AFC South: Further review

For our weekly “Further Review” entry, I’m searching for a hidden play that changed the tone, set the course or made a big difference in Jaguars-Colts, Rams-Texans or Dolphins-Titans.

I’m looking for just one play, and one we haven’t seen repeatedly on highlight shows. It’s always better we find a snap on which we can dissect what a lot of guys did or didn’t do rather than focus on just one who dropped a pass, committed a penalty or botched an interception.

The more context you can give me about what happened and when, the better.

This isn’t the spot we’re looking for trends or multiple snaps that serve as an example of something, and we’re not interested in reviewing anything we saw multiple times on the highlight shows. Obvious candidates need not apply.

Hit us here in the comments or send a note to the mailbag, and if you offer the suggestion I use, I’ll mention you in the entry on Tuesday.

Thanks in advance for your quality feedback.
The suggestion, from Dave in Baltimore, MD: About 9:30 left in the Colts/Broncos game, Colts on their own 20 facing 3rd and 10. Manning hits Austin Collie on a curl for a 23-yard completion, moving the chains, keeping the drive alive, and eventually putting seven points on the board to salt the game away. [Nilay Baxi in Ocean, NJ and unionjackwh joined Dave’s suggestion.]


AP Photo/Michael ConroyAustin Collie's 23-yard reception in the fourth quarter against Denver was a key play in the Colts win.
The situation: Denver’s just cut Indianapolis’ lead to 21-16 and with 8:57 left in the fourth quarter the Colts face a third-and-10 from their own 20-yard line. Peyton Manning’s been cold -- completing just one of his first 11 second-half throws with two picks.

Manning lines up in the shotgun, flanked by Dallas Clark on his left and Joseph Addai on his right. Pierre Garcon is lined up right, Austin Collie is in the slot left and Reggie Wayne is wide left.

The Broncos are in nickel, with Champ Bailey on Wayne, Andre Goodman on Garcon and Alphonso Smith on Collie.

What I saw unfold after the snap: Manning takes the shotgun snap, drops back two steps and bounces three times, with plenty of time to assess and release.

Lined up as left end, Elvis Dumervil hesitates and waits to see if he needs to cover anyone out of the backfield, drawing no real attention. Once right tackle Ryan Diem sees Dumervil is staying, he shifts inside to help Kyle DeVan and they cancel out right defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday.

D.J. Williams blitzes from right linebacker and is handled by center Jeff Saturday.

Lined up as left linebacker, Wesley Woodyard crosses the path Williams took and tries to get to Manning by squeezing between Saturday and left guard Ryan Lilja. Addai picks him up and Clark is nearby in case he’s needed, which he isn’t because the ball is out by the time Ayers recovers from Addai’s initial stop.

Right end Robert Ayers comes out of his stance, waits for Clark or Addai to emerge from the backfield. When neither comes he waits and then tries to chase the play. Left tackle Charlie Johnson realizes he doesn’t need to get Ayers, so he looks to help Lilja who’s already doing just fine against right defensive tackle Darrell Reid.

Collie is looking inside as the snaps comes, gestures inside with his shoulders and hands, then beats Smith off the line to the outside. As he gets downfield, he leans inside selling a curl and buying himself the space he wants before breaking off his route at about the 34 and turning back outside to face Manning’s pass while standing on the “3” of the “30” on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf. Smith slips off him and is face down as Collie cuts outside where Wayne is blocking Bailey. Safety Brian Dawkins arrives to make the tackle after a 23-yard gain.

Result: The Colts eat 7:19 on the drive, ending it with Clark’s third touchdown catch that puts them ahead 28-16 with only 2:25 remaining for Denver.

Ultimate outcome: Denver moves just eight yards in four plays, giving the ball back with 1:51 remaining in the game. Manning kneels three times to run out the clock and seal up the Colts’ 13th win.

Further review: Completion to Collie

December, 1, 2009
12/01/09
5:40
PM ET

AP Photo/David J. PhillipColts receiver Austin Collie's 31-yard reception in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Texans set up the game-winning touchdown.
The suggestion, from Matt Wagner via Facebook and Brian Hood of Indianapolis via mailbag: The sequence that had the Texans defense celebrating a big hit, then suffering the consequences as Peyton Manning got the next snap off quickly and threw for a big gain. We seek to expand on what Lance Zierlein addressed this in this blog entry.

The situation: Second-and-six from the Indianapolis 15-yard line with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter and the Texans leading 20-14.

The Texans just stopped Joseph Addai for a four-yard gain on a short pass over the middle, as Dunta Robinson buried the running back just as he secured the ball after a bobble. So exciting was Robinson’s hit that the Texans were compelled to celebrate. When they did, Manning got the Colts offense at the line and ready and took full advantage.

