Smart playcalling and solid execution up-front can make any running back look like a superstar, though Fred Jackson is solid in his own right. On Sunday afternoon, Jackson took advantage of a superb playcall, near-flawless execution by his lineman and a safety that looked lost in the open-field as he sprinted 80 yards for the score.
The play was interesting both because of the blocking scheme and for how Jackson was utilized. In some ways, it was deceptive, with Buffalo showing one look before motioning into another before the snap. In others, it was simply power in the trenches and the exploitations of a massive hole in the middle of the field, created by the coverage New York showed.
To get a better idea of what happened, we're going to take a look at the play from beginning to end. You'll see it's simple and subtle, yet includes effective wrinkles and sound fundamentals, all adding up to a huge touchdown run by Jackson.
The Bills came out with four players split out and Ryan Fitzpatrick in the gun with Corey McIntyre to his left. Before the snap, Fred Jackson motions from the right slot, bringing his man into the box with him. What was a six-man front became a seven-man front.
Here's the look just before the ball is snapped. Jackson settles in at pistol depth, with McIntyre still offset to Fitzpatrick's left. All three defensive backs are lined up in press on the outside, as well. Buffalo has six on seven in the box, so the Giants should be a man free. Note the daylight behind the linebackers here, and how Deon Grant is playing centerfield all the way out of the frame. If Jackson can get free, he's got a whole ton of daylight in front of him.
As the ball is snapped, McIntyre comes across Fitzpatrick's face to seal the end. The rest of the offensive line flows to its left while Fitzpatrick turns and hands to Jackson. McIntyre's block is the key here, and is circled in red.
McIntyre does enough to take the end out of the play and the rest of the line seals the left edge of the hole. The right tackle, engaged and circled in red, peels away from the flow and seals the right side of the hole. It's his block that springs Jackson through the initial wave with relative ease.
While the hole doesn't look huge from the play-by-play angle, take a peek at it from the end zone angle. Notice the offensive line's flow has taken it to the left (or in the screencap below, right) side of the play, with only the right tackle peeling back to seal. All Jackson has to do is evade an arm tackle from the free man.
No problem. Because the defensive backs were in press on the outside and are still stuck with the receivers, Jackson has one man to beat in the middle of the field. Deon Grant began the play well out of frame, and now has to step-up on Jackson and make a stop.
Grant comes upfield hard to meet Jackson, but completely misjudges the angle. Jackson makes a quick cut to his left, Grant's angle is broken and the Giants' safety is left grasping at air as he tries to recover.
With Grant out of the way, all Jackson has to do is outrun the defense. He makes a man miss near the 10 and stumbles into the end zone, capping an 80-yard run with a touchdown.
While Jackson's individual effort is to be commended, this play started with the formation and motion. The execution and blocking up front gave Jackson a hole one could drive a truck through, allowing the Bills' running back a free pass to daylight with only the deep safety to beat.
A tip of the cap to Chan Gailey for motioning Jackson from the slot and using an offset pistol. In this case, everything went right as the Bills leveraged a favorable look and executed for a huge play at the time.