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Breaking Down The Long Touchdown Run By Darren McFadden Against The Steelers


Last week I talked extensively about the zone blocking scheme that Oakland Raiders now use and how the defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers hadn\’t defended it well as of late.

One of my biggest fears headed into this game was that the defense would have problem against this scheme and that Raiders running back Darren McFadden would bust a homerun as a result. Unfortunately that happened Sunday as McFadden took one 64 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the Raiders second offensive possession.

While inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons did not have a good game, he was not at fault for the long run as you can see in the animated gif of the play below.

As the play clearly illustrates, the left side of the Steelers defensive line, from Casey Hampton on over, does their job at staying square and moving down the line. The run blitz by Timmons is deliberate around the Raiders left tackle, which tells me he followed his assignment on the play to fill in-line as backside support on the play along with outside linebacker Chris Carter. Just watch him cheat his assignment. The breakdown here on this play up front is by right defensive end Brett Keisel, who has to get to the “A” gap on the play and prevent himself from getting cut off. Once the Raiders right guard feels he has him cut off, he turns and blocks back, which in turn opens up a gaping hole. Now it is a tough play for Keisel to make for sure, but the defense on this play revolves around McFadden being forced to cut back behind the left tackle.

Once McFadden is in the second level, it is obvious that safety Ryan Mundy misses the open field tackle. He is the inside run support to defend against the homerun on this play should McFadden break through a lane. Cornerback Ike Taylor is blocked out by the wide receiver and McFadden is off to the races for the score.

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About Dave Bryan

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

    Timmons and Foote BOTH played that horribly. Just bad on every level.

  • RW

    Mundy looked terrible. Just thinking out loud here, but when Polamalu is out, why not shift Clark over to SS and let Ike play FS? Ike will need to make the transition to safety eventually if he wants to prolong his career, and while some may argue that Clark is strictly a FS, his ability to punish ball carriers makes him a candidate to play down in the box as a SS. Understandably assignments are different and they will take time to learn, perhaps some practice time each week can be carved out for this type of contingency plan. I would feel much more comfortable with that – Allen could take over for Taylor – the only concern is the nickel position, but I’m willing to give Curtis Brown a shot. Any thoughts?

    Also – let Kiesel come in as the spell DE. Cam Heyward always seems to play well when he gets an opportunity, and I think he’s the best DE on the team. Time for him to get in there. While we’re on the subject, Hampton should only be playing on obvious running downs outside of him being trapped on the field during no huddle situations. He’s in the last year of his contract anyway, and we’ll need to move into next season without any mysteries at NT.

  • joewalsh

    Fat casey is being single blocked off the field almost, he’s useless. Mundy is just plan horrible. and Foote was going who knows where on that play.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I think you have good idea’s. You seem to have good insight. I too believe Heyward should at least take time away from Hood, McLendon should be in more often, the moving people around thing in the secondary would take a preseason but I would not hate the idea. I believe Polo is basically done…just living off his rep for now.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Timmons has never impressed me…always thought he was athletic(which I no longer see) but he always seems lost. Makes no splash plays…doesnt get any tackles behind the line…cant cover worth a darn…not sure what he does well except cash a big check!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcus.gastmann Marcus Gastmann

    After watching it again and again : Its either Foote or Timmons. My guess is Timmons, becaus Foote frantically tries to get into his C-Gap, that looks designed.
    Maybe Lawrence saw something, or it was a very risky call. They did send 2 guys over the “left” C-Gap, and thats usually a sigh that another gap is open.

  • Pete

    Nice analysis of the play. I think the defense is not the same without Troy and James. Also, I don’t believe they have an adequate replacement for Smith who was key in run support.

    The Steelers dropped from 1st against the run in 2010 and 3rd in 2009 to 8th overall in 2011. Last year signaled the beginning of a real decline in the run defense. Only 3 games into the 2012 regular season, the Steelers stand at 15th against the run. Teams can now run against the Steelers in ways they never dreamed of during the last decade. Unless they shore up the run defense Ben and co will have to score lots of points each game to have a chance of winning.

    Clarke admitted they couldn’t stop the run at all during the game and once the Raiders established the run early, Palmer was able to do whatever he wanted.

  • PA2AK

    Only way to stop the zone is penetration. hampton sits. ziggy sits. Timmons usually flies 10 yards into the backfield hoping for a weak arm tackle. If JH & TP being out that detrimental to the defense…what has the font office been doing for the past 4 years?! when was the last time either of them got a full 14 games in the 16-game season? The writing is on the wall. Get back-ups or replacements before it is too late…oops, too late. When Larry Foote is looking like the most consistent LB on the field…you’re fooked!

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    THAT WAS A SIMPLE TRAP..NOT A STRETCH TO THE OUTSIDE. NO WAY IS KEISEL RESPONSIBLE..THATS ON TIMMONS AND FOOTE WHO WENT TO THE C GAP TAKEING HIS SELF OUT THE PLAY COMPLETELY. AND WHY DID MUNDY TAKE SO LONG TO COME UP? THAT PLAY HAD RUN WRITTEN ALL OVER IT FROM THE SNAP. THEN HE WIFS ON THE TACKLE

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    IN MY OPION..STEELERS NEED A REPLACEMENT FOR ZIGGY HOOD ON PASS PACKAGES. HE’S REALLY NOT A DE..HE’S A DT RUN STOPPER. THIS LINE HASNT BEEN RIGHT SINCE ARON SMITH LEFT..THATS WHY WOODLEY CANT GET HIS SACK NUMBERS..BETTER YET..STOP THAT 3-4 GARBAGE YOU DONT HAVE THE PERSONNEL FOR IT ANY MORE! 4-3 OR THAT BIG NICKLE 4-2-5

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