Chris Johnson is absolutely the player of the week for the Tennessee Titans, ripping off touchdown runs of 16 and 83 yards. He looked impressive all game, carving up the woeful Bills defense for 195 yards on 18 carries, a whopping 10.8 YPC. With that being said, savvy veteran Matt Hasselbeck once again made the play of the week, delivering a crucial play in the final minute of the game.
Last week we broke down Hasselbeck’s 25-yard pass to Cook in the 4th quarter against the Steelers. Hasselbeck showed poise and anticipation, reading the mismatch and finding Cook for a big gain. This week against the Bills, Hasselbeck finds himself in a similar situation with the game on the line.
Jason McCourty has just made a crucial interception on a 3rd & 7 pass from Fitzpatrick, giving the Titans the ball at midfield. Driving into the red zone, the offense stalls on a critical 3rd down. With 4th & 9 at the Bills 15-yard line and 1:08 to play, the odds are stacked against us.
The Titans are lined up with three wide receivers: Kendall Wright (bottom), Nate Washington (slot, above Wright), and Kenny Britt (top). Jared Cook is lined up to the right as well, with Chris Johnson in the backfield. It’s an obvious passing situation, and the Titans overload the right side of the formation to increase their chances.
The Bills are playing a Cover 2 defense, with man coverage on the receivers. The two safeties are playing right on the goal line, each responsible for his half of the end zone.
The Cover 2 defense is intended to prevent downfield completions behind the cornerbacks, but it can also be susceptible to big gains over the middle. With three receiving options on the right side of the formation, Hasselbeck will look to exploit this side of the field.
Britt draws the Bills free safety on the left side, leaving the strong safety to help on the other three options. Both Wright and Washington run routes straight down the field.
Cook runs a post route over the middle, forcing the strong safety to choose between covering him to the inside or Washington/Wright to the outside. Hasselbeck knows that the safety can only help to one side.
Unfortunately for the Bills, the strong safety gets stuck in limbo, neither committing to Cook nor Washington. Hasselbeck throws a beautiful back-shoulder pass over the cornerback and behind the safety. Washington makes a nice catch in the back of the end zone, putting the Titans up 35-34 with a minute left.
Hasselbeck comes through in the clutch two weeks in a row, proving that he still has plenty left in the tank. At this point in the season, it’s fair to question whether or not the Titans should immediately start Locker once he’s recovered. Locker needs the experience and has played well when healthy, but Hasselbeck is making the necessary plays to win. Coach Munchak is probably torn between the two at this point, but choosing between two good quarterbacks is never a bad dilemma.
To watch the full video visit: http://www.nfl.com/videos/tennessee-titans/0ap2000000083727/QB-Hasselbeck-to-WR-Washington-15-yd-pass-TD-4th-down-conversion
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