Anatomy of a Play  

 

Anatomy of a Play: Bush's double-reverse touchdown

  • By Greg Smith NFL Films
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The New Orleans Saints remained undefeated with a furious, 36-point second-half rally in Miami. The key to their turnaround was play calling and execution. Coach Sean Payton kept his team focused on one snap at a time and the Saints delivered.

An example of one of Payton's well-timed play calls and New Orleans' high-level of execution was Reggie Bush's 10-yard touchdown run.

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The Saints were trailing 34-24 early in the fourth quarter and faced a second-and-7 situation. Payton knew what the Dolphins would do defensively and called a play to take advantage.

A double-reverse is something you don't often see in the NFL. It requires tricky handoffs between players who don't ordinarily hand off the ball, and a lot of time to develop. The risk can be rewarded, however, if the defense is tired, confused, or over-aggressive. In this case, Miami may have suffered from all three.

The Dolphins played man-to-man coverage, which was ideal to run a reverse against because the defenders were focused on their man and not on the development of the play, as they would have in zone coverage.

The Saints also benefited from a stunt by outside linebacker Joey Porter and defensive end Randy Starks. In the direction Bush was headed on his double-reverse, Porter slanted inside and Starks looped outside. When that happened, the faster Porter was replaced as the contain player by the slower Starks. That meant when Bush was sprinting around the corner, the 305-pound Starks would be the one trying to stop him.

New Orleans improved the play's effectiveness with a pre-snap shift and a quick count. The shift got the Dolphins to flip personnel from one side to the other and the quick count kept Miami from getting set after they'd flipped.

Once the ball was snapped, the Saints attacked with a downhill run fake by Pierre Thomas, forcing the playside linebackers, and Porter, to react hard. Once the ball was handed to Marques Colston on the first reverse, both linebackers and Porter altered their course toward Colston.

The exchange between Colston and Bush was sloppy. Bush nearly dropped the ball but managed to hold on. As he neared Starks, Bush received a crucial block from quarterback Drew Brees. Brees sealed Starks to the inside, allowing Bush to turn the corner at full speed.

Three blockers were out in front and Bush was able to attack the goal line. A missed block on the safety was the reason Bush leaped so dramatically. The human-catapulting act was just a glimpse of what Bush can do with the ball in space.

Payton has complete confidence in his play design and play-calling skills, as well as his team's ability to execute that design under pressure. This play illustrated that perfectly.

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