The 10th week of the NFL season was full of surprises, including the Tennessee Titans blowing out the New England Patriots in Nashville and the Cleveland Browns earning Gregg Williams his first victory as interim head coach.

Here’s a look at the well-designed plays that made our list:

Passing Design of the Week: Barkley to Dawkins

We’ve picked on the Buffalo Bills quite a bit this year, as their quarterback group has become a staple in the “Coverage Design of the Week” section – for all the wrong reasons. And Bills fans were surely pessimistic when Matt Barkley – signed off the street – was named the starting quarterback for Week 10 against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. However, the journeyman was solid, completing 15 of 25 passes for 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Buffalo’s surprising 41-10 rout.

Since one of those scores went to an offensive lineman, it’s definitely worth breaking down.

With slightly over eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Bills already have a 17-point lead and are looking for more. Facing a first-and-goal at the Jets’ 8-yard line, they bring in an extra offensive lineman, reserve tackle Jeremiah Sirles (No. 74), and line up in an unbalanced formation, with two tackles, a guard, and a tight end on the right side. Meanwhile, tackle Dion Dawkins (No. 73) is on the left side as an eligible receiver, with another receiver outside of him:

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Buffalo shows a running play to the right, but Barkley fakes the handoff and looks left to throw. The two wide receivers both run routes working to the right, which clears out the left flat for Dawkins. The tackle blocks on the edge and then slips into the flat undetected:

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At this point, Dawkins is wide open. Barkley simply flips him the ball and the big man gets himself a touchdown:

At 3-7, Buffalo’s on its way to another losing season, but for one afternoon, the team turned in a dominating performance – and got one of its linemen a rare trip into the end zone.

Rushing Design of the Week: Chubb makes history

Nick Chubb finished Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons with 20 carries for 176 yards and a touchdown, while his 92-yard score set a record as the longest touchdown run in Browns franchise history. There’s no question the rookie was impressive, but Cleveland’s blockers also deserve plenty of credit for making the biggest play of the day possible.

Holding an 11-point lead early in the third quarter, the Browns face a second-and-10 on their own 8-yard line. They line up with two tight ends and Chubb as the lone running back:

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The play is a zone-blocking run design to the right, and the critical blocks up front come from left guard Joel Bitonio (No. 75), right guard Kevin Zeitler (No. 70), center JC Tretter (No. 64), and right tackle Chris Hubbard (No. 74):

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Zeitler begins the play with a defensive tackle lined up on his right (outside) shoulder. But when the ball is snapped, he’s able to get outside of the defender and then seal him off toward the inside. Meanwhile, Tretter climbs to the second level immediately and handles the middle linebacker – but how is this possible considering the nose tackle is lined up across from him? The answer is that Bitonio executes a perfect reach block around that nose tackle. At the same time, Hubbard quickly gets to the outside and walls off the edge defender:

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Those blocks open up a perfect hole for Chubb, who cuts between Zeitler and Hubbard and then right behind Tretter. The rusher makes one defender miss in the open field, and then picks up a fourth blocker of note, wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who does a great job of leading Chubb downfield:

From there, Chubb races into the end zone – and the record books.

Pressure Design of the Week: Titans confuse Brady, Pats

Sunday’s most stunning result was likely the Titans knocking off the Patriots 34-10, and the game was never really in doubt. A huge part of the victory was the pressure that Tennessee’s defense was able to generate on Tom Brady – who was sacked three times and hit on six occasions – as the unit turned to an interesting defensive scheme that confused blockers and frustrated the quarterback.

The scheme is known as “Radar,” and sees most (or all) of the players up front align in a two-point stance – just their feet on the ground – before the snap. This hides the intentions of the defenders, making it tougher to determine which players will attack the pocket and who will drop into coverage.

The Titans used the Radar defense to pressure Brady on the first two plays of New England’s final first-half series, and even sacked the QB on an attempted Hail Mary. They used the look again to start the second half, forcing a sack and a quick three-and-out on the Patriots’ opening drive of the third quarter. That third down is the play we’ll highlight below.

Look at the pre-snap alignment of the Titans’ defenders. Everyone’s in a two-point stance, hiding their intentions:

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Upon the snap, two of the defenders on the line of scrimmage drop off, but the Titans blitz both a linebacker and safety Kevin Byard (No. 31), who gets a running start from the second level. Brady’s flushed to his right and can’t escape:

Defensive coordinators have been trying for years to find a way to confuse Brady and Co. Whether or not the Radar defense is the answer remains to be seen, but you can be sure other teams will try it.

Coverage Design of the Week: Stroman cheats (successfully) with help

After holding a slim 6-3 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, the Washington Redskins scored 10 unanswered points to pull away and secure a 16-3 victory in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers. A huge play in that final frame was an interception of Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick by rookie cornerback Greg Stroman, which set up a Washington field goal.

Early in the fourth, the Buccaneers trail 13-3 but have the football on their own 30-yard line. On a first-and-10, they come out with talented tight end O.J. Howard (highlighted route) as the single receiver on the right side, in a formation that’s meant to isolate him. Stroman (red box) aligns across from Howard, giving him about 9 yards of cushion:

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Fitzpatrick tries to throw a curl route to Howard, but watch how the cornerback plays it:

The Redskins have two high safeties on this play, which means Stroman knows he has help over the top. So, he plays this flat-footed – reading Howard’s break – and as soon as the tight end turns, Stroman cuts underneath the route for his first career interception.

It was a smart bit of football by the rookie corner, who took the chance because he understood the coverage behind him. And it paid off.

Game Ball: Offensive Line, Cleveland Browns

As highlighted in the breakdown of Chubbs’ big run, Cleveland’s offensive line was very impressive against Atlanta. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was kept clean all afternoon, as he wasn’t sacked – or even hit – throughout the game.

In addition, the Browns ran the football 29 times for 211 yards – an average of 7.3 yards per carry – and posted a strong 4.3 average even without the 92-yarder. So, let’s give some more recognition to Bitonio, Tretter, Zeitler, Hubbard, and left tackle Greg Robinson for a great performance.

Mark Schofield writes NFL feature content for theScore. After nearly a decade of practicing law in the Washington, D.C., area Mark changed careers and started writing about football. Drawing upon more than a decade of playing quarterback, including at the collegiate level, Mark focuses his work on quarterback evaluation and offensive scheme analysis. He lives in Maryland with his wife and two children. Find him on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

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