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Anatomy of a Play: Giants force Elliott backwards

Posted Sep 11, 2017

Giants.com's John Schmeelk breaks down a nice defensive stop against the Cowboys: 


Despite a rough start to their season Sunday night in Dallas, the defense did come up with some nice plays. We’ll look at a run by Ezekiel Elliott that turned into a seven yard loss thanks to the play of two of the Giants dominant defensive linemen.


THE FORMATION
The Cowboys come out here with their 11 personnel package with a wrinkle. Dez Bryant is in the slot with Cole Beasley outside at the top of the screen. Jason Witten is on the line next to left tackle Tyron Smith with Terrance Williams lined up tight off of Witten.

The Giants match with their nickel personnel with B.J. Goodson and Jonathan Casillas at linebacker and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the slot.


THE HANDOFF
Ezekiel Elliott is taking the ball from Dak Prescott and the designed play is already blown up thanks to Damon “Snacks” Harrison. He has beaten All-Pro center Travis Frederick and is past him and headed right for Elliott. This run looks like it was designed to go between the right guard and right tackle and Harrison’s penetration has eliminated that option. Harrison’s penetration is so important here since the Cowboys have a hat on a hat on everyone else near the line of scrimmage. Without it, this would have likely been a successful run.


THE BOUNCE
Now you see Elliott running for his life from Snacks and bouncing the play outside. He is someone capable of getting out of Harrison’s grasp and keeping the play alive. Cowboys blockers are sealing Giants defenders to the outside to open the inside running lane. When Harrison forces Elliott outside, it negates these blocks and frees up defenders to run towards the ball. Jason Pierre-Paul is in perfect position to clean up the play that Harrison started.


THE PURSUIT
You see how quickly a play can go from an offense having a hat on a hat at the line scrimmage to it turning into a complete jailbreak. By forcing Elliott outside, JPP is freed up and in striking distance. Meanwhile, B.J. Goodson, Jonathan Casillas, Dalvin Tomlinson and Landon Collins are also crashing down unblocked. Elliott has no chance.


THE TACKLE
Jason Pierre-Paul wraps up Elliott and is able to drop him for a seven-yard loss. The Cowboys have to settle for a field goal. Pierre-Paul might have gotten credit for the tackle, but Snacks Harrison made the play.