Seahawks film room: Packers confused, Seahawks amused
ED Dickson's game-winner
The Seattle Seahawks (5-5) pulled out a 27-24 victory over Green Bay on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field with a 75-yard scoring drive that resulted in a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to tight end Ed Dickson with 5:08 remaining in the game.
The victory marked the first time this season that Wilson has pulled off a game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter after three prior failures.
The final play came about surprisingly easy thanks to some confusion in the Green Bay (4-5-1) secondary that resulted in Dickson being literally uncovered for the easy score. Here is a breakdown of that play, which helped keep Seattle's wild card playoff hopes alive.
A) Mass confusion
Seattle faces a third down with nine yards to go from the Green Bay 15 while trailing 24-20 in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks went with a shotgun formation with three receivers to the left and one to the right.
Right away the Packers appear to be confused. Slot defender Josh Jackson, who will align over Tyler Lockett, the No. 2 receiver to the right from Green Bay's perspective, calls for safety Ibraheim Campbell to play over the top of him, which appears to be wise given that there are three receivers to that side and right CB Tony Brown will be covering David Moore.
However, Jackson actually wants Campbell on his side so he can cover Lockett while Jackson blitzes. The problem then becomes, who has Dickson? LB Clay Matthews is the closest man to Dickson but will be rushing Wilson. Linebacker Blake Martinez begins on that side of the field but that doesn't last long.
Green Bay gets lined up but Williams appears to be concerned. Right up until the start of the play he attempts to communicate with Jackson and Campbell.
Martinez has jumped over to the other side of the formation and is threatening the B-Gap between right guard D.J. Fluker and right tackle Germain Ifedi. Green Bay has loaded up to its left with four defenders looking like they will be going after Wilson. Just two potential pass rushers exists on the opposite side with one being Matthews.
All would be fine for the Packers if Jackson remained man up on Lockett because that would leave Campbell free to cover Dickson. Or, Dickson could have been accounted for if the Packers were in zone coverage.
C) Wilson's presnap read
Prior to the snap, Jackson gives away that he is going after Wilson. That, and the fact that Campbell's eyes are trained on Lockett, tips Wilson to the probability that he is about to have Dickson running free down the middle.
At this point, the only defender who could prevent a touchdown from occurring is Matthews should he decide to trail Dickson in coverage. But he doesn't appear to have any interest in Dickson. Matthews instead wants to get after Wilson.
If Green Bay had been committed to sending all six after Wilson and Williams, the unseen safety, is prepared to jump on Dickson, then this strategy might work. But Wilson is on the opposite hash mark.
What's fascinating is that Campbell has not recognized that Jackson blitzing and nobody covering Dickson would be a bad idea.
D) Dickson runs free
At the snap it is clear right away that nobody has decided that Dickson is any kind of threat except Martinez, who after showing blitz immediately drops to his right as if take away anything in the hook to curl area on that side of the formation. Linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who was also showing blitz, drops off to the his right and to the middle of the field.
Both would be in perfect position had Dickson run a drag route. But he doesn't. He runs straight down the hash mark filling the obvious void in the coverage.
Jackson, as he tipped, blitzes off the edge leaving Campbell to cover Lockett. The right cornerback is covering Moore. Williams is covering nobody, but in theory is offering help over the top pf Baldwin, the lone receiver to the right of Seattle's formation.
E) Too easy
The only three players on the field that appear to know what's happening are Wilson, Dickson and Martinez, who right about now realizes that he won't get to Dickson in time.
Jackson blitzing left two defenders to cover three receivers on that side. Campbell, the closest defender to Dickson, is completely fixated on Lockett and has no idea that the former Oregon tight end Dickson is running free right down the hash mark.
Wilson takes a one-step drop and prepares to immediately fire the ball to Dickson, who had to read the coverage and decide whether or not to run vertical or a crossing route.
"The void was vertical so I took off vertical and Russ put a good ball right there," Dickson said. "By then, (the blitz) was too late. Russ put a hot ball out there and I got a catch for a touchdown.”
F) That moment when you realize you messed up
This is when every defender in coverage says or is thinking, "Oh, Bleep."
Martinez, of course, is late to the party and his efforts to jump and deflect the pass prove futile. Wilson's throw is on target, Dickson makes the reception, which at the very least will provide Seattle with a first and goal situation.
Notice Campbell finally figured out the problem and that Williams races over late. Also, right CB Brown, doing his job well, is so focused on Moore that he has no idea the ball has already been thrown and caught.
Dickson said being this open isn't always good.
“Those are the hardest ones. You watch it game in and game out, you’re wide open (and) you’ve got to concentrate on it and you’ve got to avoid coughing up the ball right there," he said. "You’ve got two tacklers coming in and trying to tackle you.
G) Look out!
Campbell and Williams still have a chance to prevent the touchdown but Dickson, at 250 pounds, is charging hard against two safeties that weigh 210 and 191 respectively.
This play was only made possible because both Wilson and Dickson read the same coverage, Dickson essentially ran a hot route, meaning that he looks for the ball right away, and Wilson got rid of the pass instantly.
"He did a tremendous job, Ed did, got his head around and the ball was coming his way, and he made a great catch and went in the end zone," Wilson said. "That’s pretty exciting.”
Dickson makes contact with the 191-pound Williams and it's no contest. Dickson barrels over him and into the end zone.
It's the second touchdown for Dickson on the season after missing the first six games with an injury.
"I’m glad I’m back," Dickson said. "It’s been a long time coming after sitting out six weeks and watching my team battle and just to be in it right now, we’re not where we want to be record-wise and everything like that but we’re fighting for a playoff berth. We take these games one game at a time and just keep battling.”
As expected, Williams was no match for Dickson, Campbell came in with a hit after Dickson had crossed the goal line. Touchdown, Seahawks.
Dickson was so wide open on the play, one must wonder if Green Bay simply ignored him.
“Oh, heck no," Dickson said. "I can’t sneak up on anybody in this league. They know what I’m capable of and I just worked all week to get my opportunities and it’s all about opportunities. As long as they throw me the ball or I made a block, I’m going to try to be a positive asset on the team, not a negative.”
J) Say my name
Dickson, who caught a touchdown pass at Detroit, was brought in mainly to be the accomplished blocking tight end that he has been during his nine-year career. But he can make plays in the passing game when called upon. His experience, Carroll said, allowed the play to succeed.
"I’m telling you that we practiced that a ton this week and it was beautiful, from a coaches perspective, to see something like that happen in such a crucial situation," Carroll said. "I think the experience of Ed was apparent there, because he had to see the exact same thing. He had to peek, too, and take advantage of the opp, and it was beautiful execution right there.”