X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Broncos

Jeremy Stoltz, our very own Prince of the Playbook, goes to the film room once again and breaks down one offensive snap and one defensive snap from Sunday's season-saving 37-34 victory over the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field.

Bears on Defense
1st-and-10 at the Chicago 36-yard line. The Broncos line up in a three-receiver set. QB Jay Cutler is under center, with FB Cecil Sapp and RB Andre Hall in the I-formation behind him. Two wideouts are split left, and another is split right. There are no tight ends on the field. The Bears counter with a 4-3 package. LB Hunter Hillenmeyer is spread left, covering the slot receiver. The four down linemen are augmented by SS Adam Archuleta, who is lined up along the right side of the defensive line showing blitz. Because there are no tight ends, DE Mark Anderson is positioned well outside of the left offensive tackle with no one in front of him.

DE Mark Anderson
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At the snap, Cutler turns and fakes a dive handoff to the fullback. The entire offensive line blocks hard right, except for left tackle Matt Lepsis, who runs right at LB Brian Urlacher looking to seal him in the middle of the field. This leaves Anderson unblocked. Cutler then turns and pitches the ball to Hall running wide left. Anderson does not bite on the initial ball fake and recognizes the pitch. He quickly reaches Hall in the backfield and drops him for an 8-yard loss, knocking Denver out of field goal range.

The Broncos ran this play successfully three times earlier in the game, one of which resulted in a touchdown. Each time the play-side defensive end bit on the initial dive fake, thus losing his outside contain. The running back, after receiving the pitch, then had ample room to run. It was obviously something defensive coordinator Bob Babich addressed at halftime because this time, Anderson doesn't bite on the play fake. Instead, he rushes directly into the backfield and meets Hall just after the ball does. It is always the defensive end's responsibility to make sure the ball-carrier does not run freely around the edge. On this play, Anderson does his job admirably.

Bears on Offense
4th-and-3 at the Denver 3-yard line. With only 32-seconds left in the game, the Bears line up for their last offensive play down by seven points. QB Rex Grossman is under center with RB Adrian Peterson alone in the backfield. TE Greg Olsen is split left with WR Muhsin Muhammad in the slot. WR Bernard Berrian is split wide right. The Broncos counter with a 4-4 goal-line package. All four down linemen and linebackers are up on the line of scrimmage, with the secondary employing tight, man-to-man coverage.

WR Bernard Berrian
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At the snap, Grossman takes one step backward and pump fakes the ball in Berrian's direction. The offensive line picks up Denver's all-out blitz admirably. Berrian quickly fakes a slant pattern before breaking his route toward the back-right corner of the end zone. Grossman takes another step back and fires a bullet off his back foot. The ball reaches Berrian as he's falling out of bounds. The receiver reaches out and snags the ball just as his knee hits the turf. He then rolls out of bound with possession of the ball. After a booth review the play is ruled a touchdown, tying the game for Chicago and sending the contest into overtime.

This touchdown pass was set up by the previous play. On the earlier play, Berrian ran a quick slant and got his hands on the ball before having it knocked away by the defender. Obviously the Denver secondary was prepared for the slant, something offensive coordinator Ron Turner took notice of. On the next play, Berrian faked the slant and Grossman pump-faked the pass. This put All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey out of position and opened up space for the receiver along the sideline. Grossman heaved a perfect pass, and Berrian made an outstanding catch. The play call was perfect, exploiting the aggressiveness of the Denver cornerback. If the Bears do make it to the playoffs, we should all look back at this play and recognize it as the catalyst that propelled them into the postseason.

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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