The Seattle Seahawks kept their season alive by stopping the Dallas Cowboys in the redzone and with a couple of key plays during their game. One of the biggest plays happened in the third quarter when Justin Coleman intercepted Dak Prescott for a touchdown.
Here is the play:
- The Cowboys line up in a 2x2 set. Jason Witten is the tight end, while Ezekiel Elliott is in the backfield.
- The Seahawks counter with a 4-2 Over Nickel front where they have one safety deep pre-snap. Versus 11-personnel (1 RB - 1 TE - 3 WRs), this is a common formation for Seattle.
- After the snap, Shaquill Griffin takes outside leverage while Byron Maxwell plays man coverage on the right side of the field. The Seahawks do this in their Cover 3 looks with a split out wide receiver on one side of the field.
- Since it’s 2nd and 7, the Cowboys are trying to pick up the first down here or are trying to get into position by attacking the center of the defense. The two outside wide receivers are running hitch routes while the interior three (Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, Ezekiel Elliott) are setting up a triangle passing pattern for Prescott.
- Dak starts by reading Dez Bryant on the left. He is covered by Griffin in his deep third and Justin Coleman as the underneath third, so he moves on to Terrance Williams. Williams is also covered well by the physical play of Maxwell.
- Correctly, Dak then moves on to his third progression which is Elliott coming out of the backfield. Prescott actually moves around in the pocket well sensing the pressure from Frank Clark. However, he then tries to hop pass the ball to Elliott which is overthrown right into the lap of Coleman who returns the pick for the easiest touchdown of his career.
In my opinion, you can boil this one play down to the inaccuracy of Prescott, but he actually goes through his reads correctly and they realistically would have picked up three or four yards with a well thrown pass.
Not knowing the scheme or the Cowboys’ specific rules, there is an argument to be made for Prescott to be reading this from Beasley as his first read, Witten as his second who does actually get open, and Elliott as the third read as opposed to the method that he did originally. If Dak knew this was zone coverage before the snap perhaps he would have done that. Instead, he probably assumed it was Cover 1 Man, the Seahawks most common coverage, which is what caused him to read the play this way. If Seattle was in this coverage, Dak would have had Dez Bryant versus Shaquill Griffin in a one-on-one match-up and this would have been his preferred placement for the pass.
Going back to Seattle, Coleman was simply in the right place at the right time. This “pick-six” gave the Seahawks their first lead of the game and they wouldn’t relinquish it for the rest of the game for the victory.