NFL Review Week 3: Dalton and Green Answer

NFL Week 3 featured many blowouts and just a few close, competitive games. The clash between the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens was a seesaw affair, but when the Bengals trailed, the Dalton and Green answer was Mark Schofield’€™s NFL Big Gain of the week.

Following their 2-0 start, the Bengals traveled east for a big AFC North showdown with the Ravens. Midway through the fourth quarter, Elvis Dumervil strip-sacked Andy Dalton, and linebacker C.J. Mosley scooped up the loose football, racing to the end zone to give the hosts a 17-14 lead. It was the first time all season ‒ in 173 minutes of football ‒ that the Bengals trailed.

They did not trail for long.

Following a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Dalton and company line up at their own 20-yard line. The QB stands in the shotgun with running back Giovani Bernard (#25) to his left, and a 12 offensive personnel group on the field. The Bengals have trips to the left and tight end Tyler Kroft alone on the right. Baltimore has their base 3-4 defense on the field and show Cover 4 before the snap, but roll their coverage to Cover 3 as the play begins:NFLReview3BengalsPlay1Still1The offense runs a variation of the four verticals concept on this play. Marvin Jones (#82) and A.J. Green (#18) run straight streak routes, with Jones the outside trips receiver and Green the middle trips receiver. Kroft, the only receiver on the right side of the formation, also runs a vertical route, releasing to the outside and then upfield along the numbers. The slight twist is the post route from TE Tyler Eifert (#85), who begins the play on the left, but ends up crossing the formation:NFLReview3BengalsPlay1Still2

Against this coverage, the vertical routes from Green and Eifert bracket the safety, Will Hill (#33). With Eifert’€™s post route crossing in front of him, Hill needs to split the difference between both targets, while reading Dalton’€™s eyes and breaking on the football. If Hill breaks too early, in the wrong direction, or fails to maintain the balance between the two routes ‒ bad things can happen.

Meanwhile, Dalton is waiting on Hill, trying to influence the safety towards one of the two routes, so he can then throw the football to the other option:

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Dalton wins. Although to be fair, this is a very difficult play to defend for a free safety.

Safety Kendrick Lewis (#23) begins this play across from Green, gaining depth as the WR releases vertically. Lewis expects to have some help from Hill, but as you can see from this angle, Hill is still in the middle of the field as Dalton releases the football -€’ because he needs to respect the threat of Eifert’€™s vertical pattern:

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Dalton places this throw perfectly and Green takes care of the rest. The receiver shrugs off tackle attempts by both Jimmy Smith (#22) and Hill, before racing Lewis to the end zone.

They trailed for only eight seconds.

This touchdown put the Bengals back on top, 21-17. While the Ravens would retake the lead, it didn’t take long for Cincinnati to find another Dalton and Green answer, and a 28-24 victory.

Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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