NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans saw the perfect front for an exotic piece of their exotic smash-mouth offense on Sunday.
So rather than try to convert a third-and-1 with a straight-ahead handoff, they looked for a chunk play Sunday at Nissan Stadium against the Minnesota Vikings.
On third-and-1 from the from the Minnesota 44-yard line, the Titans were two-back in I formation, with a tight end tight to each tackle. Harry Douglas, the lone wide receiver, started on the left, then motioned across and set behind the right tackle.
The Vikings countered with four down lineman, safety Andrew Sendejo standing up near the left end, cornerback Terrence Newman within five yards of the line of scrimmage at the left defensive hashmarks and three linebackers crowding behind the linemen.
When Douglas motioned, cornerback Trae Waynes moved away, settling four yards off the line of scrimmage, between the numbers and hashmarks on the defensive right.
“It wasn’t a fake fumble,” Mularkey said. “It was a play-action, for sure. That’s got the potential -- because I’ve been running that play for a long time, I haven’t run it in probably five, six years -- that has big-play potential, and it’s really based on one front. You may not see that front in an entire year. I haven’t seen it in two years.
“So when you get the front and you have the potential for a big play, that’s what we are looking for. You have the potential for a big play, that play’s scored touchdowns from a long distance out. We were looking for a big play against a front that is vulnerable to that play.”
Why didn’t it work?
Well Waynes read it very well, slid through and made initial contact with Henry five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, grabbing him by the ankles and ultimately dropping him for a 1-yard loss.
“A linebacker sniffed it out pretty well,” Mularkey said. “And again we had a hat on him with (Jalston) Fowler. I said that this morning with our coaching staff. If you had Derrick Henry out on a corner -- and we had blocked everybody that we can, you’re always going to have one defender left -- would you put Derrick Henry on a corner, out on the perimiter? Absolutely.
"Well that’s what he had. He had a corner on the perimeter. You’ve got to get a yard. We had everybody blocked except for one guy. That’s the case in most cases. Those guys are responsible for that extra defender."
The high lateral from Marcus Mariota that made Henry leap “possibly” made it harder for Henry, Mularkey said.
Mularkey pointed to the play's success when he was with the Bills.
Buffalo ran it against the Seahawks on Nov. 28, 2004 and Willis McGahee scored a 30-yard touchdown.