I’ve been sidelined with a broken finger for what’s approaching two months, so I’ve been missing playing football a lot. I had to answer a What It’s Like question recently and I’m afraid my answer will not be used and I don’t want it to go to waste, so I’m posting it here.
What It’s Like To Burn A Defender For A Touchdown
At the line, you eye your defender off the line to see how they are playing you, if they are out of position, if they’re playing press coverage or if they are giving you cushion, if their feet are aligned improperly, whatever you can learn to give you an advantage. Next, you survey the rest of the defense: is the safety playing close or deep; to your side or the far side?
At the snap of the ball, you explode off the line, running straight at your defender. You look toward the middle of the field in order to trick him into thinking you’re running an inside route. Just before you think he’ll turn his hips to run with you, you make a sharp cut toward the sidelines, with your hands positioned as if ready to catch the ball.
Your quarterback pump-fakes to you, then you cut sharply up field and turn to look for the ball. As you do so, the defender says the two most beautiful words in football, “Oh shit.”
You see the ball arching through the air, high and long, and it’s taking forever to get to you. In full stride, you catch up to it, eyes tracking the ball over your right shoulder, arms stretching out before you. As the ball arrives, you position your hands beneath it, spread eagle, pinkie touching pinkie, and the ball settles into the palms of your hands as your fingers grip the leather to ensure the catch.
You bring the ball to your body, the far point against your elbow, your right index finger on the opposite tip. The ball secured, you focus on the end zone. You hear the footsteps of your defender behind you and he’s getting closer so you cut toward the middle of the field to break his angle. It works. He’s given up. And you’re home free for the final five yards as you cross the end zone.
You turn in the end zone, hand the ball to the referee, catch the eye of your quarterback and point to him in appreciation for the perfect throw.