Here’s a look at the well-designed and well-executed plays in Week 13.

Co-Passing Designs of the Week: Non-QBs tossin’ TDs!

One of the week’s most thrilling contests was the New York Giants’ 30-27 upset victory over the Chicago Bears in overtime. And since both teams had a non-quarterback throw a touchdown pass, we’re making them our “Co-Passing Designs of the Week.”

In the first play below, Odell Beckham Jr. gets the Giants into the end zone by finding Russell Shepard wide open with a deep throw.

The Giants initially show a toss play to the left, as Eli Manning fakes it to running back Saquon Barkley. But Manning instead gives the ball to Beckham, who’s coming across the backfield from his starting point on the left side of the formation. Beckham appears to be running an end-around, but then suddenly pulls up and uncorks a long throw to Shepard on a deep route. With no defenders in position to make a play, it’s an easy touchdown.

The Bears also had a trick up their sleeve after recovering a late onside kick down by seven points. On the Giants’ 1-yard line with just three seconds remaining, they turn to a page from the back of their playbook:

NFL/FOX

The snap goes to quarterback Chase Daniel in the shotgun, and he immediately hands the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who was lined up in the backfield and starts running to the left. Burton then flips the football to running back Tarik Cohen, who’d begun the play aligned as a wide receiver on the left, but is now reversing into the backfield. After Cohen grabs the ball and nears the right edge on a potential running play, he suddenly tosses it to receiver Anthony Miller on a crossing route in the end zone:

These plays spiced up a mostly frustrating offensive display by both teams – and whenever two non-QBs toss TD passes in the same game, it deserves a mention.

Rushing Design of the Week: Broncos’ perfect crack toss

For the second straight week, we’re featuring the Denver Broncos’ rushing attack and rookie running back Phillip Lindsay. In Sunday’s 24-10 win over Cincinnati, Lindsay carried the football 19 times for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns – the second of which went for 65 yards using a perfectly executed “crack toss” design.

Midway through the third quarter, the Broncos have a 14-3 lead and the football on their own 35-yard line. They line up with quarterback Case Keenum under center and Lindsay as the single back behind him. The key players to watch on this snap are on the left side:

NFL/CBS

Left tackle Garett Bolles (No. 72) pulls all the way outside thanks to “crackback” blocks from the two outside receivers – which are meant to push defenders inside. The inside receiver, Courtland Sutton, immediately cracks the defensive end, while Emmanuel Sanders moves upfield and veers slightly inside to block the slot defender. Meanwhile, left guard Billy Turner (No. 77) flows to the second level to take on a linebacker. Watch as these blocks come together perfectly, giving Lindsay a convoy to race upfield:

From there, it’s all Lindsay. He picks up the block downfield from Turner on Vontaze Burfict and cuts behind his left guard without losing speed. The cut also erases the angle that safety Jessie Bates (No. 30) is taking to the sideline, and Lindsay then outruns everyone to the end zone.

Pressure Design of the Week: Flowers stunts on Vikings

The New England Patriots picked up yet another December home win by knocking off the Minnesota Vikings by two touchdowns.

The Patriots’ pass rush was a major factor throughout the game, especially edge defender Trey Flowers. At times, New England would employ Flowers as the sole defensive lineman on the field and align him across from the center, while other designs would put him on the edge.

The third-and-5 play below is a hybrid of both themes, as Flower begins on the edge but finds his way to the inside for a sack. With Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in the shotgun and three receivers to the right, the Patriots show pressure with seven defenders up front. Flowers is aligned on the outside shoulder of right tackle Brian O’Neill:

NFL/FOX

The Patriots use the following stunt design – during which defensive players exchange roles to confuse blockers – to get Flowers (red line) inside.

NFL/FOX

When the ball is snapped, the two interior defenders to Flowers’ right – Kyle Van Noy and Adam Butler (black lines) – immediately rush toward the passer, forcing center Pat Elflein to help out. That opens up a crease in the middle, and Flowers takes advantage by looping around Van Noy and Butler before getting through the line unblocked:

The well-designed and well-executed play forces a three-and-out and gives the football back to the Patriots with a seven-point lead. They would score on the ensuing possession and cruise from there.

Coverage Design of the Week: Fake blitz leads to Newton INT

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ pass defense has struggled for much of this season, but the unit submitted back-to-back impressive performances in the last two weeks as the Bucs won both games.

In Week 13, that performance included four interceptions of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton – one of which saw defensive back Javien Elliott fool the veteran QB.

Late in the first half, the Panthers face a second-and-10 on the Buccaneers’ 25-yard line. The offense lines up with Newton in the shotgun and two receivers to the left. Elliot’s aligned in the slot (red box):

NFL/FOX

Before the snap, Elliott shows a blitz, which the Panthers point out. Newton likely expects Elliot to vacate the slot with his blitz, so he tries to hit outside receiver D.J. Moore on a quick slant (highlighted route):

NFL/FOX

However, Elliott doesn’t blitz and instead drops directly into the throwing lane:

The deke and interception end the scoring threat, while the Panthers would ultimately drop to 6-6 on the season to fall further back in the playoff race.

Game Plan of the Week: New England Patriots

Entering Week 13, a major focus of concern in the Patriots’ locker room was how to handle the dangerous Vikings receiver duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. However, the Patriots put together a very impressive game plan that truly limited the impact those players had on the contest.

New England did so by employing a variety of coverage looks and schemes. The defense occasionally double-teamed Thielen, while other times it would leave the top receivers in single-coverage situations while relying on quick pressure. That heat forced Cousins to check the football down early and often, with only 11 of his 43 passing attempts going to Diggs or Thielen.

In addition, the Patriots – stealing a page from what the Tennessee Titans did against their own offense a few weeks ago – sometimes used a “radar” defensive scheme, in which every player begins in a standing position and moves laterally at the snap (rather than attacking forward) by reading the offensive line. This scheme featured Flowers as the only down lineman, and it created more confusion up front. Overall, Bill Belichick and Brian Flores drew up a terrific game plan, and their players executed it to near-perfection.

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.

Menu