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NFL Divisional Round: Play of the Week

The divisional round saw two wild, back and forth games and two fairly simple wins. Our Play of the Week, unsurprisingly, comes from the cra


The divisional round saw two wild, back and forth games and two fairly simple wins. Our Play of the Week, unsurprisingly, comes from the crazy overtime match between Green Bay and Arizona. On the second play of the fourth quarter, down 13-10, Carson Palmer was intercepted in the endzone by Demaryius Randall.  The next drive, with the score the same, the Cardinals were once again in the redzone and looking to take the lead. Once again, Palmer threw at Randall but this time the outcome was very different, but in a totally unintended way….. 4th quarter: Green Bay 13 – 10 Arizona (3:51) 1st & Goal at GB 9…… The Cardinals are set up in the shotgun with trips to the right side. Green Bay show a press man coverage against it with one high safety. pre-snap 1 Circled: Larry Fitzgerald and Demaryius Randall Immediately off the snap Jaron Brown, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd take-off up field. Brown and Fitzgerald are so close that they create a small scrum with the DB’s covering them. This is a poor attempt at running a pick. Brown is legitimately running into and blocking Casey Heyward by the time they reach the point that Fitzgerald tries to cut inside. Ja. Brown pushed the pick, fitz under, FS down 2 Circled: Jaron Brown on the inside is blocking Heyward to try and give Fitzgerald room to cut inside. Free Safety Morgan Burnett sees this and comes down to take that space away This is clearly offensive pass interference by Brown, but as is usually the case late in playoff games the referees kept the flags in their pockets. In the initial stage of the play, however, that doesn’t matter. Fitzgerald cuts underneath Brown’s route/block and Randall, despite finding himself suddenly behind, and the wrong side of his receiver, is able to recover enough to get underneath Larry and get a hand across him to break up the pass. Randall breaks up pass 3 Circled: Randall lunging across and tipping the ball away as Burnett flies down to cut off Fitzgerald That is a top quality piece of cornerback play, backed up by a strong read from the free safety. The play is dead. It’s over. Expect it isn’t. The outside receiver, Michael Floyd, is running a post over the top of all of this. Floyd wins route 4 Circled: As the pass is deflected Floyd has continued his route but the corner has fallen off Floyd cuts his route, sees the pass has been tipped and that the ball is looping towards him. He steps in and catches it easily as it drifts over the head of a desperate Casey Heyward for a touchdown. This play has a piece of truly superb defensive play and might be the luckiest touchdown you will ever see. Coming a drive after throwing an interception it was just the piece of luck Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals needed in a match that was closer than most expected it to be. Randall couldn’t have made a better play if he knew the route beforehand. It was all designed to put him at a disadvantage and create space for Fitzgerald and yet, for as well as Randall – and Burnett – played that route it was still a touchdown. No one likes to talk about it but luck plays a huge part in professional sports even at the highest level and this play is a key reason Arizona will be playing Carolina this weekend, and that’s why it’s the play of the week.


Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

NFL Divisional Round: Play of the Week

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