I've asked the same question every man, woman and radio host in Jacksonville has been asking for days.
In breaking down the final seconds of the game, it becomes clear how just one small mistake by one player can ruin a week for an entire team.
The Vikings' comeback had three components. First, there was the kickoff. As Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union argued this morning, the Jaguars essentially traded 11 yards for six seconds off the clock by not getting the touchback.
I'm inclined to agree with his point of view that it was a good trade. Consider it like this, had the Vikings run three six-second plays and picked up 11 yards on each, they would have been at the 47 yard-line with two seconds on the clock. That would have been better than what actually happened.
Josh Scobee gets a pass.
Obviously, the big play was the long throw from Christian Ponder to Devin Aromashodu. How did the Jaguars allow a 26-yard throw in that circumstance?
At the line of scrimmage, you can see the Jaguars have lined up in a Cover-2 shell. The linebackers have been replaced with defensive backs, but the principle is the same. Note that safety Dawan Landry is playing what is essentially the left outside linebacker position. Rashean Mathis is guarding Devin Aromashodu off the line of scrimmage.
Finally, Chris Posinski is playing deep safety.
As the receivers break downfield, note how the stand-in linebackers play their men differently. Landry is still protecting the middle of the field, while his counterpart on the right has moved over to pick up the receiver streaking by just outside the hash marks.
This may well have been Landry's responsibility to stay put and hold the middle of the field, but it certainly looks like he's simply late getting over. Without knowing his assignment, we can't be sure.
The third frame may provide a clue. Mathis abandons Aromashodu to pick the player coming up out of the flat. Landry still hasn't budged off his boundary marker on the hash. It's interesting to note how differently the Jaguars are covering the right side of the field versus the left side.
This is what leads me to believe Landry has blown his assignment.
When Mathis passes off Aromashodu, there's no one there to pick him up.
The fourth shot shows the play from Ponder's perspective. Again, you see the corner passing the wideout on the left off to the deep linebacker, but on the right, all you see is Landry standing by himself. Aromashodu and Mathis are off screen. Landry is guarding air.
Finally, you see the ball arrive with Aromashodu all alone.
There are three possibilities in assigning blame on this play. The first, and in my opinion most likely, is that Landry screwed up. He failed to pick up his assignment.
The second, is that Mathis failed in passing off Aromashodu. It's possible that Landry was meant to cover the middle for the late-releasing players out of the backfield and Mathis should have stayed with his man.
The third is that everyone did what they were supposed to, and it was just an awful defensive call. Based on the behavior of the players on the other side of the field, I doubt this.
Where I do question the defensive design is on the penultimate play of regulation. Ponder hit tight end Kyle Rudolph for six yards. With only seven seconds on the clock, the Jaguars played exceedingly soft, essentially surrendering the yardage without a fight.
Given the time left, I question if the Vikings would have been able to get as deep as the Jaguars were playing. Landry is positioned 12 yards off the line of scrimmage.
Essentially, the Jaguars' coaches dared Minnesota to hit a 55-yard field goal to tie, and the Vikings duly obliged.
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