NFL Big Gain Week 4: C.J. Spiller Ended The Proceedings

A big gain isn’t always a scoring play, or even a game-winning play. But when C.J. Spiller ended the proceedings Sunday night, Mark Schofield ran to the film room to break it down.

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints were desperately wanting  their first win of the season Sunday night when they hosted the Dallas Cowboys. On the second play of overtime, and with injuries mounting in the Dallas linebacking corps, the Saints finally got the big play they were looking for – and the win they badly needed.

Having missed a potential game-winning kick at the end of regulation, the Saints started the extra quarter with the football. On their first play, Brees threw an incompletion to running back Khiry Robinson. But reserve linebacker Andrew Gachkar (#52), in the game for starter Kyle Wilber (#51), limped off the field after the play, forcing the Cowboys to bring on another reserve linebacker, Keith Smith (#56). With LB Sean Lee already out with a concussion, this gave the defense two backup LBs on the play, with Damien Wilson (#57) already in the game for Lee.

The Saints break the huddle with 11 offensive personnel for this play, while the Cowboys, even with the linebacker injuries mounting, stay with their base 4-3 personnel, which you can see being signaled in by the coaches here:NFLReview4SaintsPlay1Still1

The Saints empty the backfield, putting running back C.J. Spiller (#28) in a tight slot to the right, with trips on the left. The Cowboys ‒ and their linebackers ‒ try to figure out their responsibilities as they set up, settling on Cover 1 in the secondary. Here you can see MLB Anthony Hitchens (#59) trying to get Smith in the right spot before the snap:  NFLReview4SaintsPlay1Gif1

Hitchens might have wanted to check the other side. On the right side of the offense, Brandin Cooks (#10) runs a quick slant route, bringing cornerback Morris Claiborne (#24) away from that side of the field. Spiller runs a quick wheel route to the outside.

Brees, perhaps noticing the pre-snap confusion, calls for the snap quickly. Or perhaps he just saw the matchup indicated by the coverage. Either way, LB Wilson is responsible for Spiller on this play, but at the snap he quickly loses sight of the RB. Brees does not:

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The QB hits Spiller in stride, and now the shifty running back just has to make free safety Barry Church miss. He does. Spiller takes this play the distance, and the Saints have themselves a crucial victory in overtime.

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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