The Cleveland Browns were able to defeat the high-flying Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, by a score of 33 to 31. Not only was this victory one of their best of the 2023 season, but it was one of the most exciting and impressive come-from-behind wins of Kevin Stefanski’s tenure as head coach.
The entire team seemed to be playing with a chip on their shoulder, and it showed by the way each player fought for extra yardage on offense and consistently made “hustle” plays on defense throughout the entire game.
While QB Deshaun Watson’s dazzling overall performance in the second half was incredible, TE David Njoku made a big gain on a simple pass play that stole the hearts of the Cleveland faithful during the 4th quarter. This play provided a motivational spark that helped facilitate the spectacular comeback win:
The play itself is simple and a fairly common design at the NFL level. The “Stick” concept usually involves three main components on the play side of the formation:
- A receiver running an “out” route into the flat.
- A receiver running a vertical route down the sideline.
- A receiver, usually a tight end (“Y” in the diagram), running a “Stick” route inside.
The player running the out-breaking route in the flat is attempting to pull or force the overhang defender, or whatever defender is assigned to him, away from the middle of the field. The player running the vertical route is attempting the clear out the outside corner by carrying him downfield.
The tight end runs a 5-7 yard “Stick” and then turns around when he gets to his spot. Njoku now has two options on what he can do based on the defensive coverage:
- If the defense is playing zone coverage, he’s most likely going to stay put and sit in the vacated pocket left by the dropping linebacker.
- If the defense is playing man coverage, then he’ll start drifting toward the sideline in an attempt to create separation.
On this play, Njoku correctly diagnosed the coverage and sat in the empty pocket that was created when Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith dropped into coverage. He then proceeded to either break the tackles of or carry approximately five Baltimore defenders another 15 yards before going down.
This play epitomizes the way that this year’s team is performing. They’re playing with an attitude and seem to possess a “won’t back down” mentality that is providing extra motivation to both the team and fanbase alike.
What was your favorite play from Sunday’s game? Join fellow Browns fans in the comment section below.