Anatomy of a Play: Wilson to McCoy Touchdown


This week’s play breakdown is going to be Russell Wilson’s beautiful TD to TE Anthony McCoy. It was a great throw and catch, but it was an even better play design and play call by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevel. The combination of formation and route combinations had the Cowboys lost confused, and great execution by the Seahawks turned that confusion into 6 points.

The Seahawks come out in an unusual 13 look (one back, 3 TEs). All 3 TE on are the right side of the line and Sydney Rice is split out wide on the weak side. The Seahawks don’t use much 13 personnel, and look has to have the Cowboys thinking run.

The Cowboys are in their base  3-4 personnel, the with FS back in “center field” and the SS up near the box. This look usually indicates man coverage on the outside, with the FS taking a deep center zone, and either the SS or a ILB manning a shorter zone in the center. That is Wilson’s pre-snap read. He knows that he wants to attack anywhere from the seems to the sideline.

After the snap, the Seahawks send 5 players out into patterns. Rice attacks deep down the sideline, but is well covered. Knowing that Rice is going to be single covered from his pre-snap read, Wilson looks that way first. This look by Wilson pulls both safeties in that direction.

At this point, all the receivers run off camera from the broadcast view, so lets switch to the wide overhead view. He is that view at approximately the same point as in the picture above

Wilson’s next step in his progression is TE Zack Miller who’s running a post pattern into the center of the field. Miller is also covered, but this should have been expected since the pre-snap read said the middle of the field was where the defenders extra defensive backs were likely going to be. This look by Wilson freezes the FS and keeps him in the center of the field. Without it, the TD probably doesn’t happen.

The route combination for the other 2 TEs, Moore and McCoy, had them both running vertically side by side for the first 10 yards downfield before Moore broke towards the corner and McCoy continued down the seam. With the 2 LBs fully behind on the routes (underlined), the CB had to choose which to cover and chose to cover Moore on the corner route. This was actually the correct choice, and the FS should have been in the middle of the field and in position to take McCoy, but as I said above, Wilson had already “looked” the FS away from the play, leaving McCoy open to catch the touchdown.

I want to point out the Marshawn Lynch is wide open in the middle of the field (circled), and that he would have easily picked up the first down. Had Wilson dumped the ball off to him, I don’t think anyone would have had a problem with him taking those yards. But Wilson didn’t need to check down to Lynch. By the time this picture was taken, the ball was already in the air almost to McCoy. McCoy was the correct read on this play, and Wilson read it perfectly.

All that was left was for McCoy to make the catch, and for the celebration to begin.

I’ll wrap this up by pointing out that all of this was made possible because of some great blocking up front by the line. The Cowboys were unable to get any penetration, allowing Wilson to calmly read the field and step into this throw. You can see that clearly in both the endzone and broadcast camera angles below.