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Retro Film Breakdown: Wild Card Game 2017 (Chiefs) KW Kneel For The Win

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The KW Kneel For the Win play is usually the single biggest play in the game that helped secure the win.  Why KW? It’s because I work at Keller Williams as a realtor.   This is the retro film review of the wild card game between the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs.

KW – Kneel For the Win:



You knew very well that this was going to be the Kneel for the Win play this week.   This is a third down play, and I’ve criticized the play formation for the two plays preceding this one because they called low upside formations.  The coaching staff realizes the mistake here by spreading out the defense a bit more here, as they send two receivers to move two defenders away from the play.  Once you take out the two receivers along with the two defenders, there are nine offensive players against nine defenders.  The match up usually favors the defensive side because the QB is usually not involved in a running back play, but the offense has the advantage of knowing where the play is supposed to go.  If you look at it on the base form, this is a broken play.  The original call seems to be a run to the middle, with Mariota acting as the decoy to hold the outside defender.  The linebacker coming off the edge is the target here as Mariota will hold this defender while Henry runs up the middle.  However, the middle of the field is clogged enough that Henry may as well just fall down and protect the ball.  Henry decides to make the cut towards the outside, which is not the original call because it goes right into the linebacker that is sitting free.  This is where Mariota makes the block of the year, because he improvises a great block on the linebacker.  Furthermore, this isn’t one of those Tom Brady blocks where he hopes the defender doesn’t level him, but rather one where Mariota puts his shoulder into the block and pushes the defender out of the way.  Henry does the rest, turns the corner and goes past the first down marker.  This is a broken play, that turns into the game winning play.  The other thing to notice on this play is our friend Revis, who pulls up on pursuit, rather than attempting to make a tackle on the runner.  This lack of effort has been plastered all over Twitter, so this isn’t new to most of you.  Revis essentially made a business decision here to not get injured and pretty much gave up on the play.

Another thing of note, there is no point in tackling Henry on this play.  Once he goes past the first down marker, the game is over if Henry is tackled.  If the Chiefs defense was well coached, they let Henry run into the end zone for a touchdown, since this is a 1-point game.  Given the relative conservatism from the Titans’ coaches, you can be assured that they would go for the extra point kick.  At that point, the Chiefs would have about 1:45 to get a touchdown and two-point conversion.  It’s not ideal, but conceivable so there is no point in tackling the runner here.  I’ll provide an example here:


I think most people would agree that the Patriots are one of the best coached teams this decade, with exceptional situational awareness.  The defense is down 7 points, and the Jets are in field goal range with 1:45 left on the clock.  The Patriots have one timeout left, which means that a first down ends the game, and they won’t have any shot.  So notice on the play, once the Jets running back crosses the first down marker, all of them slow down running, and let him run into the end zone.  Once the runner is past the first down marker, that is the ONLY option for them to stay in the game.  This is a very good example of how a well-coached team thinks in unusual situations.  What happened afterwards? The Patriots went right down the field and scored a touchdown with 24 seconds left.  Thereafter they didn’t recover an onside kick, which ended the game, albeit they certainly had a chance of recovering the ball with one or two fortuitous bounces.   They took a situation in which the game was over to a situation where they had a chance to recover the ball near midfield with about 24 seconds left to score a touchdown.

However, in the Chiefs case, they tackle Henry in the field of play, which ends the game, and allowed Mariota to kneel for the win.  You can make the argument that Henry could out-smart them and just fall down before the end zone.  That is absolutely a possibility, but there is a non-zero chance that the young running back runs into the end zone in the moment.  On one hand, the game is over.  On the other hand, there is a chance that Henry runs into the end zone, which would give the Chiefs a shot at coming back.  I don’t want to take too much away from Mariota’s great block, but I thought the tackle was incredibly shortsighted.  Also, if you are Revis’ agent, this is exactly what you point to as why your client pulled up on the play.

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