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Ten Best Crucial Plays of 2010 #7 - Mike Tolbert Contributes to the Week 3 Circus

Week 3 vs. Chargers


2nd Quarter 5:21 1st and 10 at SEA 12 (Shotgun) M.Tolbert up the middle to SEA 7 for 5 yards (D.Hawthorne). FUMBLES (D.Hawthorne), RECOVERED by SEA-R.Bryant at SEA 7. R.Bryant to SEA 7 for no gain (K.Dielman).

WP Before Play:  44%

WP After Play:  61%

Total WP Swing:  +17%


I refuse to believe Mike Tolbert is only 5'9" and 243 lbs., because he looks like he's around 6'0", 343 lbs., and runs like it.  How he managed to get 735 yards and 11 TDs in 2010 is a mystery to me.  At any rate, he managed to cough up the ball in the red zone, thus securing Seattle's slim 3 point lead, thus its placement on the list.  For those keeping count, this is the second entry from Week 3 on the list.

The Seahawks line up in a traditional 4-3.  Or at least as traditional as it can get, since the Chargers come in with everyone bunched on the line.  Rivers is in the shotgun with two RBs flanking him in a splitback formation.  Only Malcolm Floyd is outside the box, and he's lined up on the left slot position.  The rightside WR is tucked in close to Antonio Gates.

Seattle has its linebackers lined up this way, in the traditional slots, from right to left:  David Hawthorne, Lofa Tatupu, Will Herring.  They appear to be in zones, anticipating a pass play.  Remember what I said about football execution never following the script?

Snap.  Rivers gives the ball to Tolbert.  Unfortunately, Brandon Mebane has to wear the goat horns on this play.  He's slated to hold the middle of the LOS, but Tyronne Green pushes, spins, and shoves him to the ground as Tolbert waddles past both of them.  With a free lane, he cuts to the right side.

There, he meets Heater.  Or rather, Heater crashes into him by accident.  The broadcaster praises Hawthorne for lowering his helmet and going for the ball strip, but don't kid yourself.  This was a Bob Ross Happy Accident Special.  After the snap, Heater holds his zone, looking to cover Antonio Gates.  But Gates isn't looking for a route, he's looking for a blocking lane.  Heater literally bounces off Gates and into Tolbert's vulnerable spot, popping the ball loose.  Red Bryant, having been screened off the main play, falls on the ball, mostly because it bounced in the same vicinity he was about to fall in.

Football plays are sometimes won by talent--the biggest, strongest guy will always prevail.  Sometimes they are won by a combination of talent and luck--the guy wasn't the biggest or strongest, but he made the most of his circumstances and came out on top in spite of his limitations.  And sometimes football plays are won by shitballs dumb luck--a bunch of guys are failing at their jobs, and in the process stumble onto an unexpected advantage.  Not by skill, or hard work.  They just happened to be there.

If it feels like I'm diminishing the crucial success of this play, it's because I sort of am.  Oh yes, it was a huge change of events.  San Diego went from being in comfortable scoring range to having to trot out their defense in the blink of an eye.  The result was huge, and deserves a place on this list.  But the process to get to that result?  Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Turnovers are fun to watch.  I'd rather watch competent football.