In the second quarter, the Broncos were up 7-13 and were on their own 40 yard line. A normally stout defense against the run, the Panthers gave up a 34 yard run on an outside zone run to the right by C.J. Anderson.
Situation: 2nd and 10 at DEN 40
Description: (6:19 2nd) C.Anderson right guard pushed ob at CAR 26 for 34 yards (C.Finnegan)
The Broncos run an outside zone run to the right with Anderson in singleback formation.
Anderson gets the snap and reads the right tackle and the tight end. Seeing #95 Charles Johnson wrap around the edge and do a good job of pushing #81 Owen Daniels back into the running lane, he wisely turns towards the middle of the formation aiming for the A-gaps.
Anderson is level between the two guards and has a 2-3 yard cushion between himself and the center. He dodges the leg grasp by defensive tackle #99 Kawann Short and cuts through the gap to the left of the center (weakside A-gap).
Pay close attention to #69 Evan Mathis‘ excellent reach block on #98 Star Lotulelei. He seals him out of the play and creates the hole for him to burst through. Kuechly dives at Anderson from behind which Anderson slips, and then Anderson is off into the secondary.
Anderson sees slot cornerback #26 Cortland Finnegan angling his pursuit at him from his right, so he runs backside. Tre Boston attempts to bring down the running back, but he can’t get a proper hold. Vernon Davis, who was split out wide left (more on him later) helped seal the running path for him to escape to the sideline for the 34 yard gain.
Need the High Camera Angle…
When a running back is able to burst past the linebackers, you have to see what happened in the secondary that allowed him to gain the extra yards between the two levels. I drew out the play to show the Panthers’ coverage.
As you can see from the diagram above, the Panthers are in Cover 1 Man with a single-high safety, while cornerbacks #27 Robert McClain, #24 Josh Norman, and #26 Cortland Finnegan are in man-to-man coverage on their respective receivers. Like I said before the outside zone run was to the right, but since Anderson cut back to his left after breaking into the secondary the block by #80 Vernon Davis (boxed in yellow) is especially important.
Watching this play over-and-over again, this is simply an incredible block by Davis 20 yards down the field. He boxes out McClain perfectly not allowing him back in the play after the deep safety misses his tackle. McClain’s role is the force on the edge, so he wants to contain him to the middle of the field.
Watch Luke Kuechly closely right before the snap. He hops at the exact wrong moment which puts him 0.5 seconds behind the rest of the play. Since he’s late, he has to overpursue to the strongside A-gap to make up for being late. This is the reason why he misses the tackle actually. His momentum is completely off, so he is then late to get off the block by center #61 Matt Paradis. This allows Anderson to have an easier time (than usual) of shaking his tackle.
The next missed tackle is by #33 Tre Boston who slides down Anderson’s frame after Anderson lowers his shoulder to absorb the hit. The running back does an excellent job of shedding the tackle. It’s possible that Boston could have taken a slightly less aggressive angle which would have given him a more square shot at Anderson.
The final attempt is by #26 Cortland Finnegan which isn’t as much of a missed tackle, but I wanted to highlight the stiff arm by Anderson to finish the play.
Overall, the Panthers only allowed a 3.2 ypc average during this game, which is fantastic considering that the Broncos ran the ball 28 times. Anderson ended the game with all 90 of the Broncos’ rushing yards as Ronnie Hillman broke even on five attempts.
Follow Samuel Gold on Twitter: @SamuelRGold.