Bears on Defense
3rd-and-13 on the Philadelphia 27-yard line. It's early in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles line up in a three-receiver set. QB Donovan McNabb stands in the shotgun with RB Brian Westbrook to his right. Receivers are split wide on both sides of the field, with a slot receiver and tight end on the left side of the formation. The Bears counter with their nickel package. Both cornerbacks press the wide receivers, with nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. playing off the slot man.
DT Tommie Harris
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
At the snap, all three receivers and the tight end release downfield. LBs Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher both drop into coverage, while the rest of the secondary employs an umbrella zone. This leaves only a four-man rush. DE Mark Anderson and DT Israel Idonije are positioned on the right side of the line, while DE Adewale Ogunleye and DT Tommie Harris are lined up left. Idonije is double-teamed immediately, leaving Anderson one-on-one with the offensive tackle. He uses an inside rip move to gain leverage on the tackle. This forces the offensive guard to come off his block of Idonije and help on Anderson, thinning the middle of the line. On the other side, Ogunleye uses a spin move to get inside the offensive tackle and forces McNabb to step up in the pocket. This all occurs as Harris is battling the offensive guard. Once McNabb moves up in the pocket, Harris spins inside, brushes past Westbrook's chip block, and takes the quarterback down for the sack.
This play occurred early in the fourth quarter while the game was still tied. The resulting punt went out of bounds at the 50-yard line – the Eagles were too afraid to kick the ball to Devin Hester – and gave the Bears great field position, which they used to kick a field goal and take the lead.
While the defensive linemen all worked very well together on this play, the sack wouldn't have occurred if not for the stellar coverage by the secondary. McNabb is pressured during the play, but he does have time to throw the ball – only no one is open. This gives the Bears defensive line time to corral the once-nimble QB.
Bears on Offense
2nd-and-10 on the Philadelphia 15-yard line. The Bears are in the midst of their final drive. QB Brian Griese's helmet audio cut out at the beginning of the drive, forcing him to call his own plays. Yet just before this snap, his audio comes back on. The play sent in from the booth calls for four wide receivers, two on each side. Griese lines up in the shotgun with RB Adrian Peterson to his right. Hester is split right, with TE Desmond Clark in the slot. WR Mark Bradley is wide left, with WR Muhsin Muhammad in the slot. The Eagles counter with their nickel package and rush only four linemen.
QB Brian Griese
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
At the snap, all four receivers release downfield, each running a straight fly pattern into the end zone. Philadelphia DE Juqua Thomas uses a speed rush and beats T Fred Miller off the edge. This puts immediate pressure on Griese, who responds by shifting to the left side edge of the pocket. Meanwhile, Eagles nickelback Sheldon Brown, who lined up opposite Muhammad at the outset of the play, has passed off the receiver to safety Sean Considine. This is part of the zone coverage Philadelphia used on the play, where Brown covers the shorter zone and Considine takes the deeper zone. At the moment Brown leaves Muhammad to the safety, Griese releases the ball – a split second before Thomas can get his hands on him. Muhammad, who now stands in the end zone, turns as the ball is released. Considine does not turn toward the play and is in no position to defend Muhammad, who raises up and catches the ball in the back of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Seeing Miller let his man fly off the edge is becoming an all-too-familiar sight this year, but on this play it doesn't affect Griese who steps away from the pressure and gives himself time to throw the ball. This is what is known as "pocket presence," something QBs gain with experience and the reason Griese was able to get the throw off. It's no coincidence that the Bears' two most experienced skill-position players, Muhammad and Griese, hooked up for this season-saving TD.
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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