Here’s the situation: It’s 3rd and 3 and your team needs a first down to keep the drive alive. You’re deep in your own territory and the defense has just given up a 36 yard touchdown. Now envision your star running back catch a pass and burst into the open field. You’re probably jumping off your couch, screaming “Go!” into your television. Then, within a matter of seconds you see that same running back you were only seconds ago cheering on, laying the ground, clutching the back of his leg with trainers all around him. You sit there, helpless. As a Detroit Lions fan you’ve seen this type of injury before. The kind where in just one second, the entire season is turned upside down.
Thankfully for the Lions, Reggie Bush was able to get up and walk to the sideline under his own power. Even better for the Lions is the news that Bush’s injury shouldn’t be long term. But what should worry the Lions — and fans — is the fact that when Bush went down, so did the entire offense.
The Lions offense was humming in the first half (14 points and 232 total yards), but the second half was a completely different story (0 points and 90 total yards).
Let’s take a look at the play where Bush got hurt and ultimately where the entire game changed.
The Lions line up in a four receiver set with Bush in the slot. The Cardinals come out in a Cover-2 man defense with the safeties playing deep and everyone lining up in man coverage. This leaves Reggie Bush one-on-one with Cardinals safety Yeremiah Bell.
The Lions run two clear out routes with Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson on the wide part of the field, with Calvin Johnson running a vertical route. This is all orchestrated to get Reggie Bush mismatched on a safety and open up the middle of the field.
Bush runs a great route. So much so that Bell is left nearly a yard behind Bush after his cut. This is why Bush is such a valuable weapon in the Lions offense. The safeties cheat toward Johnson’s side of the field, and Bush makes them pay for leaving the middle of the field so open.
I’m not sure there’s another receiver — minus Johnson — let alone another running back on this team who could win that one-on-one matchup like Bush does against Bell. It was a huge play in the game, not only because the Lions kept the chains moving on third down, but because it symbolized the type of importance that Bush means to this team.
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