Carolina tight end Ed Dickson was a thorn in the Detroit Lions' side all game with big play after big play in Sunday's 27-24 win over Detroit.
The eighth-year player out of Oregon recorded catches of 64, 57, 23, 18 and 13 yards, totaling five catches in all for 175 yards.
The two really long ones were game-changing plays that led to Panther scores. The 57-yard connection in the second quarter is the subject of this week's Film Review.
The Lions are leading 10-3 in the second quarter, and have forced the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton into a 3rd and 1 at the Carolina 34-yard line.
Carolina is selling run all the way. They bring in an extra offensive lineman with two tight ends and a fullback in the I-formation in front of power back Jonathan Stewart.
The Lions counter with an extra defensive lineman, three linebackers, two safeties and just one cornerback in Darius Slay playing the deep middle. The Lions have 10 defenders in the box in all. Detroit's pinched down both safeties, Glover Quin and Tavon Wilson, on either edge of the formation for contain.
Pre-snap the Lions do some shifting around with Quin, Wilson and Slay. Wilson jumps from the strong side to the weak side of the formation, and Slay shifts over from deep weak side to the deep strong side. Unfortunately for Slay, he would have been in a better position to make a play on Dickson had he stayed on the weak side.
At the snap, the Panthers do a really good job selling the run. The halfback dive fake is designed for the right A-gap (between center and guard). Left guard Andrew Norwell (#68) helps sell the run by pulling into the gap, which draws the attention of Lions linebackers Jarrad Davis and Nick Bellore.
Dickson (#84) does a terrific job selling his block on Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead first before sneaking out into the secondary.
The play fake and block by Dickson is so convincing that Lions safety Tavon Wilson pinches too far down, and doesn't keep his contain of the left edge. He allows Newton to get outside of him.
After selling the block, Dickson escapes down the field with no Lions defender picking him up. Even Lions cornerback Darius Slay, who has deep contain on the play, gets sucked in five yards on the play fake. At the snap, Slay was at the 43-yard line. He steps up too much on the play fake and never sees Dickson slip out into the secondary. By the time he does, it's too late.
Slay does a good job staying with the play and chasing down Dickson to save a touchdown at the Lions 9-yard line, but the damage was done. Newton would find running back Christian McCaffrey on a short 6-yard touchdown pass two plays later to tie the game at 10.
It was a very good play design selling the run by an offense that likes to run the football. Detroit's defense had a couple breakdowns, and when that happens, big plays can happen.
The broadcast showed Slay and Wilson talking after the play, with Wilson obviously frustrated.