Chalkboard session: Why a simple pitch-sweep goes 77 yards

Brandon Pettigrew #87 of the Detroit Lions battles with Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahwaks...

Brandon Pettigrew #87 of the Detroit Lions battles with Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahwaks during the game at Ford Field on October 28, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Seahwaks 28-24. (Leon Halip/Getty Images/AFP)

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:53 PM ET

There’s pretty much only one way for a simple toss-sweep to go 77 yards for a touchdown.

All potential tacklers must get blocked.

And that’s how the Seattle Seahawks did it last Sunday in Detroit, on the first play of the second quarter. The Lions led 7-3, and the Seahawks had the ball on their own 23, 1st-and-10.

As the accompanying video shows, the Seahawks come out in a bunched running formation, and defy the Lions to stop it.

The Lions counter with their regular ‘9-wide’ defensive formation – a 4-3 with the ends flexed wider than usual. Seattle’s blocking is set up accordingly.

It’s a toss-sweep to the right, and the Seahawks get a hat on every potential tackler – if only momentarily, but long enough for running back Marshawn Lynch to bust free up the right side.

The blocks:

- The tight end on the left, Zach Miller, on Lions end Kyle Vanden Bosch;

- Left tackle Russell Okung on Lions DT Corey Williams;

- Centre Max Unger on Lions DT Ndamukong Suh;

- The slotted tight end on the right, Anthony McCoy, on end Cliff Avril;

- The one wide receiver, Ben Obomanu (renowned for his physical blocking), on linebacker Kevin Durant;

- The two guards, James Carpenter and Paul McQuistan, shoot through the line and successfully dive to cut-block the other two linebackers, Ashlee Palmer and Stephen Tulloch – which creates enough wash to prevent either cornerback Jonte Green or safety Louis Delmas from getting to the playside;

- The right tackle, Breno Giacomini, takes off to the right, on a search-and-devour mission aimed at playside cornerback Chris Houston. Giacomini drive-blocks Houston right to the sideline and out of the way;

- That leaves one Seattle blocker, fullback Michael Robinson, and one potential Detroit tackler – the safety on the playside, Ricardo Silva. And Robinson shoots right up the alley and ploughs straight into the fast-approaching Silva, and drives him back and to the right.

That’s it. Every blocker does his job, Lynch turns on the jets once he gets the edge, and is gone.

Just like the coaches drew it up.

Of course, running plays seldom work this way – there’s almost always a defender either beating a block, or a blocker blowing an assignment, or the runner misses the hole.

Or countless other things that might wrong.

Not on this play.

It didn’t help the Lions that their safeties and corners – with no receivers spread wide on either side – crouched up and in. It was not a proud moment for the Lions’ defence.

Seattle thus went ahead 10-7, and later took a 24-21 lead into the final seconds before the Lions pulled out a 28-24 victory.

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The new big player: Spotlighting a breakout performer

Casey Hayward

Cornerback, Green Bay Packers

He was the third defender drafted by the Green Bay Packers in April, and the eight defensive back taken overall.

But in the past month, Casey Hayward is showing what he himself believed all along – that he can play at an elite level in the NFL.

Hayward this past week was named the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month for October, after intercepting four balls.

That’s his season total too, which is top among all rookies this season.

The 5-foot-11, 192-pounder had 13 interceptions in his last two seasons at Vanderbilt University in the SEC, so his nose for the ball is no fluke.

Selected 62nd overall in the second round – after new teammates Nick Perry (outside linebacker, 28th overall) and Jerel Worthy (defensive end, 51st overall) – Hayward actually wants opposing quarterbacks to try to pick on him.

“You want the ball to come at you, no matter if you’re a Pro Bowler or not,” Hayward told reporters before Week 8. “The more opportunities you have to get the ball, that’s what I like. So they can keep throwing the ball at me all they want. They’re going to catch a few balls there, but I feel like I’m going to make a few plays as well.”

Hayward didn’t play a lot in September, but once he started getting chances, he’d make plays. His two interceptions in Green Bay’s blowout victory at Houston earned him a starting job.

Hayward said he has no preference whether he lines up outside or inside as a nickelback.

“Either or – it don’t matter. I get more comfortable in or outside every week.”

His head coach, Mike McCarthy, loves Hayward’s versatility.

“I just think he’s a heck of a football player,” McCarthy said in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “For a rookie to come in here and play as many positions and to pick up the way he has, he just needs to play, so I’m very happy with the progress he’s making.”

So is Hayward’s defensive coordinator, Dom Capers.

“He has football instincts,” Capers said in the Journal Sentinel. “And that’s kind of what we saw on film of him at Vanderbilt, that he was always around the ball.”

There are a slew of reasons the Packers are vastly improved on defence this year. Hayward is one of them.

 


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