The Cowboys started off strong in their preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. Their first drive took them 97 yards, both starting and ending with runs by rookie running back Tony Pollard. Ultimately Pollard had five carries for 42 yards on the opening drive. He finished it up with a 15-yard touchdown which is our Play of the Game.
A Jason Witten reception brought the Cowboys into the redzone with 1st and 10 on the 14-yard line. The team came out in a 3x1 set, this is two wide receivers and a tight end to their right, one wide receiver to their left, and Pollard alone in the backfield with Dak Prescott under center.
To understand what happened on this play, we must first look at the blocking.
This is an outside zone play. Witten blocks out on the defensive end. He gets pushed into the backfield but manages to maintain his block on John Franklin-Myers. Right tackle La’el Collins takes a wide path. He is responsible for the C-Gap defender. After ensuring that the defensive end did not stunt inside of Witten he works up to the second level engaging on Rams safety Steven Parker.
Right guard Xavier Su’a-Filo and center Travis Frederick are responsible for a combo block on 3-technique Morgan Fox working up to Taylor Rapp. Su’a-Filo engages on Fox’s outside shoulder, while Frederick reaches on his inside. As Rapp flows to his left, Frederick takes over the block on Fox and Su’a-Filo works up to the block Rapp.
Left guard Connor Williams is responsible for the A-Gap defender, Tanzel Smart. Williams engages him, but is leaning too far forward. Smart takes advantage of this and throws him to the ground. He is able to get to Pollard but cannot make the tackle.
That leaves two defenders remaining in the box and only left tackle Cameron Fleming to block them. Fleming steps hard into the B-Gap. This is the closest to the play, and Fleming must make sure that no one can run through it unimpeded. When no one attempts to run through this gap, he wheels back to block the most dangerous of the pursuers.
Pollard takes a wide path. His first read is the block of the end man on the line of scrimmage, Franklin-Myers. When he sees that Witten is blocking the defender out, Pollard’s eyes go to the combo on the three technique, Fox. When Pollard sees that Su’a-Filo and Frederick have washed Fox out, he cuts tight off of Frederick’s butt. Remember, there is an unblocked player on the back side, so it is important that Pollard not cut back too far.
Pollard lowers his shoulder and runs through Smart’s attempted tackle. By the time additional Rams defenders get to him, his momentum is enough to carry him into the endzone.
On this play Pollard shows great vision and balance to finish off the team’s opening drive with a touchdown. Expectations are high for Pollard, and so far he is living up to them.