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Anatomy of a Play

Anatomy of a Play: DRC secures "W" with pick

3-122016.jpg's John Schmeelk takes a frame-by-frame look at a key play from Sunday:

The Giants' defense stepped up once again on Sunday against the Lions, keeping them out of the end zone and holding them to only six points. The run defense continued to be solid, while the secondary played well despite losing Janoris Jenkins in the first half due to a back injury.

Looking to close out the game with 2:09 remaining, the defense stepped up one more time to give the Giants their second takeaway of the game in the end zone. It is third-and-10 at the 17-yard line.


The Formation: The Lions come out in their 11 personnel group with three wide receivers lined up on the wide side of the field. Golden Tate is inside, with Anquan Boldin the middle receiver, and Marvin Jones inside. Running back Dwayne Washington is next to Matthew Stafford in the shotgun, with Eric Ebron lined up off right tackle.

The Giants answer with nickel personnel. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the boundary corner near Jones, while Trevin Wade lines up over Boldin. Tate is uncovered here. Eli Apple remains on the other side of the field near Ebron, along with Landon Collins. Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson are the linebackers. Andrew Adams is the deep safety in the middle of the field.

Early in this play, only two corners over three Lions receivers indicates it is probably a zone defense. There is also a size mismatch with Anquan Boldin (6-1) being lined up across from Trevin Wade (5-10).


The Snap: At the snap, Stafford immediately looks to his left, trying to target the overloaded side of the field. Wade does a nice job jamming Boldin off the snap up until the 5-yard mark, preventing a free release. Casillas come over to jam Tate coming out of the slot. Ebron is about to slide across the field on a shallow cross towards the flooded side of the field, which the Giants would be happy to allow given the down, distance, and time remaining.

At the top of the screen, Rodgers-Cromartie is dropping towards the end zone in a deep zone (Adams and Apple are doing likewise in the middle and bottom of the screen). The most important thing to note here is where DRC's eyes are. He isn't even looking at or playing Marvin Jones here. He is staring daggers at Matthew Stafford, trying to read his eyes. He was beat a couple times earlier in the game doing this, but in this instance the result will be very different.


Stafford has started his throw in this picture and probably feels pretty good about what he sees. Golden Tate's crossing route has held Adams and Casillas in the middle of the field. He sees Wade has not yet turned his hips, and Boldin has already crossed past his shoulders. With Boldin's size advantage, there should be a decent window to get the ball over Wade's head and to Boldin for a touchdown.

What Stafford doesn't see is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC is still staring at Stafford and is already beginning his move towards Boldin to help out Wade. His film work and preparation tells him Boldin is the target here and it is about to pay off.


The ball is hard to see in this shot, but it is only feet away from Rodgers-Cromartie. He used his speed to beat Boldin to the spot and get between him and the football. He leaves his feet to high-point the ball and come down with the interception.  Boldin, surprised to see DRC in the play, can't do anything to stop him from catching the ball. He is behind DRC making a futile leap for the ball himself. If DRC doesn't come over on this play, you are looking at a potential touchdown. The Lions could have then tried an onside kick with two minutes still remaining on the clock.


DRC runs all the way across the end zone looking for a potential deep run back but decides the best course of action is to simply get out of bounds. It seals the Giants win.

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