Breaking Down Danny Woodhead's Big Day for New England Patriots

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Breaking Down Danny Woodhead's Big Day for New England Patriots
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Despite his size, New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead continues to deliver big plays in big moments for his team. 

In fact, he made two of the biggest plays on the day, scoring two touchdowns in what was the first multi-TD performance of his career.

He stormed onto the scene against the Buffalo Bills in 2010, and showed up big against the division rivals once again. 

"[He's] phenomenal, man," said Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, the primary back in New England's stable. "That's the leader in our room and Woody does it all. He runs well, he catches well. He's a threat for the defenses. They've got to find the little short guy out there somewhere, but most of the time he's making plays and it's too late."

Woodhead didn't play much on Sunday, logging just 16 offensive snaps (21.9 percent of the team total, per ProFootballFocus.com), but managed more than a few key plays over the course of the game. 

He took his lone carry of the day for a touchdown.

It was a classic example of the Patriots hurrying to the line and getting the play off before the defense was set (as we can see the Bills defense still rushing to their spots), but it was well-blocked and Woodhead navigated his way through the defense perfectly to trot 15 yards untouched for the score.

"It was a great play, great blocking and I just tried to do the rest," Woodhead said after the game.

He added four receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown, but two of the catches were eerily similar.

The first came on 3rd-and-7, with the Patriots driving down the field in the second quarter. 

The Bills lined up in a very interesting alignment, with defensive tackle Kyle Williams standing up behind defensive tackle Alex Carrington.

Linebacker Kyle Moore brought the rush from the edge, but Woodhead lets him by and breaks into his pattern. He ran underneath the coverage from linebacker Nick Barnett, heading for the open space left vacant by the blitz.

Woodhead's acceleration makes him a great weapon in open space. Once he made the catch, there was more than enough room for him to create yards and pick up the first down.

But he wasn't done. 

Woodhead's second touchdown of the day looked nearly the same as that route, and produced the same results: Woodhead in open space, Woodhead in the end zone.

Once again, Woodhead juked past Barnett underneath, getting in front of quarterback Tom Brady and allowing him an easy checkdown in the face of pressure.

Once again, Woodhead broke up-field and dove for the goal line. He needed every inch of his 5'8" frame to get the tip of the ball over the plane.

Plays like this are why Brady continues to look to Woodhead in big situations, but he has made plays in the passing game for years, including a touchdown catch in Super Bowl XLVI just 0:15 before the conclusion of the first half.

Woodhead is not a prototypical running back, but the Patriots don't use him that way. In fact, Woodhead has run a pass route on 150 of his 228 offensive snaps, the highest total among running backs on the team according to ProFootallFocus.com, and he rates out as the sixth-best pass-catching running back in the league by their metric.

It's not likely that Woodhead will get any bigger, but the way he plays in the passing game, his role in the offense just might.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained first-hand.

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