'Boom' spin: Anatomy of a game-saving play

Running back Dan Herron spins to convert crucial fourth down in final minute and make Ohio homecoming triumphant.

Dan Herron admits the play didn’t start out too promising.

The Indianapolis Colts had the ball just outside of the Cleveland 2-yard line in the final minute of Sunday’s dramatic conclusion at FirstEnergy Stadium. Fourth down, 1 yard to go, 44 seconds remaining.

Gain a first down or the Colts lose. And Herron, a second-year running back who until recently played on special teams, was entrusted with gaining the hardest of yards.

The Colts used their jumbo package with three tight ends and a fullback, a clear indication this was going to be a smashmouth play. Linebacker Andrew Jackson, lined up in front of Herron as the fullback and sped to the right to kick out an outside Browns defender. Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle, also on the right, blocked down.

Offensive left guard Jack Mewhort pulled to the right side, but Herron bumped into the back of his blocker.

“For a second there,” Herron said, “it was ugly.”

Herron bounced to his right and saw Browns safety Donte Whitner closing in. Then the back nicknamed “Boom” instinctively reacted with a surprise move.

Herron planted his right foot at about the 5-yard line, then spun to his left inside to avoid Whitner, churning his legs and diving to the 1.

First down.

Special situations call for special moves?

“I guess so,” Herron said Wednesday, reliving the play. “It was kind of a reaction. I kind of bounced it out to the outside a little bit, and I (saw) a little seam. Donte Whitner was coming downhill. I kind of spun. When I spun, it was like perfect timing and I just dove for the first down.”

Thanks to that all-important play, Andrew Luck threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on the next play. Colts 25, Browns 24.

The Colts closed it out with an interception.

Herron played his college ball at Ohio State. He grew up a Buckeye in Warren, Ohio, and was an All-State running back at Warren G. Harding High School.

So his homecoming was rather special.

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said afterward, “This is one of those games that you will remember for the rest of your life.”

That Herron will.

“The best one and a half yards of my career,” Herron said. “Absolutely.”

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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