The Connection that Never Was – EJ Manuel’s 42 yard TD to Robert Woods


In week four of the Buffalo Bills’ 2013 campaign, they squared off against the Baltimore Ravens in what was then Ralph Wilson Stadium. Early in the second quarter, the Bills were losing 6-7, and were in need of a big play. Looking to gain momentum, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett dials up a common passing concept seen in the NFL to beat a one-high defense. Who does he rely on to execute this play? Two rookies: EJ Manuel and Robert Woods.

Similar to the ‘Dagger ‘concept, the ‘Post-Drag’ route combination involves a vertical route combined with an underneath route, designed to put the single-high, free safety in a bind.

The Bills’ offense lines up in a tight bunch formation, utilizing 21 personnel (two backs, one tight end, two wide receivers). The Ravens’ defense attempts to show two-high, but due to the weak side linebacker blitzing, the strong safety has to roll down to accommodate for the missing linebacker. The result is a one-high defense, which is exactly what the Bills need for this play to be successful.

On the snap of the football, EJ Manuel opens up play side and fakes the weak side zone to running back Tashard Choice. He continues through the fake and sets up behind the original alignment of the offensive tackle. His eyes immediately find the free safety.

EJ finds the free safety and moves him by staring down the drag route underneath the post. The free safety takes the bait, allowing the post to open up behind him.

A clean pocket allows Manuel to hitch up and deliver a beautiful deep pass right into the hands of Robert Woods, resulting in a 42-yard Touchdown.

Rylan Pangborn is a college quarterback at Kean College in New Jersey. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @pangborn_11

Sophomore Quarterback at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. Born and raised in East Aurora, New York. Quarterback instructor - Coach Lenape Valley Regional High School Graduate