After the game, I did my best at breaking down the Detroit Lions’ game-winning touchdown pass to Brock Wright. And while I think I did a pretty good job, my analysis doesn’t compare to that of the players playing the game.
When a play so thoroughly fools the opposing defense, the perspective of those defensive players becomes especially important. What did they see? What were they anticipating? Did something in their film study of the Lions cause them to be susceptible to such an effective fake?
Thankfully, we got answers to all of these questions from New York Jets cornerback D.J. Reed, who heaped a ton of praise on the Lions—and specifically offensive coordinator Ben Johnson—for the play.
Here’s Reed talking about the fourth-and-inches touchdown play:
“Credit to their OC, their head coach, whoever calls their plays. They gave the ball to their tight end, who normally doesn’t get the ball in those situations. We’re playing aggressive defense because it’s fourth-and-1. You have to play aggressive, and if we stop the run, we win the game.
“He literally blocked—he blocked whoever he blocked—for about one-to-two seconds, which if you see your man block, you’re going to naturally trigger for the run, and he kinda just squirted out to the opposite side of the field and was wide open. The receivers ran deeper developing routes on the other side of the field, so once he caught the ball, everybody else was on the other side of the field. So he, obviously, had a big lane to run through, and unfortunately he scored.
“So obviously we’re all devastated, but give credit where it’s due. That was a good play, but as a defense we put that on us. We want to be in those situations. We have a top defense in the NFL. So we put that on us, put that on our chest. We’ll take it to the chin, and obviously we’re going to watch the tape and we’ll learn from it, but you have to give credit to them for that play.”
Reed was then asked if the Lions had ever shown anything like that on tape. Here’s what he said:
“Not from our film study, unless you can show me that play. I know that No. 8 (Josh Reynolds) is their guy on fourth-and-1 where he gets the ball in those situations. That’s when he makes his money. That’s his bread and butter. Fourth-and-1, they’ll act like he’s blocking but he’s the receiver. So I was anticipating a receiver doing that. I wasn’t anticipating a tight end doing that. I don’t think anybody was. So, like I said, you’ve got to give credit to them for doing that play.”
You can watch the entire post-game exchange here (hat tip to Canadaler for the head’s up on this):