The Steelers’ goal-line stand against the Jets in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game has been thoroughly discussed, but we should take a moment to mention the great analysis that NFL Network’s Playbook show had of those four plays, when the Jets started with first-and-goal from the 2-yard line and ended up getting stuffed on fourth-and-goal at the 1.
As Playbook demonstrated, the Jets were tipping their plays, especially when right tackle Wayne Hunter lined up in a two-point stance on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, all but telling Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley that it was a pass, not a run.
“On third-and-1, your right tackle’s in a two-point stance,” Playbook analyst Brian Baldinger said. “Right now, LaMarr Woodley knows you’re not running the ball. You’re not running the ball out of a two-point stance on the goal line. Right there, that’s a dead giveaway. LaMarr Woodley doesn’t charge he just plays the ball and bats it down.”
As our friend Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports has pointed out, the Playbook analysis did a perfect job of illustrating that Woodley looked at Hunter’s stance and immediately knew a pass was coming, and it was easy for Woodley to simply stand there at the line of scrimmage, put his hands up and knock the pass down.
Baldinger also pointed out that on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, there was a big hole in the middle of the Steelers’ defense — but only for a split-second, and by the time Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson got to the line of scrimmage, the hole was closed. Tomlinson, surprisingly, lined up seven yards behind the line of scrimmage on the play. If he had lined up five yards deep in the backfield, he might have gotten to the hole in time.
On a fourth-and-1 earlier in the same drive, the Jets had gone with an I-formation handoff up the gut to Shonn Greene, and Greene responded by plunging forward for two yards and a first down. Greene also picked up a yard on first-and-goal from the 2-yard line. But with three more tries to get one more yard, the Jets never went to Greene again, instead trying to get too cute with their play calling. The Steelers saw that coming all the way.