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.
Wild Card Opponent – Kansas City Chiefs
Game reviewed vs Cincinnati Bengals
Q1 2:13 – 2nd and 7 from the CIN28
Cincinnati– 11 personnel
Kansas City – Nickel, Cover 3
The Bengals have one receiver in the slot to the left and a tight end on the end of the line to the right. There are two receivers in the slot to the right and a running back to the left of the quarterback who is in shotgun. Kansas City is in their nickel defense and will play a three deep coverage.
Prior to the snap, Tyler Boyd (83) who is on the outside to the right will motion all the way out wide to the left. This motion moves L’Jarius Sneed (38) who was over Boyd into a linebacker position and also Mike Hughes (21) who was over Ja’Marr Chase (1) in the left slot who will follow Boyd out wide. At the snap, the tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) will run a dig route and Tee Higgins (85) will run a shallow cross. Boyd will angle to the outside and run a go route up the sideline while Chase will curl to the outside at about twelve yards.
The pre snap motion took Hughes off of Chase leaving the safety to pick him up. With Boyd taking Hughes outside and Higgins drawing the linebacker up so he can’t get depth, there isn’t a player within six yards of Chase. A small gain after the catch would give the receiver a 15 yard gain but Chase outruns the defenders for 72 yard touchdown.
Steelers Scenario – The motion is the key here taking the defender outside and off of Chase in the slot. The Steelers could motion Chase Claypool outside to draw the corner and have Diontae Johnson in the slot running the curl. Ray-Ray McCloud or JuJu Smith-Schuster could run the shallow cross to draw the linebacker up.
Q2 4:30 – 1st and 10 at the KC18
Cincinnati– 11 personnel
Kansas City – Nickel, Cover 6
Cincinnati has three receivers grouped to the left and one out wide to the right. The running back is on the wing to the right and the quarterback is in shotgun. The Chiefs are again in their nickel defense and look to be in a Cover 6 defense.
Prior to the snap, running back Joe Mixon (28) will shift to the right side of the quarterback. This gets the linebackers to move to their right as well to cover what would be the likely side the offense would run toward if it’s a running play. To the left Higgins will run an out route, Boyd will run a post route and Uzomah will run an out breaking route. On the right side Chase will run a fade and Mixon will run a swing route.
Quarterback Joe Burrow will read the safety to the right side which is Tyrann Mathieu (32). With Mixon releasing right away on the swing route Mathieu will move up to cover him. This leaves Chase one-on-one with cornerback Charvarius Ward (35). Burrow throws a back shoulder throw and Chase wins for the touchdown. If Mathieu stays deep the swing route will be wide open for a good gain.
Steelers Scenario – The Steelers like to take their deep shots and Cincinnati had a ton of success hitting at least five deep balls down the sideline. Claypool has been playing better of late and he won these types of throws last year. He gets the opportunity here with Najee Harris getting the ball in space if Claypool gets doubled.
Q3 2:43– 2nd and 6 at the BAL32
Cincinnati -11 personnel
Kansas City – Nickel, Cover 2
The Bengals have one receiver wide to the left, one in the slot to the right and one wide to the right. The tight end is on the wing to the right and the running back is flanking the quarterback to the left who is in shotgun. Kansas City is again in their nickel defense and will drop into a Cover 2 look.
Prior to the snap, tight end Drew Sample (89) will motion to the left and settle on the wing. Boyd will then go in fly motion with the ball being snapped just in front of him. Burrow will then fake the handoff to Mixon to hold the linebackers. Boyd will continue on swing route, Higgins to the left will run a deep out and Chase to the right will run a post route.
Once the middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens (53) and slot corner Sneed see it’s not a running play they will turn their backs to the offense to get depth in their drops. Behind them the Bengals are running a well-executed screen. Burrow will dump of the ball to Mixon and with blockers in front he isn’t touched until he is 19 yards down the field. The gain is cut short by a questionable holding call downfield but the play design is sound.
Steelers Scenario – Keeping the tight end in to block gives added protection to give time to sell the fake to Mixon. Getting the defenders to turn their backs to the line of scrimmage gives them a huge advantage. The Steelers prefer to run wide receiver screens but could have success getting Harris the ball in space.