Splash plays. Every team wants them but how do they happen? This article is going to look at the defense of the upcoming opponent focusing on the three big plays they allowed the previous or recent weeks. It’ll take a look at the whole play including details such as personnel, formations, blocking schemes and route combinations. As a follow up to each play, there will be the Steelers Scenario identifying the player or players who could benefit by running similar plays.
Week 14 Opponent – Minnesota Vikings
Game reviewed vs Baltimore Ravens
Q1 14:19 – 2nd and 5 from the BAL30
Baltimore – 20 personnel
Minnesota – Base 4-3, Cover 4
The Ravens have two receivers in the slot to the left and two to the right. The quarterback is in shotgun with a running back to his right. Minnesota is in their base defense and look to be in a quarter’s coverage.
Prior to the snap, fullback Patrick Ricard (42) will motion from right slot to the backfield. Lamar Jackson (8) will use play action to get two of the three linebackers to read the play as a run. Marquise Brown (5) is on the outside of the pair of receivers to the left and he’ll run a deep curl straight up the field at fifteen yards. Devin Duvernay (13) and will run a slot fade toward the left sideline. On the other side Rashod Bateman (12) will run a bang 8 route where he angles to the outside before cutting inside.
The Vikings defensive Everson Griffen (97) gets quick pressure so Jackson has to get the ball out early and he hits Bateman for a 13 yard gain. However, with more time he could hit Brown on the curl or running back Devonta Freeman (33) who is leaking out of the backfield.
Steelers Scenario – The Steelers sprinkle in 20 personnel and I don’t think they run any play like this one. James Washington or Anthony Miller would likely run the deep curl and Chase Claypool the deep route on the bang 8. The slot fade would then fall to Diontae Johnson who has made several nice catches near the sideline recently.
Q1 8:32– 1st and 10 at the BAL25
Baltimore – 21 personnel
Minnesota – Base 4-3, Cover 4
Baltimore has a receiver wide to the left with a tight end in the slot. To the right the fullback is lined up as a tight end on the line of scrimmage with a wide receiver in the slot. The running back is to the left of the quarterback who is in shotgun. The Vikings are again in their base defense.
Prior to the snap Brown will go into motion to the left from the right slot and will be moving at the snap. The offensive line will move to the right with the running back in a read option look. To the left, Mark Andrews (89) will run a corner route from the slot. Brown will take his route to the flat while Bateman runs a go route.
The fake to the running back gets linebacker Eric Hendricks (54) to take one step to his left making him late into coverage. The Bateman route clears out the space where Andrews ends up leaving him open for 13 yard gain. He could also hit Brown who has a linebacker on him in the flat or Ricard leaking out from the tight end spot.
Steelers Scenario – Again, the Steelers run nothing like this. Johnson would be the motion man with Claypool on the go route. Hit Pat Freiermuth on the corner route, Johnson in the flat or Derek Watt or Zach Gentry leaking out from the TE position.
Q2 6:59 1st and 10 at the LAR28
Baltimore – 22 personnel
Minnesota – Base 4-3
The Ravens have a receiver in the left slot and a tight end on the end of the line to the right. The quarterback is in a pistol formation with a running back behind him, a full back to his left and a tight end to his right. Minnesota is in their base defense.
This is a beauty of a running play with a lot going on. Prior to the snap, tight end Andrews will move from a fullback positon to the left wing. At the snap, the right tackle and center will pull to the left joining Andrews to look like lead blockers on a run to the left. This gets three defensive lineman and linebacker Anthony Barr (55) to move to their right.
The fullback Ricard will lead in the opposite direction with Jackson behind him getting linebackers Nick Vigil (59) and Hendricks to key on him and move to their left. Meanwhile left guard Ben Powers (72) will reach block on the 1 technique Armon Watts (96) and right guard Kevin Zeitler will get inside of 3 technique Dalvin Tomlinson (94) creating a gap right up the middle for a nine yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – I love this play. This has misdirection going to the outside in both directions clearing a path up the middle. If the Steelers guards can pull off these blocks for just a second you get Najee Harris to the second level where he can try to create.