Breakdown Of The Long Touchdown By Demaryius Thomas Against The Steelers

The 71 yard touchdown by Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas against the Pittsburgh Steelers was a huge turning point in the game and it started with an excellent hot read by quarterback Peyton Manning, who saw linebacker Chris Carter coming on the blitz. Safety Troy Polamalu admitted after the game that he made a bad decision on the play as he chose to go underneath tackle Ryan Clady instead of going over the top of him.

“I just under-pursued,” said Polamalu after the game. “I came under the block instead of going over the block. so, I made a mistake.”

Below is a breakdown of the play.

Thomas Broncos TD 1

For starters, Chris Carter is already sucked in as he was coming on the blitz and fell victim to the run fake. and in no position to be in the passing lane. You can also see the first step of Troy Polamalu be towards the line of scrimmage. Ike Taylor provided a 10 yard cushion to Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas TD Steelers 2

Taylor is still 10 yards off of Thomas as tight end Jacob Tamme starts his direction to seal him off. Tackle Ryan Clady has released in the direction of Polamalu with left guard Zane Beadles following to head out towards safety Ryan Mundy.

Thomas TD Steelers Broncos 3

Taylor is still 7 yards away from Thomas here as Tamme has him squared up now. Polamalu at this point has committed to go underneath Clady as opposed to going over the top of him and this was a crucial bad decision as the lane on the numbers is about to open wide for Thomas.

Thomas TD Denver Versus Steelers 4

Polamalu is now behind Clady as Thomas has already started up the field. Taylor has yet to even take on Tamme, who is now in perfect position.

Troy Thomas TD Denver Steelers

Here is the other angle of the Polamalu decision to go underneath Clady.

Thomas TD Pass Broncos Steelers

Tamme now has Taylor engaged and Clady has effectively impeded Polamalu enough, thanks to the decision by the safety to attack underneath. All that is left now is for Beadles to run interference on Mundy.

Thomas TD Pass Steelers Broncos 6

Mundy is out of position to make a play with Beadles closing in on him.

Thomas TD Steelers Broncos hold Mundy

While Mundy has somewhat managed to stay ahead, he is no position to make the tackle and it does not help that Beadles has a firm grasp on him, which likely should have been called. Thomas now has nothing but open field ahead of him for the touchdown.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Pete

    You can get burned in press coverage too. This was simply the Broncos executing better than the Steelers. You can sum the whole game up as the Steelers giving up a game changing play on both offense and defense.

    Otherwise, the Steelers didn’t play too badly and had ample chances to win. They just failed to execute when they needed to and the Broncos pulled it out when they needed the big play.

  • SoCal-Steel

    I fault the scheme here as we repeatedly allowed 10 yard cushions. Allowing such cushions allows for any NFL qb to pick us apart. I know this was the great Peyton Manning but we also allowed the same to Alex Smith in the 49er game last year. Where was the “big dime” that we heard so much about in the preseason? Peyton certainly didn’t have to do a lot of reading the defense as we made it quite easy. His reads ended up being quite simple…. If we play off then thrown underneath, if we press then check down to a draw play. I love LeBeau, but I hate the softy defense.

  • callouswhisper

    Sure you can but given Lewis & Allen are built for physical press coverage, it allows pass rush time to actually get to Manning and soft coverage was not working, what did they have to lose? In 2011 game v Pats Lebeau finally allowed his Dbs to press and D played its best game of the season.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Apparently you didnt see the Bronco’s doing pick plays on us for big gains when we pressed.

  • SoCal-Steel

    Fully conur!!!

  • callouswhisper

    Really? What big gains would they be? I saw one pick play on Cortez Allen when he had coverage on Tamme. The pick was illegal btw but of course not called much. Outside of that I didnt see many pick plays. I saw cushions and lots of them. Manning’s best throw of the night, a back shoulder to Thomas came because Ike was in soft coverage. For a good Qb an easy thrown to back shoulder with Ike 2 steps ahead of Thomas, precisely because he wasnt in press.

  • Doopaloop

    Did anyone see Polomalu twisting Demaryius Thomas arm on that one tackle? Haha too bad that little dude got man handled.