How Joe Lombardi hit his stride against Bears

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My Personal Favorite

I’d be lying if I told you this wasn’t my favorite play of the game.  Yes, Johnson’s 1st TD was ridiculous, and there were several nice play calls I’ve been illustrating along the way.  But this one?  This is the kind of genius I’ve been waiting for.  It was a very small play, but I just LOVED the play design here.

After a Joique Bell TD was taken back due to penalty, the Lions needed to get back to the goal line in a hurry.  You might have caught the trend on several of these plays of the Bears blitzing?  Joe Lombardi noticed, too.

The Bears, having been just destroyed on the previous TD (See previous), decided to play it safe on this one and drop everybody.  If they had called a blitz, as they had throughout the game thus far, this would have been the perfect play.  Theo Riddick was the tail back and ran what appeared to be a basic underneath route, either a flat or short curl.

This route from the backfield is a staple in Lombardi’s playbook, and Riddick himself has run it several dozen times.  Instead, Riddick sliced back between his blockers on a screen.

Sampled from NFL Game Rewind

When he gets the ball in his hands, Riddick is at the 19 yard line.  The nearest defender with any chance of stopping him is more than 10 yards away, with two blockers leading the way.  Sims takes out one defender, Raiola takes out another, and Riddick seemed destined to reach the end zone.

Sampled from NFL Game Rewind

Or he could be face planted by a Bears linebacker.  Surprisingly, Riddick survived this play.  It wasn’t a TD, but it got the Lions right to the goal line, and was so darn close.  The beauty of this play is that even though it was called due to the Bears tendency to blitz in long to go situations, it was set up to succeed against deeper coverage as well, which is what the Bears ultimately ran.

Too often, I’d gotten used to seeing Joe Lombardi call plays that might have only worked in one situation, trying to be too smart.  This play was smart because there’s only a few ways it could have been defended at all.

Next: So close