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Mark Gaughan's Big-Play Breakdown: Pats first-down deep shot

New England has been running this play successfully since Tom Brady took over as quarterback in 2001. Randy Moss hit a variation of this play on the Buffalo Bills in 2007. First down. Running personnel. Two tight ends, two running backs. Maximum protection and just one receiver in the downfield pattern. Brady is a wonderful ball-handler and sells good play-action fakes.

Tom Brady throws to Brandin Cooks vs. Pittsburgh. (NFL Game Pass)

This was a 43-yard pass to Brandin Cooks at Pittsburgh last week on a first-and-10 play from the 50. Brady faked a handoff to both the running back and to Rex Burkhead (34) running a fake reverse. Cooks out-leveraged the deep safety. Sometimes the Pats run this with the receiver wide right and running a deep post all the way across the field. If the safety is protecting deep, Brady can throw the pass more shallow, across the field, and still get a completion.

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