Inside Johnny Manziel's Play of the Year

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Inside Johnny Manziel's Play of the Year
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama DE Jeoffrey Pagan and the Tide had Johnny Manziel on the run for much of the day, sometimes to their disadvantage.

Johnny Manziel has been compared to a lot of people and a lot of things. Eli Manning was not one of them.

Until now.

It's not exactly the Super Bowl, but Alabama vs Texas A&M is about as close as it gets in the Week 3 of the college football season. Last year the Aggies shocked the world and Johnny Manziel's magical performance boosted him to the Heisman Trophy. 

On this play, Manziel bobbled the ball and recovered in time to hit Ryan Swope in the back of the end zone and give the Aggies a three score lead on the Crimson Tide.

The play has become the stuff of legend in College Station and throughout college football. That was 2012. 

This was Saturday.

Manziel showed amazing escapability, reaction and poise in the above video. While calling the result of the play a little lucky would be fair, the result of the play isn't really the issue.

It was a special play that Manziel created out of what appeared to be a dire situation, recalling a certain play in the Super Bowl. Here's how it went down.

Taken before the snap, the screen shot below shows that the Aggies were lined up at the Alabama 34-yard line. The line of scrimmage is noteworthy when you see where Manziel would end up releasing the ball.

Alabama was showing pressure up the middle with two linebackers creeping up to the line of scrimmage. Defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan was lined up on Manziel's blind side, which came into play after the ball was snapped.

Here is Alabama bringing pressure with two linebackers rushing up the gut. They caused a big disruption in the middle, but what it really did was set off this wild play.

As a result of the pressure, Manziel rolled out to the backside to extend the play. When he rolled out, Manziel found Alabama defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan shedding his blocker and zoning in on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Manziel reacts by back-peddling all the way to midfield, which is where Pagan finally makes contact with the Aggies' quarterback.

The "X" in the photo shows the spot where Pagan made contact with Manziel. From the time he touched the Aggies' quarterback, he had a hand on him for the entire route of the dotted line in the photo.

At 6'4" and 290-pounds, Pagan has a huge advantage in size and strength over Manziel. What Manziel has is the advantage in creativity and athleticism, allowing what happened next to occur.

After he got free from Jeoffrey Pagan, Manziel had four of his Tide teammates to contend with.
Manziel managed to shake free of the grip and backed away from Pagan before turning back and reversing field at full speed as a rush of five Tide defenders closed in on him. 

After retreating to his own 40-yard line, Manziel fired a wild ball deep into coverage of his back foot.
In the photo above you can see that Manziel finally decides that he's run away from Alabama's defense enough for one play and lets it fly from his own 40-yard line. Keep in mind that the play started at Alabama's 34-yard line. Not only did Manziel shake free of a defensive lineman's grip, he stayed on his feet, gathered himself and ran until he was more than 25 yards behind the original line of scrimmage.

The rest? Well the pictures tell the rest of the story. The Aggies' huge wide receiver duo of Mike Davis and Edward Pope went up along with four Alabama defenders for the jump ball. In the photo below, you'll see who came away with the ball. With a name like that, he had to catch that ball, didn't he?

 In the end, the play turned into something that amounted to a mid-quarter "hail Mary" that was answered in a big way. It's better to be lucky than good, but having luck and skill never hurt anybody.

With #18 of Texas A&M involved in such a play, who else did you think would come up with a ball like that?  

 

 

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