Welcome to another installment of Chalk Dust X’s and O’s. I am going to keep it fairly simple this week after several insane endings and just focus on what every fan watching an NFL game on Sunday roots for: the Touchdown. Poor kickers, nobody really cares about field goals unless it is to win or tie the game at the very end. Anyway, I thought it would be prudent to examine several games this week as well as analyzing the touchdowns that happened and possibly explain why they resulted the way they did.
Game 1: Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Scenario: 1st & 10 with 8:47 left in the 2nd Quarter and the ball at the Kansas City 39. Oakland lines up in Shotgun with the TE offset and RB to the right. KC lines up in a 2-3-6 Nickel formation.
Kansas runs a Cover 1 Blitz with the CBs playing Press Coverage. The middle linebacker fails to drop back enough as he tries to occupy the space vacated by the blitzing defenders and the CB defending Moore gets beaten off the snap immediately. The safety walking up goes man-on-man with the offset TE whom runs a quick button hook in the center of the field. The lone deep safety overcompensates as he drops back, shading the right side of the field, and is too far back to help make the tackle as Denarius Moore races by untouched.
Game 2: Carolina Panthers @ Minnesota Vikings
The Scenario: 4th Down & Goal at the Vikings 1 Yard Line with 2:28 left in the 1st Quarter. Carolina lines up in a Shotgun with Tight 4 WRs and the RB to the left of Cam Newton. Minnesota lines up in a 4-2-5 Nickel formation. Steve Smith (#89) goes in motion to show a Trips look on the right.
Minnesota tries to play with a Cover 1 Man look with a LB coming in on a delayed blitz. Carolina runs a variant of an Air Raid staple with a Mesh Route, having #11 and #89 cross paths one on top and one underneath to try and get the defenders to set a pick on each other by accident. That’s exactly what happens to Minnesota’s #21, who has to shift a half a second to avoid being hit but it is just long enough that it allows Steve Smith to clear and be wide open for an easy goal line touchdown pass from Cam Newton. An example of great execution on how the play should be drawn up on the blackboard.
Game 3: Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos
The Scenario: 1st Down & 5 at the Denver 5 yard line with 8:13 left in the 3rd Quarter. Denver is up 21-12. Jacksonville lines up in a basic 2 TE Ace formation with the QB under center. Denver has lined up with a 4-3 Under formation with 3 defensive linemen shifted towards the left of the offensive line.
The call is an Inside Zone with a wide open lane for Maurice Jones-Drew to cut back through, leading to a pretty easy touchdown as a result. The LT and LG double team before the LG does a fantastic job breaking off to help seal #59 coming in behind #92. Because the entire offensive line pushes the defenses towards the left side (or right side based on the below image), this allows Jones-Drew to cut back and only needing to beat #33 whom is suddenly forced to go one on one and fill the vacated canyon of a hole. A pretty easy touchdown occurs as a result.
Game 4: New Orleans Saints @ New England Patriots
The Scenario: It just would not be right to do this article without featuring this gut wrenching (for Saints fans and Rob Ryan anyway) touchdown that had Tom Brady continuing to be the new Joe Montana & John Elway rolled into one. Anyway it’s the 4th Quarter and 2nd & 11 at the Saints 17 yard line with just 10 seconds left. New England lines up in a 3 WR look with the TE offset from the line of scrimmage and the RB to Brady’s left. New Orleans counters with 4 DL and 7 DB playing Zone Coverage.
It is about as basic a play call as it gets. Everybody goes vertical which the RB checks for a blitz, then releases in the flat. The touchdown was a result of not only a great throw and catch from Tom Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins but also a Saints miscue in the secondary. Thompkins gets the outside and is able to get separation from the CB who is man on man with him. The safety, circled in blue, gets back to the endzone but has his eyes locked on Julian Edelman coming up the seam. By the time he realizes whom Brady is targeting, it is far too late for him to make a play on the ball and Thompkins easily outjumps the CB defending him while showing awareness to get both feet down for the winning touchdown.
I hope you enjoyed the breakdown of what it takes to score a touchdown in the NFL. From the execution on the offensive side to small miscues and breakdowns on the defensive side, usually they have to coincide just right for the big score to happen.
Credit to NFL.com’s Game Rewind for Video and http://www.jacksonville.com for the feature image