Sometimes in pro football, things are not what they appear to be. On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs blew a 21-point lead and lost to Tampa Bay 30-27 in overtime. Many Chiefs fans blamed rookie cornerback Maurice Leggett for the bitter defeat because they thought he was burned for a 23-yard touchdown pass in the final minute.
Anatomy of a Play
But this week's Anatomy of a Play shows it was veteran safety Jarrad Page, not the rookie, who was victimized on the Jeff Garcia-to-Antonio Bryant touchdown pass. Postgame accounts that said the Buccaneers cleverly targeted Leggett, who was in the game as a replacement for the injured Brandon Flowers, were mistaken.
With 25 seconds left in the game, Tampa Bay trailed the Chiefs 27-19. The Buccaneers had the ball, first down at the Kansas City 23. The Chiefs were in their standard defense, a Cover 2. In that coverage, the safeties -- Page and Bernard Pollard -- are responsible for playing the deep outside zones. Linebacker Pat Thomas drops to cover the deep middle.
The Buccaneers lined up two receivers to the left -- Bryant on the outside and Ike Hilliard in the slot. Bryant ran a go route straight up the sideline. Leggett covered Bryant off the line, but he expected Page to provide help over the top. However, Page never got there. Why? Jeff Garcia.
The veteran quarterback used his mobility to break down the Chiefs defense. He scrambled to his left and that movement put Page in no-man's land. The safety wasn't sure what Garcia might do, pass or run, so he hesitated. When Page saw Garcia cock his arm to throw, he tried to get back to his deep zone coverage, but it was too late. Bryant was open and the ball was on its way.
The fans in the stands and those watching on TV saw Garcia's pass sail over Leggett's fingertips and into the arms of Bryant for a touchdown, so it looked like Leggett was at fault. Really, it was Page who was beaten on the play, which pulled the Buccaneers within two points, 27-25.
Part two of this week's anatomy is the two-point conversion that sent the game to overtime. That was another example of Garcia's resourcefulness. The play was designed to go to tight end Jerramy Stevens, but when he was covered, Garcia coolly looked to his left and found a narrow window to hit Alex Smith for the crucial conversion.
"You have to stay patient against that defense," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said, referring to the Cover 2. "Give Jeff credit. He did a nice job creating things out there."