Pittsburgh Steelers rookie undrafted defensive back Robert Golden played a lot of snaps Sunday in the 27-24 loss Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys, but the one snap that he played safety in the game is one that he is sure not to forget for a while.
The play I am talking about is the 17 yard touchdown pass from Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to tight end Jason Witten on 1st and 10 with 11:02 left to go in the first half. Below are two animated gifs of the play from the All-22 tape so you can see what happened.
The Steelers technically were in their Big Nickel package on this play in cover-3 with zone underneath. The two outside corners, Keenan Lewis and Josh Victorian are responsible for playing over the top on the outside in their third section of the field. Golden has over the top coverage in the middle third of the field, while Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Lawrence Timmons all have underneath coverage in their thirds of the field. The Cowboys have their 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR) on the field for this play.
Remember that it is 1st and 10 so the defense has to respect the run here first and foremost despite the three wide receiver personnel grouping. While it is hard to tell, I am pretty sure that Romo checks out of his originally play at the line of scrimmage once he sees cover-3 with Polamalu on the weak-side of the formation. Although the animations don\’t show it, Romo is very vocal pre snap. We might never know if he did check to this play, but it really doesn\’t matter.
At the snap Witten runs right at Clark and sells as if he might be run blocking for a run to that side. The play action fake carried out by Romo to running back DeMarco Murray is a damn good one, as not only he does he have both Clark and Timmons moving forward with it, but Golden as well. Witten runs right down the seem and past Golden for the easy score.
Golden is the main culprit here for allowing himself to bite too hard on the play action. Both Clark and Timmons also share some responsibility, but the play action fake was so good, as was the fake by Witten, that they had to respect it. I am sure that Golden learned a pretty good lesson on this play at the cost of 7 points. I warned about Witten down the seem in my weekly pregame keys to the game.