The New England Patriots’ game against the Buffalo Bills was a close one, and it came down to the wire: up 14-10 in the late fourth quarter, New England’s defense needed to deliver a stop to outlast its opponent and earn a big division win on the road.
The unit delivered, thanks to cornerback Myles Bryant showing some great awareness.
Facing a 4th-and-14 after a short run, a penalty and two incomplete passes, the Bills were in dire need of a play just inside the two-minute warning. The Patriots countered by playing man-to-man coverage and sending a blitz against quarterback Josh Allen — leaving the secondary in one-on-ones across the board.
One of those saw Bryant go up against veteran slot receiver Cole Beasley. But while Beasley was not the intended target on the play, the man covering him still came through to register a pivotal pass breakup to effectively ice the game in his team’s favor:
Following the game, Bryant gave some insight into how the play unfolded.
“We sent some pressure and I knew he had to get the ball out quickly. I was actually on Beasley, and then I saw the ball end up going to [Gabriel] Davis. Then I was just able to get my hand in there,” Bryant said. “I think I should have picked it, it would have put the game away a lot quicker. But I was glad I was able to make the play and we were able to get a win.”
A former rookie free agent now in his second season with the Patriots, Bryant took over the starting slot role after fellow cornerback Jonathan Jones suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad, and has seen regular action over the last seven games — all wins, coincidentally.
The latest of those saw some key contributions from Bryant. While he drew a tough flag on a 3rd-and-7, he also registered five tackles and had one of the biggest defensive plays of the day.
The key on that one?
“Understanding where the ball’s going to go in that situation,” Bryant said.
The Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick are preaching situational football regularly, and on Monday the second-year defender executed it to perfection. The reward was a big play and, eventually, a win.