JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Clay Harbor wasn't the intended target, nor was he even touched on the play, but he played a critical role in the Jaguars’ successful fourth-down touchdown against Arizona last Sunday.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Harbor was one of three tight ends the Jaguars used on the fourth-and-1 play from their own 38-yard line early in the first quarter. His pre-snap motion -- in which he went right, left, and back right again -- confused the linebackers and safeties and was the reason Noble was able to get wide open.
"The most important thing was the motion," quarterback Chad Henne said. "Yo-yoing the motion and getting him to sprint out right kind of threw the defense off guard. They thought we were going to go right and we went left with it."
A look at the film shows exactly what happened:
The Jaguars went with three tight ends, fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou, running back Maurice Jones-Drew and no receivers. Danny Noble, whom the team signed to the practice squad Oct. 9, and Marcedes Lewis lined up tight on the left and right side of the formation, respectively. Harbor lined up one step behind the line of scrimmage off Noble’s left hip.
When Harbor went in motion to his right, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu slid across the formation with him. Harbor then went back to his left for two steps before turning around and going back right. You can see the reversal caused confusion between linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington, with Washington pointing and waving his left hand.
At the snap, Noble releases and brushes by linebacker John Abraham and heads up the hashmarks before curling toward the numbers. Henne play-fakes the ball to Jones-Drew, who goes low to block Abraham while Ta’ufo’ou heads into the flat.
Henne looks at Ta’ufo’ou, which causes Mathieu and Washington to make a beeline for the flat. Peterson, who was simply backpedaling after the snap, never sees Noble until he catches the ball. At that point it becomes a footrace.
Peterson eventually catches Noble at the 12-yard line but he grabs high and slides off Noble’s hip at the 5-yard line.
Coach Gus Bradley said Henne deserves credit for not taking the quick throw to Ta’ufo’ou, who was open and would have made the first down and instead going to Noble. That’s a decision he may not have made earlier this season.
"I think earlier in the season Chad may have thrown it to Will in the flat and we would have all been sitting here saying, ‘Oh, if he would have just throw it to Noble we had a chance for an explosive play,’ and he did it," Bradley said. "He was looking at the fullback but he hung in there and threw it to Nobes and we got a big play off of it."