Manning is in shotgun, with Addai to his right, Dallas Clark on the line beside left tackle Charlie Johnson, Reggie Wayne wide left, Austin Collie in the slot to the right and Pierre Garcon wide right.

The Texans have their nickel personnel on the field, which means two linebackers -- DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing -- along with a fifth defensive back, Jacques Reeves.

What I saw unfold after the snap: The Texans were late to get in position because of the celebration from the previous play, which featured Robinson, Ryans and Amobi Okoye most prominently.

But even players who weren’t overexcited were outsmarted by the quick snap.

When Jeff Saturday sent the shotgun snap to Manning, I count nine of the Texans 11 defenders unprepared:

  • Safeties Jon Busing and Bernard Pollard (with a hand in the air, apparently requesting information), cornerback Glover Quin and Cushing (with both hands on his helmet) are all facing the sideline.
  • Ryans is not square to the line of scrimmage, his body sideways but his head turned to face Manning.
  • Robinson is completely out of position, still on the inside edge of the numbers which Wayne is halfway between them and the sideline. Robinson is lucky he doesn’t trip himself up as he crosses his feet as he panics to try to get back in place to cover Wayne.
  • Mario Williams is still walking to his spot at left end.
  • Right tackle Okoye is crouching but doesn’t have a hand on the ground.
  • Right end Tim Jamison is still a step off the line of scrimmage.

Left tackle Shaun Cody is in position. Left corner Reeves may be a bit confused but is spaced out in a spot where he can play Garcon effectively. (Cue the applause.)

Collie runs down the hash marks, gets behind Ryans, who’s left to spin awkwardly and collects the Manning’s pass between four defenders: Busing is still beyond him deep, Ryans is trying to recover from inside, Pollard is closing from Collie's left and Cushing is chasing from behind.

Collie makes a lateral move to his left, brushing past Pollard’s arm, watching Robinson flail and miss and going down only when Busing arrives.

Result: A 31-yard gain that sets the Colts up with first-and-10 at their own 46-yard line.

Ultimate outcome: Six plays later, the Colts are in the end zone, and take a 21-20 lead they won’t relinquish.

Bonus commentary from Gary Kubiak: “I told them that it was an example of their team and our team at that point. We make a big play. We have a big hit and we should be excited. Everybody should be excited. That’s a great play, but you have to refocus. That’s your job, to make those plays. So you’ve got to go back and come make it again. Then you’re looking at a team, an 11-0 football team, one of their players gets the heck knocked out of them and nobody lost focus. They went right to the line of scrimmage and made a 30-something yard play that got their team going. That’s what this game is about -- staying focused regardless of the high or low or what happened. Keep playing the game. We not only lost our focus for that next play, it happened for a couple plays that drive. We had a couple of issues in that drive.”
For our weekly “Further Review” entry, I’m searching for a hidden play that changed the tone, set the course or made a big difference in Colts-Texans, Titans-Cardinals or Jaguars-49ers.

It’s not going to be Vince Young’s touchdown throw to Kenny Britt. We’ve seen that over and over already.

I’m looking for just one play, and one we haven’t seen repeatedly.

The more context you can give me about what happened and when, the better. This isn’t the spot we’re looking for trends or multiple snaps that serve as an example of something, and we’re not interested in reviewing anything we saw multiple times on the highlight shows. Obvious candidates need not apply.

Hit us here in the comments or send a note to the mailbag, and if you offer the suggestion I use, I’ll mention you in the entry on Tuesday.

Thanks in advance for your quality feedback.

Further review: VY's first-down run

November, 17, 2009
11/17/09
6:52
PM ET
The suggestion from Hank Koebler via Facebook: “I don't know if this qualifies for further review, but VY's scramble on 3rd-and-long in the red zone, right before CJ's 2nd TD of the day. I think that makes the difference between usual Fisher-ball (settling for field goals every time you get in the red zone) compared to something explosive that puts you in position to score.”

The situation: Third-and-10 from the Buffalo 13-yard line with 12:20 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied, 17-17.

The Titans line up with Nate Washington and Bo Scaife to the left, Kenny Britt and Lavelle Hawkins to the right and Chris Johnson to the left of Vince Young, who’s in shotgun.

Buffalo matches up with its nickel package with Ellis Lankster, Reggie Corner, George Wilson, Drayton Florence and Bryan Scott on the field.

They rush with just their four down linemen.

What I saw unfold after the snap: Johnson heads left and cuts toward the end zone with Scott picking him up.

