As another week comes to an end, it is time, once again, to break down a touchdown from the third-best offense–and best rushing offense–in the National Football League.
I don’t know what genie lamp former general manager John Dorsey rubbed, or who he sold his soul to in order to uncover the gem that is Kareem Hunt, but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m thankful for him. Hunt has made quite the impact since he has arrived on the scene in Kansas City, outrushing 26 entire teams, by himself. He is the current rushing leader in the NFL, and is nearly halfway to a 1,000 yard season. After three games. Let that soak in. The next best running back is over 100 yards behind him on the stat board. And Hunt isn’t just a workhorse. He’s a stud running back with a nose for the end zone. In addition to having the most rushing yards in the league, he has the most touchdowns (tied with Todd Gurley from the Los Angeles Rams.)
On the play I am about to break down, Hunt did something that no other NFL running back has ever done. He scored a touchdown from over 50 yards out for the third game in a row. Absolutely amazing.
As quarterback Alex Smith lines up his team for the fourth quarter play that occurred as the teams came back from the final two-minute warning, it was obviously a run. The Chiefs were already leading 17-10 at this point and only had an interest in running down the clock, expecting to walk out of the city of angels with a one-score victory.
The formation was a simple I-formation jumbo package. The fullback, Anthony Sherman, lined up in front of Hunt. The Chargers, obviously expecting a run, put six men at the line of scrimmage, in an attempt to bottle up Hunt, something they had not been able to do the rest of the game, as he already had over 100 yards at this point.
As the play gets going, Smith puts tight end Travis Kelce–who was effective at blocking but an ineffective pass catcher in this game, finishing with one catch for one yard–in motion, moving from the right of the formation to the left. Smith knew that this was going to be a counter play, where Hunt would start running towards the right of the line before cutting back to the left. By moving Kelce to the left side of the line, he was able to seal the hole for Hunt to blast through.
The Chargers middle linebacker Hayes Pullard can see the handoff happening, and points out the run as Hunt moves up to take the ball from Smith. However, the Chiefs have more than enough blockers up front to stop the initial onslaught of Chargers defenders. The Chiefs offensive front five have done a terrific job this season sealing lanes for Hunt, and this play is no different. You can see the wall they create as the play first gets underway.
Looking at the secondary view of the all-22 film, it becomes clear just how good this Chiefs offensive line is in run-blocking. The hole they create is phenomenal. You can see the lane that Hunt has to move through. He sees it too, also noticing that there is only one Charger in between him and the end zone, safety Tre Boston.
This is the other view of the moment Hunt busts through he line. The arrow shows his direction of travel. You can see that Boston was in a position that should have allowed him to tackle Hunt with nothing more than a 10-yard gain at about the 40-yard line. Hunt had other ideas.
I’m not sure if Boston was just slow to react, or if Hunt is just that fast–I’m going with the latter–but either way, you can see how close Boston was to Hunt, before he has to start chasing him. There was no chance that any Chargers defenders were going chase Hunt down, so it became a one-on-one battle between him and Boston.
As Hunt blew past Boston, none of the other defenders had a chance to catch him. This is what makes the rookie so dangerous. He is a powerful runner who can lower his shoulder and truck defenders. He is an elusive running back who can make guys miss–he made five defenders miss him on a single run earlier in the game. Finally, he is a fast running back who can turn on the jets and outrun even the fastest defenders when he hits the open field. By the time he finished out this run, he had 10 yards on the nearest defender.
Another point I’d like to make here is that Chris Conley, who has been a bit of a blue-collar, under appreciated workhorse this season–ran the entire play with Hunt, making sure his teammate made it all the way to pay dirt unmolested. That is the kind of hustle you like to see from your wide receivers, who have nothing to do with the play, but run the whole way to block.
This play was a perfect example of a perfectly executed run play that should have gone for a 10-yard gain and a first down, but instead went 69-yards to the house, cementing the victory for the Chiefs. Oh, and it broke a record along the way.
This week the Chiefs are back home and under the lights of Arrowhead as the Washington Redskins come to town. I can’t wait!
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