Alfred Blue's 20-yard touchdown run to put the Texans up for good in their 19-9 win over Tampa Bay was execution at its finest.
The play was blocked perfectly. Blue was quick and explosive to the hole. The downfield effort was outstanding by the receivers. Blue broke through a few feeble attempts at tackles. Put it all together and it was a brilliant piece of football art that was majestic to watch, and I did standing a few feet away on the Texans sideline.
But, when I got home and had a chance to watch the end zone copy, there was one other key piece to this play that many probably didn't credit after the run.
The use of motion and shifts isn't typically just for giggles, and when used properly, it can really tell a story for the offense. On this touchdown run, TE C.J. Fiedorowicz's motion actually opened the door for Blue as much as any of the great blocks thrown in front of him.
The Texans came out in 11 personnel (1 back, 1 TE) on first down after Cecil Shorts III's key third down catch for a first down.
Fiedorowicz was set back off the line of the scrimmage as QB Ryan Mallett started barking out the signals. With C.J. on the offense's right to start, the Bucs set the strength to that side, expecting power or a zone run that way. LB Lavonte David moved up to the line of scrimmage and ILB Kwon Alexander shifted accordingly. Backside LB Danny Lansanah shifted as well as he was now responsible for backside A/B gap runs.
When Fiedorowicz went in motion, the Texans essentially changed the strength of the formation. This precipitated a shift on the Buccaneers side of the ball as well.
David shifted to an off-the-ball linebacker spot and now was responsible for backside A/B gap runs on the left side. Lansanah shifted outside the defensive end on the right side. But, two players didn't get the memo and that created the issue for Tampa Bay.
DE No. 96 T.J. Fatinikun aligned originally in a wide five technique but when Fiedorowicz motioned over, he didn't bump down to a tighter alignment, as Lansanah moved to an outside nine technique.
But, the most important player that needed to adjust was Alexander. When he didn't account for the motion by shifting/adjusting to his right as the other linebackers did, the Bucs were dead.
That error left a massive gap near LT Chris Clark, who just positioned Fatinikun out of the way and Fiedorowicz latched on Lansanah, driving him clear out of the play. Texans LG Oday Aboushi was able to help Ben Jones on the nose tackle and then Aboushi was able to "combo" off to Alexander, in large part because Alexander never put himself in proper position after the motion.
Aboushi got just enough of Alexander as Blue darted through the hole, as the former LSU linebacker could muster only a weak tackle attempt on his former LSU teammate as Blue headed to the end zone.
Again, the play was blocked beautifully, but the simple art of motion played a significant role in this touchdown run, and now you know why.
View photos from Wednesday's practice as the Texans prepare to face the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday.