Anatomy of a Play: Jackson's training reel route

The 18-yard touchdown pass that beat the New York Giants last Sunday was an excellent call by San Diego and was perfectly executed under pressure by Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson.

The Giants' defensive call was Cover 2-Man, with man-to-man coverage on all five eligible receivers and two deep safeties over the top for help. Based on tendency, the Chargers had a feeling that would be New York's call, and ran a route combination to beat it.

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San Diego sent three receivers deep. The outside receivers ran "7's," or deep corner routes, threatening the safeties to the outside. Tight end Antonio Gates ran down the middle of the field, threatening the safeties to the inside.

Rivers was responsible for reading the safety to the side of Gates and Jackson. If the safety hung inside to help on Gates, then he couldn't possibly be a factor on the throw to Jackson. Rivers did a nice job of keeping his eyes inside, attracting the safety to the middle. Rivers then took one hop and made a very quick delivery to the corner.

With the safety focused on Gates, Jackson was now one-on-one with his man defender, cornerback Corey Webster.

Webster jumped inside at the snap, allowing Jackson a clean, outside release up the field. Webster would probably tell you himself that it was bad technique. But Jackson deserves credit for making an initial hard-move inside, which got Webster to make the mistake.

Jackson then sprinted up the field with Webster in a trail position. Webster was in decent shape until Jackson made his next move, bending in toward the middle of the field. That closed the distance between the two players and forced Webster to drift inside, ever so slightly. Just as Webster took a step inside, Jackson made his speed cut to the corner. Two to three yards of separation was created.

At that point, Webster was beat and needed to make up ground. But instead of sprinting to catch up, he looked back for the football. By doing that, his body naturally slowed down, allowing Jackson to maintain the separation and make an uncontested catch in the end zone.

It's easy to be critical of Webster's coverage when you've got the privilege of replay angles, slow motion, and time. But in the heat of the moment, when the game was on the line, it would have been difficult for any cornerback to cover Jackson on that play.

Norv Turner was very complimentary of both Rivers and Jackson after the game but his most compelling comment regarded Jackson's "7" route.

"The last route is how you would teach a guy to run that route against that coverage," Turner said. "It'll be a training reel."

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