Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Most Dangerous Play in Football: The Pick 6

This time of year, the NFL Playoffs and College Bowl games, usually gives us games between evenly matched teams. Watching a game in its entirety, the contest usually comes down to one crucial play.

If there's one play that can change the outcome of a game, it's the "Pick 6." A Pick 6 quickly changes the momentum of a game and pretty much crushes the victim's hopes of winning.

Different from a kick or punt return for a touchdown, the Pick 6 not only negates a team's possession, but also swings the score by a touchdown. Whereas on a special teams touchdown, the opposing team was already receiving the ball.

I don't have official stats, but I'm willing to bet a team with a Pick 6 wins at least 85% of the time, especially in the playoffs.

Just look at the first two rounds of this year's NFL Playoffs. The Ravens/Dolphins were evenly matched except the Ravens' defense and one Ed Reed. With the score 6-3 nearing halftime, Chad Pennington overthrew everyone but Ed Reed turned into a wide receiver and made an incredible "Willie Mays" catch and then is somehow able to turnaround and zig zag up field for what was pretty much a momentum killing, game clinching touchdown. We all know Ed Reed has made a career of this play that will one day put him into the Hall of Fame.

The guy is flat out sick and a lot of fun to watch. I guarantee you every opposing quarterback losses sleep while having nightmares about Reed the night before playing the Ravens.

Let's go to the Eagles/Vikings Wild Card Game. The Vikings were focusing on stopping Brian Westbrook giving the Eagles a hard time to find the End Zone. With Philly up 9-7 in the second quarter. Tarvaris Jackson made a boneheaded mistake that pretty much cost his team the game. Jackson made a horrible pass out in the flat while Asante Samuel's eye's lit up and picked off the pass and scooted down the sideline for a touchdown. Eagles 16, Vikings 7. The Vikings never recovered and you can bet Tarvaris Jackson thought twice every time he wanted to throw in Samuel's direction.

Rewind to the Falcons/Cardinals game in Glendale. After being outplayed most of the first half, Atlanta was able to finish off the half strong and take a 17-14 lead into halftime. Atlanta also received the opening kick off of the second half. A bad snap/pitch whatever it was, landed right in the hands of Antrel Rolle who took the gift all the way to the house untouched for a TD. Cardinals 21, Falcons 17. Game over as Atlanta could never recover. Not exactly a "Pick 6," but pretty much the same effect.

On Sunday, Eagles/Giants. Asante Samuel up to his old tricks again. The Giants were leading 3-0 early and there defense was having their way shutting down Westbrook. Eli Manning overthrows his receiver and the ball lands right into Samuel's hands. Samuel took the ball down inside the 5 yard line. Again, not exactly a "Pick 6," but it gives the offense a First and Goal inside the 5. Two plays later, Philly 7, Giants 3. You can bet this play hurt Eli's confidence and gave all the momentum to the road team. This play was a huge gamebreaker considering the Giants never found the End Zone.

So look out on Championship Sunday. You'll have the usual "Game Breaking" suspects with Asante Samuel, Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu looking to make the big play to put their respected teams in the Super Bowl.

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