The first two plays of Seattle's second drive of the second quarter were Kafkaesque in their ability to preempt hope and distill our worst dread into ten seconds of game clock. Greg Knapp overachieved. This wasn't run - run - pass - punt, this was play-action pass to the fullback - play-action pass to the fullback. If the NFL has seen a less auspicious start to a drive, if football has witnessed a more conservative plan of attack, if the oblong spheroid, the simple pigskin before it or even the wooden ball of cnapan ever been used less effectively, towards more modest goals, time does not recount it.
Ok, I'm having fun. Two straight play-action passes to the fullback makes for a less than inspiring start to a drive, but it's the preseason and maybe Knapp just wanted to feel the play out. Whatever his impetus for calling the plays, it quite predictably led to a third and long. This is when something interesting happened.
Seattle: 2 WR (left), 2 WR (right), RB, Shotgun.
San Diego: 4-2 Nickel
3-7-SEA 29 (9:26) (Shotgun) 15-S.Wallace pass incomplete short left to 11-D.Butler (28-S.Gregory).
This play ends with Deon Butler supine and stabbing his hands backwards with the urgent but dyscoordinate motion of a head-trauma victim.
It starts with Butler outside left, opposite Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie is a tools messiah. NFL Draft Scout lists under Cromartie's strengths "He has the size and strength to physically dominate receivers in press coverage." Cromartie attempts to press Butler, but instead of tying him up or slowing his release, he gets chucked. Butler does this move, this move he does a lot, this move that's just so cool, where he braces the corner with one hand and gets under the shoulder pad and knocks him away with the other. The result is Cromartie out of the play and Butler a bit staggered but more than able to recover. He's free, slanting uncovered and with a clear path past the first down marker.
It starts with Seneca Wallace in the pocket and Courtney Taylor in the left slot. Taylor runs a route that starts with a look in, straightens and ends in a slant. Can't remember what the route is called, but it's a common route. Taylor is Wallace's first read. Wallace reads, reads left and locks onto Butler. Locks on, stares down, double clutches and sails the pass. Butler doesn't have to jump, but does. The pass is high. Butler doesn't struggle tracking this pass, even if it's a little too deep into his body before he snatches it. No, Butler doesn't do much wrong though the play embarrasses him. He gets Seneca-ed. Replay confirms Steve Gregory is no less than 16 yards away when Butler separates. Gregory is no less than 10 yards away when Butler steadies himself and runs past the Seattle 34. But that Gregory is less than five yards away when Wallace finally passes to Butler as he crosses the 36 -- the spot of the first down.
Had Wallace telegraphed the pass but not waited until Butler crossed the first down marker to pass the ball, Butler could have caught it and ran for an easy first down. Had Wallace not telegraphed the pass, Butler could have caught it for an easy first down. Had Wallace not sailed the pass and Butler not jumped into Gregory's tackle, Butler would have caught it for an easy first down. Instead he became every-camera-angle-available highlight for Gregory.
This play ends with Butler picking himself off the turf and running to the sidelines as the punt team runs on the field.