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NFL Play of the Week: Super Bowl week

Super Bowl 50 wasn’t one for the neutrals. There was no back-and-forth offensive shootout, no last second


Super Bowl 50 wasn’t one for the neutrals. There was no back-and-forth offensive shootout, no last second heroics or fourth quarter comebacks. There was just two great defenses smothering the opposition until one of them tapped out. A lot has been made of Cam Newton’s failure to dive on a late fumble and his sullen press conference after the game, but after being beaten up from first whistle to last, one could perhaps understand Newton’s eagerness to get out of Levi’s Stadium as quickly as possible. Von Miller was an utter terror on the edge for the Broncos as he picked up 2.5 sacks and forced 2 fumbles, the first of which is our Play of the Week and had a lot to do with Cam’s disheartened post-match appearance…

Denver 3 – 0 Carolina

1st Quarter [6:34], 3rd & 10, Carolina 15…. 3rd and longs are best avoided against this Denver defense, but after an incomplete pass to Jericho Cotchery down field and a Jonathan Stewart run for no gain that was where the Panthers found themselves. Rather than trying to get some yards and punt, Carolina ran an empty backfield set and looked to pick up the first down. It was a brave decision, and one that Offensive Co-Ordinator Mike Shula probably will regret. 1 Circled: Von Miller gets off the line so fast he’s 2.5 yards deep when Cam gets the ball The Panthers have lined up Greg Olsen as a wing on the left and Mike Tolbert as a wing on the right to provide some extra pass protection. The problem is that neither of them touch a Broncos defender. Tolbert allows Von Miller a clean get-off and acceleration round the corner, giving right tackle Mike Remmers no help whatsoever. In fact Tolbert’s presence on this play is a negative to Remmers as it widens Miller out, giving him a better angle of attack. On the other side of the line Greg Olsen is left doing nothing as DeMarcus Ware twists inside. 2 Circled: Greg Olsen with nothing to block as Ware loops inside. Of the 6 blockers here 4 are now occupied with DeMarcus Ware and Malik Jackson. Whatever the protection call was it didn’t work. Mike Tolbert, on 3rd & 10, has released to run a shallow crosser leaving Von Miller with a clean and wide run at an isolated right tackle. Meanwhile Carolina’s best receiver Olsen was standing at the line of scrimmage doing nothing. This doesn’t bode well. So how does Miller beat Remmers? From the broadcast angle you see Miller sell him a dummy inside. There is so much space there that Remmers has to honour it. He’s truly isolated on this play and it ends horribly. 3 Circled: Miller sells an inside move before shooting outside Miller’s feint inside gets Remmers off balance and then he follows up with quick, forceful hands to break any contact Remmers might try to make. 4 Circled: Miller sheds the lunging grab of Remmers to get to Newton The truly terrifying thing is that, as you can see from the first picture, the play starts at 6:34 and by 6:33 Von Miller is 8.5 yards deep and around his blocker. He has got further into the backfield than the wide receivers have down field. Miller has managed to shed Remmers without losing any speed and he’s got an oblivious Cam Newton squarely in his sights. 5 Circled: Mike Tolbert is the only open receiver and he is just 1 yard advanced from the LoS. Everyone else is covered. From another angle you can see what’s happening as Miller sheds Remmers. The Panthers receivers are barely into their routes as they get down field to try and get a first down. The only option Newton has to save the play is taking Tolbert on the check down immediately. But this play is only a second old, normally a quarterback would have at least 3 seconds before considering the check down or bailing out. The top of the pocket is clean as Ryan Kalil picked up Ware’s twist but Newton has barely set his feet by the time Miller wins the corner and starts coming inside at full speed. This play is one second old, and it’s already dead. 6 Circled: Miller rips the ball out as he hits Newton Part of Miller’s brilliance as a player is that he sees the position Newton is in and maximises the opportunity. When Miller hits him Newton has barely cocked his arm, never mind started his motion. The ball is just in one hand, and because he’s rushing from the open side Miller can see this. He hits Newton and then brings his hands into the ball, wrenching it easily from Newton’s grip and the rest is history. Barely half way through the first quarter the Denver Broncos defense had set the tone for the day. They had let everyone know they were the dominant force on the field, not the Panthers. At 10-0, with more than 50 minutes left to play there was already an air of inevitability about the game. The Panthers started their next drive with -6 yards on offense in 2 possessions against a defensive unit that had held high powered offenses to under 20 points in their last 2 games. A unit that had just shown they could get to a quarterback in a flash. The game wasn’t over at this point, but it certainly felt like it. By the time Newton’s 4th quarter fumble happened Denver had already sacked him 4 times and hit him 11. They finished up with 7 sacks, 13 hits, 5 tackles for loss and 4 takeaways. It was total destruction of an offense that had been so productive all year and this play, just 8 and a half minutes into the game, laid the foundation for the franchise’s third Lombardi trophy. It’s fitting really that it was made by the man who would walk away with the MVP honours and has done more than any other in 2016 to get another Super Bowl banner raised at Mile High.


Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL and MLB editor for RealSport. However I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site.

I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

NFL Play of the Week: Super Bowl week

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