Jake Scott and Kevin Mawae double team Marcus Stroud and hold him up.

Eugene Amano single blocks John McCargo, who uses a spin move and winds up tugging Amano’s facemask.

Michael Roos pushes Aaron Schobel wide and David Stewart does the same with Chris Kelsay. But the two defensive ends begin to squeeze the back end of the pocket, and Young senses it early and sees room.

Young peers downfield as he scoots up in the pocket, but passes on throwing to Britt, who’s crossed from the right to the middle and is open but only two yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Paul Posluszny charges up the middle, but quickly loses any advantage in tracking Young as the quarterback slides to his right, gets to full speed and turns the corner to go up the right sideline for the pylon. He starts to lunge and reach for the pylon with the ball at about the 3-yard line with the defender on his left and diving for his legs. Field judge Keith Washington immediately signals that Young didn’t make it into the end zone marking him just short.

Young gets up and signals touchdown. Jeff Fisher challenges, but only because he was calling a timeout anyway to adjust personnel. Referee John Parry upholds the call.

Result: First-and-goal from 1. Johnson scored three plays later, bouncing off a hit behind the line of scrimmage by Scott and Posluszny and heading into the end zone standing from there and Tennessee moves to a 24-17 lead.

Ultimate outcome: The Titans pour it on from there, turning a close game into a 41-17 blowout for their third win in a row.

Further Review: Brackett's blitz

November, 10, 2009
11/10/09
4:20
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

The suggestion from Raysrock070: [Clint] Session's pick on [Matt] Schaub when [Gary] Brackett blitzed him. That killed their drive, and any momentum that they had going.

The situation: Houston ball, second-and-10 at the Indianapolis 42-yard line with 2:20 remaining in the game and the Colts ahead 20-17.
AP Photo/AJ Mast
Clint Session’s interception helped put the Colts in position to remain undefeated.

The Texans line up with Steve Slaton to the right of Matt Schaub in shotgun with four wide receivers, two to each side, all inside the numbers -- left to right, Andre Johnson, David Anderson, Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter.

Indy counters with a nickel package, with Jerraud Powers shifted to the inside near Anderson before the snap and Tim Jennings wide on the same side. Jacob Lacey is on the Jones/Walter side of the formation. Both safeties are deep.

Both linebackers are near the line of scrimmage, with Gary Brackett between Dwight Freeney and Antonio Johnson and Clint Session between Raheem Brock and Daniel Muir.

What I saw unfold after the snap: Powers tracks Anderson first, but when the receiver turns outside he leaves him for Jennings to deal with and goes to front Johnson who turns inside and has safety Melvin Bullitt behind him.

Right tackle Eric Winston helps right guard Chris White on Muir, before moving on to Brock, who was held up for a second by Slaton.

Left tackle Duane Brown handles a spin move by Freeney, in part because the defensive end bumps into his left tackle, Johnson, who’s ridden to his right by the double team of left guard Kasey Studdard and center Chris Myers.

Session drops to cover the middle.

Brackett loops around Johnson and Myers is slow to leave Johnson and get to the linebacker, who has a straight path to Schaub. The quarterback drops about two steps and bounces once waiting for things to develop before the blitzer is on him. Schaub appears to have room to buy a bit of time by sliding left, but does not and Brackett hits him in the upper right arm as he releases the ball -- probably for Johnson who was bracketed and not open, maybe for Anderson who was not very deep.

The result is a fluttering pass that Session has no trouble collecting for an interception.

Result: The pick gives the ball to the Colts who go three-and-out but burn 27 seconds and two Houston timeouts.

Ultimate outcome: The Texans are under major time pressure for the end-of-game drive that results in a missed 42-yard field goal by Kris Brown that would force overtime. Colts win 20-17 and move to a perfect 8-8 with a 3-game lead over the Texans in the AFC South.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

For our weekly “Further Review” entry, I’m searching for a hidden play that changed the tone, set the course or made a big difference in Texans-Colts, Jaguars-Chiefs or Titans-49ers.

Just one play. The more context you can give me about what happened and when, the better. This isn’t the spot we’re looking for trends or multiple snaps that serve as an example of something, and we’re not interested in reviewing anything we saw multiple times on the highlight shows. Obvious candidates need not apply.

Hit us here in the comments or send a note to the mailbag, and if you offer the suggestion I use, I’ll mention you in the entry on Tuesday.

Thanks in advance for your quality feedback.

