It was less than two weeks ago when Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was being praised for a game-winning play call on fourth-and-1 against the New York Jets. The play saw the Lions put Amon-Ra St. Brown in motion to the right, drawing the eyes and attention of the Jets defense. In the meantime, tight end Brock Wright—originally lined up inline on the right side of the offensive line—faked a run block, then slipped out of the defense to the left side of the field, where the Jets had completely vacated.
The result was a 51-yard touchdown pass with under two minutes remaining. That would prove to be the game-winning score as Detroit held on to win 20-17 in a critical game.
Why do I bring this all up? Because it appears Johnson didn’t just get noticed and praised by the NFL world that week. His influence appears to have reached the college ranks, as well.
On Friday night during the Gator Bowl, the Notre Dame Irish pulled off a near-identical play with the stakes just as high: third-and-7, tie game, with 1:47 left.
Let’s look at them back to back. Here’s the Lions’ game-winning play:
Made the Wright play on 4th down!#DETvsNYJ | CBS pic.twitter.com/RkLdogmS3S— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 18, 2022
And here’s Notre Dame’s call on Friday:
Buchner to Evans— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 31, 2022
Back up 7️⃣#GoIrish pic.twitter.com/59Slvz5F9K
The only real difference here is that the Irish didn’t send their decoy in motion pre-snap, they draw him right at the start of the play. Otherwise, almost everything else is the same. The receiver at the bottom of the screen runs a deep, clear-out route, the tight end—Mitchell Evans—feigns a quick block before breaking open, and the quarterback finds him wide open for the game-winning score.
In what is an awesome twist of coincidence, Lions tight end Brock Wright, who scored the touchdown for Detroit, is a Notre Dame alumni. Perhaps he slipped him a note.