How Victor Cruz Beat the Cowboys’ D
At Dallas News, I broke down Victor Cruz’s 70-yard touchdown:
Breaking Down the Victor Cruz Touchdown
With a first-and-10 at their own 30-yard line, the Giants rushed to the line-of-scrimmage in an effort to get off a play before the two-minute warning. The tactic seemed to catch the Cowboys by surprise. You can see that, just before the snap, there was quite a bit of confusion on defense as to what play they’d be running.
In a Gun Spread look, the Giants were able to snap the ball just before the two-minute warning with the majority of Dallas defenders unaware the play was even live.
The Cowboys had a zone blitz called with a quarters coverage behind it. It’s really not a “blitz” in the traditional sense since they initially rushed only four defenders—three down-linemen and Orlando Scandrick. You can see Scandrick near the bottom of the formation.
On the opposite side, DeMarcus Ware basically took Scandrick’s place by slipping into the flat. That’s why zone blitzes are typically safer than traditional blitzes with man coverage behind them; an atypical defender usually drops into coverage to take the place of a rusher, usually a defensive back. So on many zone blitzes, the defense is still rushing just four players.
The blitz didn’t work since the Cowboys weren’t really ready at the snap. Nonetheless, defensive tackle Nick Hayden slipped through to get initial pressure on Eli Manning.
It’s also worth noting that Sean Lee came after Manning as well, although he wasn’t supposed to be part of the blitz. Lee initially hesitated because he appeared to be in coverage, but took off for the quarterback when he saw running back David Wilson stay in to block.