After watching the game several times, I thought I would comment on a few of the things that will be valuable when viewed in connection with my Football 101 series by better understanding the defensive formations, ways to properly catch the ball, and the route tree.
The 5-2 or 3-4?
I will start with the first play of the game and just give some terminology to what the defense is doing. While Rob Ryan is known for his 3-4 defense, he is also known for running multiple variants of the base defense. Here we see the base 3-4 but lined up in the 5-2, Press, Cover two. ( Many times people say that the 3-4 should be called the 5-2 instead because of how many times two of the LB's line up at the Line of Scrimmage.)
What this means is the defense lines up with 5 players at the line of scrimmage, 2 linebackers in the middle of the set, and 2 safties deep, which makes them in Cover Two.
The call of the formation from Ryan is called into Lee and he sets the front 7, while Sensabaugh sets the DB's.
Demarcus Ware has a straight shot, but M. Bennett is sent in motion to line up in front of where ever Ware lines up.
First Play - Bump and Run
In the next shot, we see that Bennett has engauged Ware, and the Corners have come up to meet and "bump" the Wideouts. One thing this "bumping" does is "throw off" the timing between the QB and his receivers. All QB's have a clock in their heads and on each play they are taught to mentally count not only each step, but keep a cadence so that if it is a "5 step drop", then on the count of "X", they know they should let the ball fly and it will come down in perfect timing with where and when the receiver should turn and "look back" for the ball.
Well by bumping the receiver, it throws off this timing and we all saw the results....incomplete. Also from my last post on Zone Blocking, you will notice that this starts out as a "Stretch Play", Eli then drops back to throw a pass insted of handing the ball to the tailback.
Because Even though all the Offensive Linemen are in "Hi-Hat", the Linebackers must respect the run initially.
Second Play - Cover One
In this next shot you can again see that Ryan has us in the 5-2, but the secondary is in a "Cover One" set because Sensabaugh has come down into the box and only Church is back. Also notice that Bennett is once again in motion to come over to the side that Ware has moved to.
Third Play - Nickle
In this next shot, We are in a 5-1, Nickle with Cover One which is only one Saftey High. Not only is Sensabaugh in the box, but we send him on a "Saftey Blitz" which often will cause the QB to hurry his throw. On this play Cruz lines up in the slot or at the LOS and runs a deep In, (Also known as a Drag Route), into the area that Sensabaugh vacated, and Manning throws the ball behind Cruz and it is also too hot for him to handle, as it goes right between his hands. I can't tell for sure, but it appears that Cruz did not use proper technique on this catch because he failed to "touch thumbs."
This means when you catch the ball away from your body, you touch your thumbs and first fingers, (Forming a Spade Shape), and if you do this, the ball should not go through your hands.
Game Winner! - THE CATCH!
And finally another proper way to catch the ball, and it is critical in what most are calling the single most important play of the game....the play that allowed us to run out the clock.
On this play notice where Witten is lined up. (In the Slot at the bottom.) His job is to clear out the slant area for Ogletree by running straight at the DB who is 12 yards in front of him. The CB who is playing Ogletree is lined up in Off Coverage to prevent the deep pass.
And now for the proper way to catch a slant when you want to protect the ball at all costs. Notice that at the snap of the ball, Ogletree ran straight at the DB for 7 yards, causing the DB to back peddle, until he reaches the 32, at which time he then does the slant at about 45 degrees.
Then at the 34-35, which was very close if not right at the first and ten marker, Ogletree did what a true vetran receiver is taught to do, he "Squared Up", meaning he turned his body toward Romo, giving Romo his "Numbers" and a wide target, Romo also threw at his right sholder to further limit the chance of a pick. Ogletree caught the ball and spun to the ground knowing he had the first down.
What a gutzy call by JG5000, and what great "execution" of the perfect way to run this play. I hate to use the term "Execution" because people will over simplify and say that "It is all about Execution", when in reality it starts with calling the right play first and not "Playing it safe" by running the ball and punting it and hope that the defense could hold the lead.
If the ball would have bounced off OgleTree's hands, or it wasn't run perfectly, we may have had a "pick six" and Romo would have been a bum. Even though it was just as much a great call by Garrett, it still would have been blamed on Romo.
I love that we went for the "Win" instead of "playing it safe", or "playing not to lose!"
Well, now that I have the All 22, as long as it is well received, expect more of this often.