In light of Flacco’s accomplishments this postseason (tying Kurt Warner and Joe Montana for the most postseason TDs ever, tying joe Montana for the most TDs without an interception, Super Bowl MVP) Dan and I have decided to go back and review each of Flacco’s touchdown throws in the playoffs.
We are going to go game-by-game, so this week I bring you the Colts game. Two touchdowns for Joe in this one, his lowest total in any playoff game this year, but there is some good stuff here. Joe shows some mobility in the first play (which we see even more of as the playoffs advance), and in the second play shows that he has the power and accuracy to put the ball up right where his man can make a play on it in the endzone. So here we go.
Postseason TD #1
Situation: 8:33 Q3, 2nd and 15 on Indy 20
The Colts defense is in quarters (four deep zones with the cornerbacks aligned deep in outside technique). Though Dennis Pitta (route marked in red) is eventually on the receiving end of this touchdown throw, it appears that Flacco’s primary target is Boldin (in the slot to Pitta’s left). Boldin is hoping to find a gap in the middle of the defense, in between the safeties and linebackers, in order to pick up a good portion of the yards needed for a first down.
However, LT Bryant McKinnie gets schooled by Dwight Freeney’s spin move, forcing Flacco to move outside of the pocket and throw underneath to Pitta just before Freeney can wrap Joe’s ankles.
Here is the situation from another angle. With LT McKinnie out of the play and DE Freeney bearing down, Joe drifts to his right, looks, and sees Pitta, who is in the middle of a huge hole in the zone. He throws the ball to him and Pitta cuts upfield for the touchdown (with a little upfield blocking from Torrey Smith, top right corner).
Postseason TD #2
Situation: 9:44 Q4, 2nd and 10 on Indy 18
The Ravens line up in their spread look with TE Dennis Pitta split close on the strong side of the formation and Torrey Smith alone on the left side of the formation. Boldin (route in red) runs a slant-and-go.
The Colts only rush four, leaving seven in the defense (the five shown, plus two safeties) to cover four receivers. So how do the Ravens throw a touchdown with a nearly 2-1 disadvantage? The defense breaks down in two places. First, the inside linebackers (numbers 2 and 3) drop into shallow zones that end up being occupied by no one. In the next shot, you can see them standing around with no one near them. Secondly, Pitta, circled in read, flies up the seam and will end up occupying both safeties, leaving Boldin in single coverage in the endzone.
There are three things worth noting in this slide. First the linebackers circled in orange. Pitta has already blown past the MIKE, and since Rice stays home to block, the WILL is not covering anyone either. Now, instead of 7 on 4, the defense is playing 5 on 4. Besides Pitta, three receivers now have one-on-one matchups…
…including Boldin. As you can see, Boldin has gotten behind his man will follow the red arrow to the corner of the endzone, where Joe puts the ball for Boldin to make a play.
Finally, notice the safeties at the top of the screen. The SS is playing man on Pitta while the FS keys on him coming up the seam. No one is around to cover Boldin over the top.
Joe puts the ball where Boldin can make a play on it, and the corner never has a chance against a receiver as physical as Boldin. Touchdown.