Here at Pats Pulpit, each week during the season, we're going to hold a poll for "play of the game." At the end of the season, we're going to pull of the top plays together and hold a bracket-style tournament for play of the year. The candidates, play breakdowns, and videos after the jump:
Wes Welker's First Touchdown
In his first official game back in uniform since tearing his ACL and MCL this past January, Wes Welker burst back onto the scene by catching a touchdown in the Patriots' first drive. The play was perfectly executed. The Patriots had trips left with Rob Gronkowski and Alge Crumpler split wide. Wes Welker was behind them, with just two Bengals' defenders guarding the side. Once the ball was snapped, Brady threw the screen to Welker, the tight ends executed their blocks, and the rest was history. Six points.
This play was a result of all of the versatility the Patriots have on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots opened in a two tight end, one back set, with the receivers being Brandon Tate and Randy Moss, and the back Fred Taylor. The Patriots used Randy Moss, who drew double coverage, as a decoy over the top. The result: Aaron Hernandez being left wide open. Brady had the time to find him thanks to a brilliant blitz pickup by Fred Taylor, and Hernandez did the rest of the work after the catch, reversing field on his way to a 45 yard gain.
Gary Guyton Pick-Six
The Patriots opened in a passing-down sub-package, with Jermaine Cunningham and Tully Banta-Cain rushing the passer as ends. The linebackers were third year players Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton. The Patriots had good coverage in the secondary, and Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer looked at rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham the whole way. Guyton stayed with Gresham stride-for-stride as he ran across the middle of the field, and stepped in front of him as Carson Palmer threw the ball to the right sideline. Guyton interception the pass, beat quarterback Carson Palmer down the sideline, and dove in celebration as he reached the endzone.
Brandon Tate Kick Return Touchdown
With the Patriots up 24-3 heading into halftime, they were on the brink of blowing the game wide open. When Brandon Tate received his second half kickoff, he did exactly that. The ball bounced to Tate to the three, he picked up the ball, jumped, made a quick juke and was off. Although the touchdown was in large part due to a lapse in the Bengals kick coverage, Tate took advantage and showed off his tremendous speed and playmaking ability. I'll let the video do the talking:
Greg's Pick: It's a really tough choice for week one, I wouldn't expect this many big plays on a regular basis. If I had to go with one, I'd probably go with the 45 yard completion to Hernandez. I felt that play showcased the versatility the Patriots have on the offensive side of the ball with the tight ends, receivers, etc. Plus that blitz pickup by Fred Taylor was beautiful. I was also very tempted to go with Welker's first touchdown, as well as the Guyton pick-six.