How a Rookie and a #2TE Sealed the Cowboys Fate

he play that ended the game against Seattle came when the score was still close. Dallas only trailed by a manageable 1-score in the 3rd quarter down 7-13. However, on a 2nd and 7 the Seahawks, who had been hiding their QB's inexperience with run plays and dink-and-dunk passes, gave him 1 shot to throw a deep ball. With that shot the rookie scored 22 yard TD to a #2TE who had never scored a TD in his 3-year career. We all remember it because that's when the lights began to shut off and the party was over, we all realized there would be no comeback after that touchdown.

But I have seen lots of misinformation in the comments section about the play. Some people say we were in a 4-3, others said we didn't have a safety in, yet other say Bruce Carter was on he field so allow me to break the play down and show you how a rookie and this #2TE beat the Cowboys.


The Seahawks come out in a power-run formation. They have Marshawn Lynch 8 yards deep ready to get a full head of steam. The birds only have 1 WR on the field so that they can place 3TEs on the line to provide extra beef for the run game. This formation screams run. Of course, we know that this is, in fact, a ruse because the Seahawks pass out of this play.

Interestingly Rob Ryan does not fall for this deception. Rob Ryan has kept his base 3-4 personnel on the field. They have 3 linemen, 4 linebackers, 2 CBs, and 2 S on the field showing a normal balanced defense. Rob Ryan has walked the two OLBs onto the line of scrimmage in his standard run defense formation. In fact, you see Brandon Carr standing 10 yards off the line of scrimmage without really much to do. The Cowboys are more than prepared for a pass option here, they aren't fooled.


In still 2 notice the 2 ILBs Lee and Connor. Russell Wilson has only taken 2 steps backwards and already Sean Lee is dropping back into coverage while Dan Connor is running to his left to meet the TEs. Notice how no one is moving towards the line of scrimmage or even looking in the back-field. This is amazing, Mashawn Lynch has only taken one step towards the LOS, how can you tell that this isn't a run? Well, it's because the defensive play call is clearly a coverage play. Rob Ryan has told his guys that there is zero chance of a run and to defend the pass.

Now remember, this Seahawk play is based on deception. The Seahawks wanted to make the Cowboys put an anti-run formation on the field - they didn't they stayed in base. The Seahawks want the Cowboys to worry about Lynch so their receivers can get behind them - they didn't Rob Ryan had them drop into coverage off the snap. The Cowboys playcall is beyond perfect, Rob Ryan has this play absolutely dead, it has no chance.

Well, then some things happen

One of the best ways to defeat a bunch set is to jam the receivers. You've got 3 TEs all next to eachother so if you jam one guy not only is it going to throw off his timing but the guy behind him might run into the first guy and just create all sorts of problems.


Anthony Spencer, I don't know what you're doing but that's not a jam. After Spencer wiffs on trying to jam McCoy he's out of the play, I don't know how fast McCoy is but I do know that our converted DE is not going to be able to make up ground against a TE covering him 20 yards downfield. At this moment Anthony Spencer is toast.


vBut that's okay because we've playing coverage, remember, so we can handle a mistake and still be fine. The TEs get 5 yards deep and break out into their routes. TE1 breaks inside on a post route, TE2 heads up the field on a seam route, and TE3 breaks outside to run a corner route.

The Cowboys have 5 guys in coverage defending the 3 TEs. Sean Lee is freaking awesome and n the middle of the field ready to picks up TE1 and stop any pass to the post. Brandon Carr is out of the frame but trust me, he's almost asleep he's so bored with how easy it is to cover TE3 running to corner. TE1 and TE3 are locked down!

But there's TE #2 sitting out there, the one who was supposed to be delayed with Spencer's non-jam and is currently running the seam. In the above still you can see Dan Connor draws the assignment and is working to get to him.


In still 4 it's clear things have gone terribly wrong. Because Dan Connor is so slow he's already a yard behind TE#2, McCoy, by the time he gets to where he should be covering McCoy. McCoy should be double-covered on this play but both the guys covering him are behind him!

Now this is when Rob Ryan starts hyperventilating, the one man you double covered has beaten both of your coverage men. Rob Ryan reaches for the gun he keeps with one solitary bullet to just end it all but then remembers, wait, that's what safeties are for! In this play call he had a center-field safety 15 yards off the line of scrimmage just in case something went tragically wrong like it did here.


Still 5 is a little blurry from the camera panning with the ball but stay with me here. In the middle of the field you see a blurry guy in a white jersey next to a blurry guy in a green jersey - that is Sean Lee being Sean Lee, completely shutting down the TE1 running the post route 20 yards down-field. You also see two guys in white jerseys between the 10 and 5 yard lines - that is Dan Connor and Anthony Spencer "covering" your TE2 running the post route. That blurry guy at the goal-line running towards the wide open TE? That's your center field safety who should have seen the play breaking down and been there to contest the catch. Instead, he's forever and a day away from the wide-open tight end. I had a hard time making out who the safety is but I believe it's Manna Silva on this play - if I'm wrong please let me know in the comments section.


This still shows you why Rob Ryan cries while eating a bucket full of KFC to try to make the pain go away. The Seahawks OC tried to fake him out trying to put a run-defense unit on the field but Rob Ryan didn't take the bait. Rob Ryan was so prescient he even called the absolute perfect counter to the play, having his guys drop back in coverage without even waiting to see if it's a run or pass play. Despite the fact he thoroughly out-smarted the Seahawks he was undone.

1) Anthony Spencer missed his jam

2) Dan Connor ran so slow even Felix was saying "I'm faster than that guy"

3) The safety had no ability to read the play or instincts to move to the ball

If any one of those 3 players successfully carried out their assignment it's 3rd and long with a rookie QB who can only complete 3-yard passes. But they didn't and that's how a rookie and a TE who's never caught a TD in his life beat 3 Dallas Cowboys players to put the game away.

Special Bonus Breakdown on the Play!


Now the last thing I want to bring up involves the pass rush. Some say Rob Ryan is a fool for not blitzing more in this game. In still 1 you see Sean Lissimore at Nose Tackle drawing single blocking on the center.


vIn still 2 you only see half of Sean Lissimore, because he's executed a fantastic swim-move and has completely beaten the center. At this moment BTB favorite Lissy has a wide-open run at the QB. So even though Spencer, Connor, and the safety are completely screwing up this play, our boy Lissy has a chance to redeem them all by getting a sack or at least forcing the rookie to make a quick throw a split second before he's drilled by the 300lber.


In the final still, still 3 you might ask youself, "wait, I thought we rushed 4. Why do I only see 3 Cowboys?" Well unfrotunately the rookie Tyrone Crawford was in at right defensive end and Tyrone Crawford engaged his man and walked the guard right into Lissimore. So where Lissimore had a free shot at the QB, Crawford blocked that shot off by running into Lissy and bringing his offensive guard with him, eliminating both of them from the play.

Plays like this are why Rob Ryan drains entire bottles of whisky at a time.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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