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The Play That Wasn’t There: First-and-Goal Interception

| September 17th, 2013

This is not an X’s and O’s site. Never has been and – unless I hear someone like Matt Bowen – never will be. There are plenty of places around the internet and sports world to turn for play breakdown. But this weekly feature will hopefully illuminate for both myself and the common fan why something didn’t work on the field. Usually the answer is pretty simple.

4:36 remaining in the second quarter

1st and goal Bears at the Minnesota 1 yard line

THE FORMATION

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Thom Brennaman was beside himself and Twitter exploded with criticism of the play call. (Brennaman went so far as to call it “unbelievable” as if no one has ever throw on first down at the goalline before.)

“HOW CAN YOU THROW THE BALL ON FIRST AND GOAL FROM THE ONE WHEN YOU’VE RUN THE BALL ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE?”

That’s exactly WHY ¬†you throw the ball. Look at the defense Minnesota is in. There are playing 100% run. You know how I know that?

THE THROW

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I. Tony Fiammetta runs the classic west coast offense, fullback-to-the flat route. Covered.

II. Matt Forte stays in to block Brian Robison and does well. Cutler was under very little pressure on the play.

III. Martellus Bennett is the decoy on the route, releasing into the end zone and drawing a double team.

IV. Steve Maneri isn’t just open. He’s WIDE open. There isn’t a player within two yards of him – not easy to pull off with a first-and-goal from the one. There were people who actually said Cutler “forced” this throw. Forced? You force passes into coverage. If Cutler didn’t throw this pass I’d question his vision.

V. Everson Griffen beats Jordan Mills and gets up in the air to bat the ball down. It was a remarkable display of athleticism and without that move the ball is easily completed for a touchdown.

MY VERDICT

I’m not big on using pop culture references but this strikes me as neither popular nor cultural anymore. It also was the only thing in my mind watching the tape.

Jay is a fastball pitcher. That is his go-to delivery. But a nicely delivered touch pass to the back of the end zone would have been a gimme touchdown for Maneri – the first of his career. Just because Cutler has one of the strongest arms in the league doesn’t mean he has to display it on every play. Float it, Jay. Drop it over the top. Touchdown.

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