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Anatomy of a Play

Anatomy of a Play: Clutch goal-line stop

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Giants.com's John Schmeelk takes a frame-by-frame look at a key play from Sunday's game:

The Situation: The Browns trail 7-0 but have gotten the ball down to the Giants two-yard line. After consecutive runs for two yards apiece on first and second down, the Browns are in a third-and-goal. There is 1:53 to go in the second quarter.

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The Formation

The Browns come out with the rarely seen 13 personnel: one running back, one wide receiver and three tight ends. Gary Barnidge, Randall Telfer and Seth DeValve are all lined up off right tackle, putting 10 men at the line of scrimmage, including quarterback Josh McCown and running back Duke Johnson. Only Corey Coleman is split out wide at the top of the screen, covered by Janoris Jenkins.

The Giants match that by putting 10 men in the box themselves. They have three defensive tackles (Johnathan Hankins, Damon Harrison and Robert Thomas) with their hands down along with Romeo Okwara. Olivier Vernon is standing up next to Okwara near left tackle Joe Thomas. Four linebackers (Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, Kelvin Shepard and Devon Kennard) join the linemen in the box along with safety Landon Collins. This is when the Browns try something tricky.

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The Motion

The Browns send all three tight ends to the left side of the formation spread out wide. Corey Coleman switches sides to the right of the formation and goes in the slot while Duke Johnson lines up outside on the same side. Jenkins does not follow Coleman, instead staying to the tight end side where he is joined by Vernon and Casillas in coverage. The Browns have successfully put Vernon in a position he is not comfortable in.

On the right side of the formation, Landon Collins has split out wide to cover Johnson, while Devon Kennard is lined up over Coleman in the slot. The Browns have another matchup they should like on that side of the field. One other thing to note on this shot is Landon Collins waving over to Kelvin Sheppard, indicating he should come over and help with coverage on that side of the field. That adjustment will end up being key to the stop.

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The Play

The Browns run rub routes on both side of the field. At the top of the screen on the left side of the formation, Randall Telfer runs an out while Gary Barnidge runs underneath him. Jenkins get shielded and can't follow Barnidge underneath. This is the only instance in this play where anyone is close to being open. Even with Barnidge somewhat open there is no guarantee he catches and scores here because Jonathan Casillas is in proper position and is near the area Barnidge would receive the pass. Herzlich, meanwhile, along with Casillas, is watching Seth DeValve.

Of course, nothing that happens to the left of the formation matters much because Josh McCown is trying to go to Duke Johnson or Corey Coleman. The Giants execute their defense here extremely well. Collins holds his ground and picks up Coleman who was in the slot and is moving towards the outside. Kennard is facing Johnson who is cutting in towards the quarterback. Kelvin Sheppard slid over as Landon Collins directed, and will soon prove to be the reason this play didn't work.

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The Coverage

At the bottom of the screen, Johnson got inside of Kennard, but that was the plan since Sheppard was there waiting for him. Collins is on Coleman with no room to make a play. To the left side of the play, there is no one open (even though McCown never looks in that direction). There is nowhere for McCown to throw the ball, and he is already starting to scramble hoping to make something happen in a broken play situation. Given the lack of pass rush here he would have been better off staying in the pocket and trying to read the other side of the field.

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The Scramble

McCown is being pursued by Robert Thomas and Damon Harrison while looking for a receiver. Coleman is double covered near the pylon with no room for a throw. Duke Johnson has created a little bit of separation on Sheppard but not enough to convince McCown to throw the ball. He doesn't want to risk a turnover and sacrifice three points. The three tight ends at the top of the screen have not gotten over to the right half of the field to be a factor in the play.

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The Throwaway

McCown never finds anyone open (he chooses not to force the ball to a well-covered Duke Johnson) and on his way out of bounds he simply throws the ball away, settling for a field goal. The Giants still lead 7-3 thanks to an excellent red zone defensive stand thanks to good communication and execution, which has been a symbol of their defensive success all year.

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