X-and-O Show: Marshall's 31-yard TD

We use All 22 film to break down in detail Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall's late-game, 31-yard touchdown reception against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

In the fourth quarter of Monday's night's contest against the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears wide receivers Brandon Marshall scored his second touchdown of 2012. It was a play in which Marshall ended up wide open in the middle of the field, enough so that he was able to sprint into the end zone more then 25 yards without a single defender coming within 10 yards of him.

"It's been awhile since I've had a play that was that wide open," Marshall said, "so I was very excited to get a touchdown like that."

Let's go the All 22 coaches film to find out how Marshall, Chicago's best receiver, was left all alone by Dallas' secondary.


The Bears line up in a strong-right set with TE Kellen Davis on the right edge. Jay Cutler is under center with Marshall (blue) in the left slot. Marshall then motions right across the formation.

Marshall motions to just a few yards outside of Davis (yellow). Cowboys CB Brandon Carr (white) follows Marshall across the field, indicating man coverage.

The Play

At the snap, Davis and Marshall release downfield. Carr is manned up on Marshall and S Danny McCray is one on one with Davis.

Marshall breaks inside at eight yards. At the same time, Davis runs a post corner directly at Carr.

Davis ends up picking off Carr, while also taking McCray with him. This leaves Marshall wide open underneath. Cutler finds Marshall at the 26-yard line.

Marshall has no one near him after the catch and he's able to sprint untouched into the end zone for the final Bears touchdown of the evening.

Why it worked

Here is Cutler's explanation of the play:

"At that point in the game the Cowboys are trying to do anything to get the ball back. They brought a lot of guys. A corner came, they rushed a guy off the left edge. Strictly man over there and their guy ran into Kellen on the corner route. [Marshall] ended up wide open. It doesn't happen very often. We had a really good call for that defense, luckily and he was able to get sprung. During the course of the game it happens once in a while. We were lucky enough that we were able to take advantage of it."

What actually happened on the play was Davis intentionally picked off Carr, which is illegal in the NFL. Fortunately for the Bears, the referees did not catch the interference and Marshall ended up with an easy score.

There's a saying in sports: If you're not cheating, you're not trying. While Davis did a good job selling the pick, by acting like he accidentally ran into the defender, the play was designed to do exactly what it did: illegally clear out Carr.

While it worked on this snap, the fact this play is now on tape will be a red flag for referees in future Bears contests. They'll be watching for picks like this going forward. If coordinator Mike Tice wants to use this play again in the future, he'd be wise to wait a while, giving everyone time to forget this ever happened. Otherwise, the next occurrence will surely garner a flag.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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