Further review: Mathis' sack of Smith

November, 3, 2009
11/03/09
9:26
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

The suggestion from mdcady80: Although Addai's throw to Wayne was indeed a game changer, the sack on Smith afterwards was much bigger. Alex Smith was leading a counter charge midway through the 4th quarter, leading the 49ers past midfield. On 3rd down, Smith goes back for a pass, and gets sacked by Dwight Freeney, taking them out of field goal range and giving Manning 5 minutes to wind the game down. If the 49ers pick up the first down, momentum builds and a field goal or touchdown is almost certain. The colts didn't get as much pressure as they would have liked, but that sack was very timely and changed the course of the game.”

The sack was actually by Robert Mathis and it wasn’t San Francisco’s last possession, but it was a giant play nonetheless.

The situation: San Francisco ball, third-and-2 from the Indianapolis 35-yard line with 11:49 to go in the game and the Colts ahead 18-14.

The 49ers line up three wide with Isaac Bruce wide left, Josh Morgan in the slot left and Michael Crabtree wide right. Vernon Davis is a couple yards off the left tackle, standing up. Frank Gore is to the right of Alex Smith, who’s in the shotgun.

The Colts have nickel personnel on the field.

What I saw unfold after the snap:

Linebackers Gary Brackett and Clint Session, who had crept close to the line of scrimmage before the snap, both peel out to help in coverage, Brackett with Jerraud Powers on Davis, Session to the middle.

Defensive tackle Raheem Brock also drops back into coverage, leaving a three-man rush with right end Freeney, tackle Eric Foster and left end Mathis.

Foster is single blocked by center Eric Heittmann and doesn’t gain any ground.

Freeney draws a double team from left tackle Barry Sims and left guard David Baas, who give ground but do well to stave him off.

Mathis puts a spectacular spin move on right tackle Adam Snyder, acting as if he’s going to rush inside and going from Snyder’s right shoulder to beating him outside his left shoulder in the blink of an eye. Gore runs through the line where Mathis started, offers no blocking help, turns to the right flat and doesn't get there quickly enough to be of service.

Smith drops three steps from where he takes the shotgun snap, and by the time he sets, Mathis is just two yards and one step to the side away. He gets a hand on Smith’s shoulder, another on his waist and drags him down for an eight-yard loss.

Result: The sack takes the 49ers out of field goal range in their only foray into Colts’ territory in the second half.

Ultimate outcome: Indy’s offense runs 17 of the game’s remaining 24 plays as the Colts hold on to remain perfect at 7-0.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

Jaguars-Titans and Colts-49ers are on my DVR. I’ll have a copy of Texans-Bills Tuesday afternoon.

For our weekly “Further review” entry, I’m searching for a hidden play that changed the tone, set the course or made a big difference in one of those games.

Just one play. The more context you can give me about what happened and when, the better. This isn’t the spot to look for trends or multiple snaps that serve as an example of something. And we’re not interested in reviewing anything we saw multiple times on the highlight shows. Obvious candidates need not apply.

Hit us here in the comments or send a note to the mailbag, and if you offer the suggestion I use, I’ll mention you in the entry as I break down how it unfolded.

Thanks in advance for your quality feedback.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

We’ve got just two games to choose from as we look for a play to put under the Tuesday spotlight in “Further Review,” and I am not thinking the Colts blowout win in St. Louis had the sort of subtle tone-altering play that we like to examine.

So it’s up to you, Texans fans.

I’m searching for a hidden play that changed the tone, set the course or made a big difference in Sunday in San Francisco-Houston.

Just one play. The more context you can give me about what happened and when, the better. This isn’t the spot we’re looking for trends or multiple snaps that serve as an example of something, and we’re not interested in reviewing anything we saw multiple times on the highlight shows. Obvious candidates need not apply.

Hit us here in the comments or send a note to the mailbag and Tuesday I’ll do a “Further Review” entry breaking it down as best as I can.

Thanks in advance for your quality feedback.

What requires 'Further Review?'

October, 5, 2009
10/05/09
12:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


The Sunday efforts of the Colts and the Jaguars-Titans game should be stashed away on my DVR in HD. I’ll soon have a copy of the Oakland-Houston game.

What I don’t have is as clear a sense of what play from those games I should concentrate on when it’s time to look back.

So here’s the weekly request: Point me, in detail please, to the one play of the game that did get big attention but had unseen consequences -- setting the table, setting the tone, setting the course. Yes, really, just one play. And, yes, really, not one you’ve read about.

After sifting through your help -- here in comments or in my mailbag -- I’ll do what I am able on Tuesday to look in great detail at why something worked or why it didn’t and how key players performed in that situation in a couple “Further Review” entries.

I appreciate the help in advance.

