Washington's offensive line had mauled the Eagles' defense through two and a half quarters and running back Clinton Portis was pounding the ball off the left side in the running game. It was the perfect time to call a trick play and the Redskins happened to have the master of trickery at their disposal, wide receiver and former college quarterback, Antwaan Randle El.
On 23 career regular-season pass attempts, Randle El boasts a passer rating of 154.1. He's completed 19 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Randle El also had a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XL. Typically, he throws the ball deep down the field to his primary receiver, which is impressive enough, but on this particular play, his execution was even more remarkable because he read through a progression and hit his secondary option.
Anatomy of a Play
It was first-and-10 from the Eagles' 18-yard line midway through the third quarter. Washington baited the Eagles defenders by faking legitimate run action to the left. Everything initially looked like counter to Ladell Betts. Philly's linebackers bit hard, attacking downhill as if Betts had the ball.
Tight end Chris Cooley was part of the initial run fake. His job was to block down, with the left tackle and left guard, to simulate counter action. After selling the block, Cooley would leak out on a crossing pattern to be Randle El's secondary receiver.
The primary target was Santana Moss going deep on a post corner route. Cornerback Asante Samuel was guarding Moss. The expectation was that Samuel would bite forward, reacting to Randle-El's run threat, and abandon his deep coverage on Moss. But when Randle El took the reverse handoff and sped around to the right side of the field, he saw that Samuel played with discipline and remained deep, maintaining his coverage on Moss.
Instead of heaving the ball into the end zone (which Samuel may have intercepted), Randle El patiently waited with the ball and looked back inside for Cooley. Defensive end Juqua Parker reacted to the reverse pretty well and was bearing down on Randle El, who would not have been at fault if he had tucked the ball and run for four yards, or thrown the ball away. But because he's a playmaker, Randle El impressively threw across his body, on the run, to an open Cooley for an 18-yard touchdown.
Randle El's numbers would probably drop if his sample of passes went up. But with his choice last Sunday, to go through his progression instead of running the ball, it's obvious that he is a quarterback at heart and relishes his chance to throw the football.