One of the biggest plays of the day for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in their win over the Tennessee Titans was the 49-yard catch and run by Frank Gore out of a trick play.
Here’s the play, in case you forgot:
So what happened? Let’s walk through it, with a bit of help from quarterback Andrew Luck.
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you, and it wasn’t how we drew it up,” Luck said when asked about the design of the play after the game. “[It] was supposed to obviously go deep to T.Y. [Hilton] and the second outlet was Donte [Moncrief]. Frank [Gore] has I think an uncanny ability to play football and react to things the right way and he just reacted well and somehow my eyes found him. I was sort of looking to throw it away honestly and he just happened to be there and did a great job.”
The Colts started out in the wildcat formation, something we saw them first pull out for a play against the Packers. Frank Gore lines up in the backfield to receive the direct snap, and they did it once against Green Bay and then twice early on against Tennessee, including earlier on this very drive.
Upon receiving the snap, however, Gore didn’t run the ball but instead pitched it to quarterback Andrew Luck, who was lined up to the left of the formation and then started to come around as the ball was snapped. Was offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski all along setting up this trick play with the other direct snaps? Perhaps.
When Luck got the ball, T.Y. Hilton was already going deep and Donte Moncrief was going on a shallow crossing route. According to Luck, Hilton was the first read and then Moncrief was the second. Moncrief was clearly covered and there was absolutely no play there, while it looks like Luck probably could have gotten the ball to Hilton had he tried (and made a good throw).
Luck didn’t pull the trigger and fire to Hilton, however, at which point Frank Gore made an adjustment. It seems according to Luck’s comments that Gore’s route was a result of him reacting to the play, and it does look that way on tape too. Gore was standing around in the backfield for a few moments before then breaking out in the flat to give Luck an outlet. This picture was from just a second or two before he headed out to the flat.
After a while (and with plenty of time), Luck indicated that he was getting ready to throw the football away when he saw Gore. His running back had slipped out of the backfield completely unnoticed and was wide open in the flat, and all Luck had to do was see him and get the ball to him. This picture was with the ball in the air, and you can see that there’s nothing but open field in front of Gore.
And with that, he was off. Gore took the football 49 yards before finally being shoved out of bounds at the Titans five yard line, and two plays later Luck hit Donte Moncrief for a two-yard score to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The 49-yard gain was the second-longest reception of the veteran running back’s career, and it was a combination of a great setup/playcall and a great job by Gore reacting to the play and getting open in the flat. Then, all Luck had to do was see him, which he said he did when he was just getting ready to throw the ball away. Thankfully he didn’t do that, as instead he found Frank Gore for what would prove to be a big gain and an exciting play.