By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — On television, in the frenzy of a last-minute drive in a tied football game, a completion to a wide-open receiver can sometimes just look like a piece of cake reception. Generally, though, there’s a bit more that goes into it.
Take, for instance, Cam Newton’s 20-yard completion to Jakobi Meyers in the waning seconds of Monday night’s meeting between the Patriots and Jets. With Gregg Williams’ defense playing zone coverage, there wasn’t a soul near Meyers when he made the catch and fell to the ground before the Patriots frantically called timeout with 3 seconds remaining. Nick Folk and the field goal unit then took the field for the game-winning kick.
Every NFL quarterback can and should make that throw, no matter the circumstance. That much goes without saying.
But on Tuesday, when asked if that play was a case of Meyers reading the defense and making an adjustment, Belichick shifted the credit to Newton.
“Cam did a nice job of looking off to the other side of the field, and he drew a lot of coverage over there,” Belichick told reporters on a video conference call. “So when Jakobi came inside on the in-cut, there really wasn’t any underneath coverage. It was a good, clean throw. Cam put it right on him. So it was a well-executed play.”
Indeed, a closer look shows that at the snap, Newton looked to his left. In doing so, he moved linebacker Neville Hewitt away from the middle of the field.
A slow-motion wide shot shows that not only did Cam look left, but he also offered the subtlest of pump fakes, thereby getting Hewitt to fully commit to sliding outside of the hash marks, thereby making the window to Meyers even larger. That worked to allow Newton to deliver the pass with some zip, not having to worry about lofting the ball over any linebackers.
“Cam had a lot to do in creating that space in the defense by the way he moved the underneath coverage with his his eyes before he came back to make that throw,” Belichick said. “So, nicely done by Cam.”
And with Gunner Olszewski occupying the deep-middle safety, Meyers cut inside and made himself available inside of a massive pocket of space. Newton knew he’d be there, and Meyers hauled in the catch that made the game-winning kick possible.
Newton said that Meyers being a former quarterback helps tremendously in situations like that one.
“I know him playing quarterback for so long, he has an instinct and a knack to know how to get open, to know what the quarterback is thinking,” Newton said on WEEI.
Certainly on that play, Newton and Meyers executed with precision to make a winning play at a critical moment. The detail provided by Belichick helped shine a light on how such plays can end up looking so easy.