ColtPower Playbook: Addai's First Touchdown

So you saw Joseph Addai swing out of the backfield to catch a pass for his first NFL touchdown. What you won't believe is what it took for that play to work so perfectly. Check it out in our new feature that in the future will usually be an exclusive for our ColtPower Insiders.

You remember the play. Even if you didn't see it live, it made all the highlight reels because when rookie running back Joseph Addai caught a short pass out of the backfield and scampered for his first NFL touchdown, it was also the completion that pushed Peyton Manning past Johnny Unitas for career completions. With just over 8 minutes left in the 1st quarter and the Colts leading 7-0, Manning set up in the shotgun on a 3rd-and-6 at the Texans' 21-yard line, patiently exploring his options before spotting Addai. They made it look simple, but take a look at what had to happen to make this play work....

The above diagram shows how the two teams initially lined up. Just before the snap, one linebacker comes up wide on Tarik Glenn, the other slides forward and towards the right sideline. All three wide receivers are going to face resistance on their first step as their defenders are all up on the line.

This diagram shows you what happens at the snap. Harrison and Stokley take off up the right side, while Reggie Wayne very casually jogs diagonally about 4 yards out and starts slowly cutting across the middle. Both offensive tackles have to swing wide to keep the outside rushers screened from Manning. Dominic Rhodes sees the LB who cheated up on his side and goes right to the gap and puts a very solid, upright block on him that stops him dead in his tracks. Left guard Dylan Gandy and center Jeff Saturday both neutralize their attackers at the line. Right guard Jake Scott has absolutely no one to block, and as Addai steps forward, he notices the LB on his side is not attacking, so he has no one to pick up either. Meanwhile, as Wayne continues across towards the middle, the safety on his side steps up as he sees Wayne isn't going to challenge him deep on that left side.

Here's where the magic starts to happen. All of the offensive linemen continue to do a great job with their blocks. Wayne is now being trailed most closely by the safety (in red) who has come up thinking he has sniffed out the intended target. The cornerback, who still continues to trail Wayne laterally, has to go a step or two deeper upfield to avoid the incoming safety who is now closer to the Colts receiver. Addai sees all the movement trailing Wayne coming from the left, and the LB on his side actually taking a step back as he sees Wayne coming across the field towards him. So Addai makes the decision to go out on his route since he has no one to block. Stokley is running a deep post and Harrison has his man well out of the play.

Right at the middle of the field, Addai and Wayne pass each other going opposite directions, separated only by a yard or two. Wayne is now about 6 yards past the line of scrimmage while Addai is just 4 yards deep. The linebacker on Addai's side sees the running back so he starts to retreat and move to his right, obviously recognizing that he's so far behind that the best he's going to be able to do is cut off Addai maybe 5 to 10 yards downfield after the catch. There's no way he can run laterally and catch him because of his delay in seeing him. Manning steps up in the pocket even though his offensive tackles still have their men screened out. As he does, the defensive end that Gandy was blocking gets some push at an angle and takes a step towards the Colts quarterback. With everyone from the left trailing Wayne, Addai is running to a wide open area, so Manning hits him in stride at the 17-yard line. As Addai turns upfield, the LB who had hoped to have a chance at cutting him off collides with the cornerback who has been desperately trying to keep pace with Wayne since the snap of the ball. As Addai runs towards the goal line, the safety who was holding his position in the deep zone on the opposite side -- because of Stokley's post route to that area -- tries to run laterally at about the 2-yard line to get across the field to Addai, but he can't make up the ground and the rookie scores.

And that's what really happened on the memorable play for Addai and Manning. As the playbook diagrams point out, a whole lot had to go right in those few seconds for what looked like a fairly simple short pass that was converted into a touchdown.

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