The Oakland Raiders impressive comeback victory over the Denver Broncos was sealed by a fake screen and a missed assignment. Daniel Syed takes an in-depth look at how the Raiders scored their go ahead touchdown.
The Raiders come out in trips left on 3rd and 15, with Amari Cooper (#89), Seth Roberts (#10), and tight end Mychal Rivera (#81) split left. Michael Crabtree (#15) is the sole receiver to the right. This is a simple scheme, using a fake outside stay screen to bait the Broncos into committing defenders forward, hoping to set up a big play. With Cooper running the stay pattern, Roberts and Rivera sell like they are blocking before releasing up the field on wheel and seam routes, respectively. On 3rd and 15, the fake screen and real go routes shouldn’t fool the normally disciplined Denver defense:
The Broncos bring five with a blitz from the middle linebacker. On the right side of the play, cornerback Aqib Talib (#21) is playing outside technique and getting inside help from safety Josh Bush (#20).
For the trips side, the Broncos have four defenders over three Raiders. Bradley Roby (#29) is the outside cornerback and he is showing inside technique. His assignment appears to be covering the deep 1/3 of the field, so with Cooper running a stay, Roby’s job is to take away any corner or deep out breaking routes.
Chris Harris Jr. (#25) is the inside, slot cornerback lined up over Roberts, and he is responsible for carrying any deep in routes from Roberts.
Finally, safeties Darian Stewart (#26) and Shiloh Keo (#33) are providing double coverage on the tight end. Stewart’s job is to “wall” off Rivera, or make sure he does not come open on a route inside, toward the middle of the field. Meanwhile, Keo is playing man-clue on Rivera; the safety’s eyes are focused on the tight end pre-snap, and Keo will be responsible for Rivera man-to-man if the tight end runs any vertical route. Essentially, Keo is providing deep help for Stewart on Rivera.
As the play unfolds, Keo abandons his presumed assignment, attacking downhill and breaking on the screen or anticipating a potential out route from Rivera. Meanwhile, the tight end sells the fake screen, then plants his foot, cuts up the field, and ends up wide open for the TD:
There is no reason for Keo to attack downhill on this coverage. If Rivera was blocking, Cooper would have to gain 15 yards after the catch in a 2-on-4 situation. If Rivera was running an out route, he would not only be short of the first down marker on 3rd and 15, but Keo would have help from Roby on the outside.
Keo’s main job was to defend against a vertical route from Rivera. This is simply poor football situational awareness and the safety falling for a fake resulted in a huge touchdown for the Raiders.
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Daniel Syed is a contributor to the ITP Glossary, as well as the operator of syedschemes.com. He has written about how to execute the Hail Mary and numerous passing concepts.
All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.