BEARS ON OFFENSE
2nd-and-goal from the Kansas City 2-yard line. Before the Bears break the huddle, the officials announce that No. 78, offensive lineman John St. Clair, is an eligible receiver. The Bears line up in their goal line formation. TE John Gilmore is on the left side of the line, with TE Desmond Clark behind him in the wing. FB Jason McKie and RB Cedric Benson are lined up in the I-formation behind QB Rex Grossman. St. Clair is stationed on the right side of the line in the tight end position. Before the snap of the ball, Clark motions into the backfield next to McKie.
At the snap, McKie and Clark lead block into the hole just to the left of C Olin Kreutz. RG Ruben Brown pulls left as Grossman fakes a handoff to Benson, who's following the blockers. The play fake, as well as the actions of the lead blockers and linemen, freezes the Chiefs' secondary. K.C.'s linebackers all rush the gap where Benson is headed, but he doesn't have the ball. Rex does. At the same time, St. Clair holds a one-second block on the defensive end before releasing into the right flat. Grossman hits St. Clair with an easy touch pass, and the big man rumbles into the end zone giving the Bears a 7-0 lead.
This play doesn't work if not for the power running of Benson. He had rushed 8 times for 41 yards on that drive, delivering punishing blows to each Kansas City tackler. By shifting Clark into the backfield, the Bears were basically telling the defense, "We're running it up the gut, so try and stop us." The Chiefs responded by flooding the supposed point of attack, where they thought Benson would be running. By focusing all of their energy on the tailback, they failed to notice the massive tight end plodding into the flat. It was an easy touchdown pass for Grossman, capping a 15-play, 79-yard drive.
OT John St. Clair (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
BEARS ON DEFENSE
3rd-and-1 on the Bears' 16-yard line. The Chiefs line up in a three-receiver set, with the slot receiver on the left side and the tight end on the right. RB Larry Johnson is alone in the backfield behind QB Damon Huard. Before the play, K.C. motions the tight end across the field until he is just inside the slot receiver. The Bears are in their nickel package, with CB Ricky Manning Jr. covering the slot receiver. SS Adam Archuleta is stationed just to the left of LBs Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. The man in motion causes both linebackers and Archuleta to shift right, leaving CB Charles Tillman all alone in one-on-one coverage with Kansas City WR Samie Parker.
At the snap, Parker releases down the field past Tillman's outside shoulder. Huard takes a three-step drop and lobs a fade pass in Parker's direction. The ball floats into the end zone and looks to be a touchdown, as Parker has a step on Tillman. But Tillman recovers at the last second, dives and gets a hand on the ball. He tips it up in the air and into the waiting hands of FS Danieal Manning. Manning catches the ball and runs it out of the end zone to the 30-yard line.
This play shows just how important the cornerbacks are in Lovie Smith's Cover-2 defense and why GM Jerry Angelo was willing to shell out big money this offseason for both of his corners. Tillman failed to get a hand on Parker at the line of scrimmage, allowing the receiver a free release into the secondary. Yet his size (6'1", 196 pounds) and athletic ability gave him an opportunity to break up the pass. He didn't turn to look for the ball until he was almost in the end zone, but he made an outstanding play on the ball once he found it. Said Tillman after the game, "It seems like you have a lot of time to think about it, but it's more of a reaction than anything. When you're in the moment and everything's moving so quick everything is reaction."
Because of that quick reaction, the Bears were able to hold on to a slim lead and seal their first win of the season.
Jeremy Stoltz is an Associate Editor for Chicago Sports Weekly. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and BearReport.com.
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