Deep Crosser vs. Single-High; or, Speed Kills

With the Chiefs/Bucs Super Bowl coming up, I thought I would take a look at one of the big plays from their Week 12 match up. It’s a play that went down in the books as a 44 yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill.

Hills beats his man at the line and Patrick Mahomes hits him with a strike downfield. Let’s dig in.

The Bucs show a two-high safety look pre-snap, then start rotating to a single-high look just before the ball is snapped. The Bucs have 4 down linemen and two linebackers behind them.

The Bucs bring 5 men on the rush and the Chiefs send 5 men out on routes. With a single-high safety, the Bucs play man-to-man on the back-end of the defense.

The safety rotating down picks up the RB out of the backfield on the slant route in a slant/flat combo. That leaves the single-high safety dealing with the two vertical routes on the outside and Hill running a crosser from inside. Hill gets inside position on his defender and begins pushing across and down the field. The safety stays back, Hill gains ground and Mahomes puts the ball in a perfect spot.

One of the reasons the safety stays deep is likely because Hill starts the crosser shallow, so he’s not immediately on the radar.

One of the other reasons is that Mahomes holds the safety with his eyes. He’s looking at the vertical routes the entire time, then comes back to Hill late and flips the ball over the top.

You can see his head turn as he’s starting his throwing motion. From the moment he sees the safety sneaking down towards the line, Mahomes knows this ball is going to Hill. He just needs to hold the safety, and he does a beautiful job of it.

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