Further review: Walter's offensive PI

September, 29, 2009
9/29/09
2:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


The situation: The Jaguars are up 31-24 with 2:54 left in the game, but the Texans have a first-and-goal at the Jacksonville 1-yard line.

Matt Schaub heads under center with two tight ends, Owen Daniels tight left and Joel Dreessen tight right, two wide receivers and a single back, Chris Brown. Andre Johnson starts left, not very wide and Kevin Walter is right, maybe 5 yards off of Dreessen.

The Jaguars have three down linemen and a linebacker on either side at the line of scrimmage and five defensive backs.

Here’s what I saw unfold after the snap: Schaub backs out and offers a play-action fake to Brown, running off right tackle.

Without the ball, Brown turns right at the 1, slants toward the goal line and is open for a moment as linebacker Clint Ingram leaves him to chase the quarterback and a defensive back starts to close the gap on Brown heading across the front right of the end zone.

Cornerback Rashean Mathis blitzes from the right, but left tackle Duane Brown fends him off without much of a problem.

Schaub rolls rights and has plenty of time to assess what he sees.

Johnson turns left, staying in the backfield and looking to block, but isn’t immediately needed.

Daniels runs into the end zone and curls right to the backline. As some players and an official get tangled up and he slips behind linebacker Justin Durant, brushing him and then raising his arms to signal he’s open. Another linebacker, Daryl Smith, appears to freeze to stay alive in case Daniels is the target.

Dreessen takes four or five steps left, blocking down on Derrick Harvey and pushing him aside and down, then turns and heads back to the front middle of the end zone.

Walter slants in from the right and bangs into Durant right in the middle of the X in the “Texans” written across the end zone, interrupting his course to the area where Dreessen settles.

Schaub throws back across a bit to Dreessen for what appears to be a game-tying, 1-yard touchdown with Durant arriving on his back a beat late.

But there is a flag, and Walter is called for offensive pass interference.

I don’t see the receiver turn his head to look for the ball and believe even if it was unintentional, he did interfere with Durant.

Result: Ten-yard penalty, first-and-11 from the Jacksonville 11. Schaub hits David Anderson for a 9-yard gain, but Brown is stripped at the goal line by Smith, who recovers the ball in the end zone.

Ultimate outcome: The big defensive play by Smith preserves the Jaguars' lead and ensures their first win. Both teams leave Reliant Stadium 1-2.

Your input for 'Further review,' please

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
11:56
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


The Sunday efforts of the Colts and the Titans are stashed away on my DVR in HD. I’ll soon have a copy of the Jaguars' win in Houston as well.

What I don’t have is as clear a sense as I can of what play from those games I should concentrate on when it’s time to look back.

So here’s the weekly request: Point me, in detail please, to the one play of the game that did get big attention but had unseen consequences – setting the table, setting the tone, setting the course.

After sifting through your help – here in comments or in my mailbag – I’ll do what I am able on Tuesday to look in great detail at why something worked or why it didn’t and how key players performed in that situation in a couple “Further review” entries.

I appreciate the help in advance.

Futher review: MJD's 2-point try

September, 15, 2009
9/15/09
3:28
PM ET
The situation: The Jaguars have just scored on a 7-yard run by Maurice Jones-Drew to close to 14-12 and are going for 2 with 11:12 remaining in the game.

The Jaguars line up with an unconventional offensive line set: Tight end Marcedes Lewis is acting as the left tackle and left guard Vince Manuwai pulls to head lead Jones-Drew up the middle. Brad Meester is the center with three linemen to his right -- guard Maurice Williams, tackle Eben Britton and tackle Eugene Monroe.

To top it off, Jones-Drew is lined up like a shotgun quarterback, with receiver Nate Hughes wide left, receiver Torry Holt in the slot on the right and quarterback David Garrard wide right.

Here’s what I saw unfold after the snap:
  • Hughes comes from the left side towards Jones-Drew, who fakes a handoff to him, but no one on the Colts appears to bite on the idea that Hughes is getting the ball and heading right.
  • Jones-Drew pulls the ball back, puts his head down and heads up the middle.
  • The Colts get good penetration from the snap. Left end Robert Mathis turns Monroe outside and slides inside him to bottle up any possibilities to the right.
  • Right end Dwight Freeney slips inside Lewis and gets low on Jones-Drew in a big pile.
  • Cornerback Jerraud Powers, who tracked Hughes from the left plugs in behind Lewis to prevent any sort of possible spin out by Jones-Drew, who’s stuffed well short of the goal line.
Result: Attempt fails.

Ultimate outcome: That was the Jaguars last best chance to pull even their last two possessions start at their own 1-yard line and their own 33, and they never even cross midfield as the Colts hold on for the win.

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