NFL Inflection Point: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s Pick Six

The turnover battle often determines the winner of the game, but not all turnovers are equal in their impact. Some truly tilt the game in one team’s favor and permanently change the course of the game. Philip Kibbey breaks down what happened on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s pick six that put the New York Giants in the driver’s seat against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys came out of the half up 13-10 with the ball and the opportunity to put the Giants behind by two scores. Based on The Q5 Game Map, the contest had generally gone in the Cowboys favor, but the field goal by New York before the break made this an even matchup by the time Josh Brown opened the second half kicking to Lucky Whitehead. But a huge jump in the success score for the Giants occurred when Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie high stepped his way to the end zone on the play below. NYGweek72015Dallas is at midfield after an 11-yard completion to Terrance Williams. The Cowboys line up in 11 offensive personnel with trips to the wide side of the field and Williams lined up on the opposite side, running a deep curl route. The Giants counter with a Cover 3 with the free safety shaded to the trips side of the field. Rodgers-Cromartie draws Williams and plays the coverage tight:

Coverage still NYG vs DAL

As the play develops Matt Cassel first looks to the trips side looking for Cole Beasley running a slant or Brice Butler on the streak; however, both are covered. He then works his progressions back toward Williams running the deep curl route. Because the coverage is Cover 3, Cassel likely assumes this will be an easy throw.

Quarterbacks like to attack the weakside against this coverage because often the flat defender to that side of the field is less adept in coverage, and is unlikely to be in a dangerous position in his underneath zone. Additionally, the deep curl is a terrific route against this coverage, as the cornerback does not have help deep and needs to respect a potential vertical route.

However, Rodgers-Cromartie plays this excellently, staying off the receiver and breaking on the route perfectly. He jumps the route, and combined with a poor throw from Cassel to the back shoulder of Williams, grabs the pass and takes it 60 yards for the score:

[jwplayer file=”http://cdn.insidethepylon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/DRCINTVideo1.mp4″ image=”http://cdn.insidethepylon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/DRCINTStill1.jpg”]

This interception was one of four second half takeaways by the Giants. But it’s clear by looking at the game map that it did the most to alter the trajectory of the game based on the success measurement line chart not he Q5 graphic. On this play, Rodgers-Cromartie perfectly defended the pass, and Cassel attempted to make a throw in tight coverage, but did so with poor accuracy. Even if the quarterback makes a good throw, the CB is in perfect position to defend it. But most importantly it put the Cowboys behind for the remainder of the game.

Follow Philip on Twitter @ITPPhilip.

Inside The Pylon covers the NFL and college football, reviewing the film, breaking down matchups, and looking at the issues, on and off the field.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass & TheQ5.com.

Editor’s Note: An astute reader pointed out that Miles Austin is no longer a Cowboy. The article has been updated to reflect that Brice Butler is running the streak route.

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