Another Monday, another Monday Moment!
This week, I decided to skip over the week 4 victory in San Francisco and get right into the Cowboys’ demolishing of the Cincinnati Bengals week 5 of last season.
After defeating two lowly opponents in the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers, much of the national media was calling for the Cowboys’ match-up with the Bengals to be their reality check. A physical defense, experienced quarterback, and what many considered prior to the season to be a playoff caliber roster awaited the Cowboys in the Bengals.
Instead, Dallas came out and dominated from the opening kickoff, and ended up winning 28-14 in a game which wasn’t even that close.
Already up 21-0, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott delivered the dagger on their first play from scrimmage in the second half. Going for 60 yards and a touchdown, Zeke put to bed any hope of a comeback win for the Bengals.
Let’s get into the play.
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Before I break it down, just enjoy that .gif a couple of times.
What a run, huh?
The most ironic thing about this incredible run is that the front-side of the play wasn’t even blocked very well. Sure, Zeke goes untouched here, but that is mostly due to his own doing, and a couple key backside blocks.
Typically on inside zone plays such as these, the backside edge defender is left unblocked, unless he crosses the face of the tackle/tight end. The idea is that it will be almost impossible for him to make the play from behind anyway, especially if the tackle correctly slow-plays it on the backside.
If he is crashing hard, and causing havoc, however, you have two options. You can either run a read-option type play and make the edge defender honor the quarterback, or you can bring a tight end across the formation to cut him off. In this case, you sometimes see designed cut-backs runs as well.
Here, the Cowboys go with the latter option and it works to perfection.
Tight end Geoff Swaim comes up with a huge block on the backside, allowing Ezekiel Elliott a clear cut back lane on the right side. On that same right side, Zack Martin and Doug Free execute their assignments beautifully.
As the defensive tackle slants inside of him, Martin down blocks and takes him right down the line of scrimmage and out of the play. The tackle, Doug Free, is then free to get to the second level and cut off the MIKE linebacker who is flowing over to make the tackle on Elliott.
With Swaim, Martin, and Free all making their blocks, Zeke has a clear read on where to run, and does the rest himself.
This is almost exactly how Scott Linehan drew it up. When blocking assignments are executed correctly, and you have a back like Ezekiel Elliott, every play has a chance to end like this one did.
With a touchdown.