All offseason we heard how Theo Riddick was improving as a runner, despite his career 2.9 yards per carry average coming in.
It took just one series for Riddick to prove the hype was legit.
Detroit's opening nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive was capped off by a 21-yard touchdown run by Riddick. That play is the focus of this week's Film Review.
The Lions had a 1st and 10 from the Colts 21-yard line and came out in a shotgun, four-receiver set with Riddick lined up in the backfield to Stafford's right.
The Colts, in their nickel package, showed a safety blitz pre-snap to the right of the Lions formation from rookie T.J. Green. This forced Stafford to change the play at the line of scrimmage.
At the snap, Green still came on the blitz.
Stafford changed the call to a run play away from the blitz to the left of the formation. The Colts were in man coverage, and the blitzing safety left them with just a single-high look with safety Mike Adams in the deep middle.
Left guard Laken Tomlinson gets pushed back by defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway at the point of attack, but right guard Larry Warford is pulling left on the play and helps to set up the initial hole – along with terrific seal blocks on the backside from center Travis Swanson and right tackle Riley Reiff– by not only helping to wipe out Ridgeway, but also taking out rush linebacker Trent Cole in the process.
It was a two-for-one special for Warford.
We haven't forgotten about left tackle Taylor Decker, who showed terrific athleticism getting to the second level to stone linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. Riddick runs through the hole behind his rookie left tackle and into the second level.
Now in the second level, Riddick has to either rely on pass catchers making blocks down the field or making guys miss himself. Making defenders miss in the open field is nothing new to Riddick, but on this play, he received terrific blocks down the field.
The first came from tight end Eric Ebron, who sealed off linebacker Sio Moore just long enough to allow Riddick to cut behind him and get to the outside left.
Riddick outruns Adams, the single-high safety, to the goal line and gets one more block from receiver Marvin Jones on cornerback Antonio Cromartie at the 2–yard line to spring him into the end zone
From there, Riddick powers his way into the end zone.
This play is terrific on a number of different levels:
- Stafford recognized the blitz pre-snap and got them into the right call.
- The initial blocks at the point of attack opened up a good hole.
- Decker showed his athleticism in getting to the second level and springing Riddick into the open field.
- Most big runs happen when backs get great downfield blocks from pass catchers. That was the case here with Ebron and Jones.
- Riddick showed his vision, speed and power all in one run.