Giants vs Patriots: Breaking Down New England's Run Game for Super Bowl XLVI

Alen DumonjicContributor IIJanuary 24, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  BenJarvus Green-Ellis #42 of the New England Patriots runs the ball against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

In this day and age, the quarterback reigns supreme, which has consequently led many to label the NFL a "passing" league. Analysts may be correct, but the running game is still important as it grinds away clock and moves the chains, as evidenced by the performance of New England Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. 

The "Law Firm," as he's often called, patiently found running lanes with his superior vision (and blockers) to a tune of 4.5 yards per carry and consistently acquire first downs in an effort to put the Patriots offense in scoring position.

His carries came in many different forms of run concepts, some of which included inside trap, wham, outside zone and counter, but the main focus today will be the inside trap, which the Patriots ran a significant amount of on Sunday.

This concept can be seen throughout the massive playbooks of NFL offenses, but the execution of it does not come in similar fashion. 


Inside Trap

The inside trap concept is one that had the biggest impact early in the second quarter with its execution for a touchdown run by the aforementioned Green-Ellis.

On this play, the Patriots came out in their 12-spread personnel grouping, which features a single running back in the backfield—in this case is offset to Brady's right—and two tight ends, one of which is in line with the other spread out (Hernandez out of the picture to the far left).

To counter this, the Baltimore Ravens' personnel grouping featured five defensive backs—creating a "Nickel" package—along with two defensive lineman and four linebackers. 

New England turned to their inside trap concept that they utilized on more than one occasion in the game. What this concept does is leave an downhill attacking defender unblocked, who ultimately walks (or runs in this case) into a trap block by a pulling backside guard. 

Starting from the right of the image, slot receiver Deion Branch (84) executes a block on the weak-side safety to keep him from flowing across the formation in the direction of the run.

Meanwhile, the weak-side offensive tackle (the left tackle) performs a kick-out block on linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) that keeps him away from the run, much like the Branch block.

The center and strong-side guard (right guard) are to block "down" away from the run to seal the defenders and help create a potential "alley"—running lane—for the ball-carrier.

New England's following three blocks are the ones that ultimately are the most important. They consist of the weak-side (left) guard pulling across the formation, whose block is help set up by the patient and quick footed Green-Ellis.

The next important block of this play belongs to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who helps create an alley for the "Law Firm" by executing a kick-out block on the defensive end.

Last of all is the block by receiver Wes Welker, who gets in the face of the strong-side safety and takes him out of the play with an excellent block of his own.

These three blocks would pave the way for Green-Ellis to score a touchdown.

While statistically, Green-Ellis did not have a great rushing outing—mainly because of his low number of carries—he will likely once again play a big role in the running game in the Super Bowl with concepts like inside trap a key to slowing down an aggressive Giants' front seven with an unexpected punch.