McMackin recalls the last time the Seahawks and Broncos met, on Oct. 11. Denver led 21-16 with less than two minutes left but was facing a third-and-three at its own 25. "We tried an all-out blitz, with everyone just selling out," says McMackin. "We had to get the ball back. It was do or die, and we died. He broke a 70-yarder."
49ers' Quick Slant
The Los Angeles Rams were in good shape. In a December 1989 battle for the NFC West lead, they had a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead over the San Francisco 49ers, and they had the ball on the Niners' four-yard line. Then the Rams fumbled, and San Francisco recovered.
"Watch the quick slant," Los Angeles defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur phoned down from the coaches' box. Niners wideout John Taylor had already burned the Rams for a 92-yard score on Joe Montana's patented quick slant, a play that should have gone for five yards. Shurmur hung up the phone just in time to watch Montana to Taylor on, yes, the quick slant, this time for 95 yards. San Francisco went on to win the game 30-27 and clinch the division title.
Here's a tip: If you want to talk football with Shurmur, who now coordinates the Green Bay Packers' defense, do not—repeat, do not—mention the quick slant. "You think I've forgotten about it? Well, I haven't" Shurmur said recently. "The cornerback falls down on one of them, we miss a couple of tackles on the other. I've had 1,000 nightmares about that play. A five-yard gain, at best, winds up blowing open a tight game."
Everyone has the quick slant, but defenders don't fear it when other teams run it. Montana to Taylor or Jerry Rice? Steve Young to Rice, Terrell Owens or J.J. Stokes? That's another matter. It's a trademark of the Bill Walsh concept of throw short, run long: precise timing and a big receiver who can dwarf a cornerback, break his tackle and then get downfield in a hurry.
How do you stop it? Well, you start by drafting bigger corners. Rice, Owens and Stokes are 6'2", 6'3" and 6'4", respectively. "The classic mismatch," says the Bills' Smith. "If you don't have three defensive backs who can match up, too bad for you. Get a bigger one next year."
But how do you really stop it? "The biggest thing is making the tackle," says Campo. "Then you have to work real hard with your corners on quick recognition and getting a good jump, getting inside on the slant lanes. The problem is that the 49ers can get to the slant in a lot of different ways, and they can run a lot of stuff off it."
"The scariest part of the play," New York Jets assistant head coach Bill Belichick says, "is the Sluggo adjustment. If the cornerback jumps inside to stop the slant, the receiver just takes off downfield on a go pattern. Slant plus go equals Sluggo."