Anatomy of a Play  

 

Anatomy of a Play: Austin's slant-and-go touchdown

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  • By Greg Smith NFL Films
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For 3 1/2 quarters last Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles held Miles Austin to zero catches. The most explosive and dynamic receiver on the Cowboys roster was getting shut out, and the Eagles had the game tied.

With Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia offense struggling badly with their timing and execution, the Eagles defense needed to continue to contain Austin to win the game. That didn't happen.

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On third-and-14, with eight minutes to go, Austin left his mark on the game with a back-breaking, 49-yard touchdown reception.

The call for the Cowboys was a slant-and-go for Austin and the name of the route tells the whole story. It's a double-move, where the receiver first sells a slant to the inside and then turns upfield to go deep. The quarterback pumps the slant route and when the cornerback reacts forward, he throws the ball over the top.

The key to the play's success is the timing between the receiver's slant break and the quarterback's pump fake. It's amazing how perfectly Romo and Austin timed it, considering how little game action they've had together.

Romo stared at Austin off the line of scrimmage and Austin purposefully ran a sloppy-looking slant route to bait Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown. When running a double-move, you oftentimes want to telegraph the first move, so that the defender can see it coming and react to it.

Romo's stare-down and Austin's route were the perfect bait for Brown. When Romo pumped the ball to Austin, Brown bit as hard as he could bite, and was hooked.

Austin blew past Brown on the second phase of his route and Romo made an accurate, touch throw, allowing Austin to catch the ball in stride and make a move toward the end zone.

Considering the third-and-14 situation, the Eagles should never have been beaten so badly on a double-move. But executing in critical fourth quarter situations like these is what separates the good teams from all the others. The Cowboys proved, against their division rival, that they're good enough and confident enough to make these critical plays.

Austin is a big reason why.

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