Film Room: Masthay-to-Crabtree

Dusty breaks down the Masthay-to-Crabtree TD in Week 2 of the 2012 season

It was 4th & 26.

Oh wait. Let me explain.

It was 4th & 26 but not that 4th & 26. It was week 2 of the 2012 season and the Packers were facing 4th & 26 at the Bears’ 27 yard line with 1:56 remaining in the first half. Neither offense looked great, with the Packers holding a 3-0 lead.

Being held scoreless to this point in the game is not what the Jay Cutler-led Bears were expecting. They added Brandon Marshall in the offseason, pairing him with rookie Alshon Jeffrey. Earlier in the week, Cutler wished the Packers secondary “good luck” attempting to match up with their receivers.

But Charles Woodson knew better than to believe in something like luck. No, Woodson put his belief in something a little more concrete: the fact that Jay Cutler would continue to be Jay Cutler.

The duo of Marshall and Jeffrey combined for 3 catches (on 7 targets) for 31 yards, while the Packers racked up 4 interceptions and 7 sacks (3.5 of those sacks came from the one-man wrecking crew that was Clay Matthews).

Let’s get back to the topic at hand. The Packers were up 3-0, facing 4th & 26 at the Bears 27 yard line with 1:56 remaining in the 1st half. Rather than kick the field goal, Mike McCarthy opted to go with a fake: a pitch from Tim Masthay to Tom Crabtree.

Aaron Rodgers referred to it as “a gutsy call. A gutsy call. You’ve got to score on that.”

Oddly enough, scoring was a secondary thought to McCarthy when he called for it. The impetus behind the call was to send a message to the team. After the game, McCarthy remarked, "frankly, I would have been fine with the field position.” Even if the attempt failed, the Bears would be, at best, 70 yards away from the end zone with less than 2 minutes remaining. Given how the offense looked up to that point, that would have been a tall order.

Is calling a fake field goal on 4th & 26 as a motivating tool a sign of genius, madness or something in between? That’s a question for the philosophers.

The Bears are slanting their rushers to the offensive left, which allows TJ Lang [70] and Josh Sitton [71] to turn in and seal off the inside. With Crabtree running from left-to-right, sealing off the inside is the biggest part of making this play a success.

Sealing off the inside leaves the Bears with only two defenders on the offensive right. The edge man is blocked out by Bryan Bulaga [75], putting Evan Dietrich-Smith [62] on the backpedaling defender. Dietrich-Smith handles him easily, but the Packers use Don Barclay [67] as a pulling guard, leading Crabtree through the hole. With the middle sealed and the two defenders on the edge blocked, Barclay clears the hole to find that he doesn’t have someone to block. So he helps out Dietrich-Smith.

Masthay flips the ball to Crabtree crossing under the line and Crabtree runs to daylight. This whole thing is beautiful.

From the other angle, you can see the effect Mason Crosby [2] had on this play. At the snap, Crosby releases away from the play side, That movement draws two defenders away from the scrum in the middle, as they’re looking for a fake going to Crosby. Obviously the thought of Mason Crosby – even a 28 year old version of Mason Crosby – rumbling and picking up 26 yards is laughable, but defenders still have their responsibilities. Those two defenders don’t matter at the time of attack, but the impact is certainly felt on the pursuit down the field.

It’s beautiful, man. I love Masthay on this play. Flips, takes a few steps and starts celebrating the touchdown when Crabtree is at the 23 yard line.

Look how happy he his. Pure joy in the background.

And he should be happy: he just became the first Packers punter to throw for a touchdown since Ron Widby threw one to Dave Davis in 1972.


Albums listened to: Lost in the Trees – A Church That Fits Our Needs; Call Me Constant – The Sun, The Moon, The Dark, The Dawn; Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself; The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten; The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania; Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes; Jessica Ripka – The Family Album; Melody’s Echo Chamber – Melody’s Echo Chamber

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Dusty Evely is a film analyst for Cheesehead TV. He can be heard talking about the Packers on Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter at @DustyEvely or email at [email protected].

7 points

Comments (7)

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 16, 2021 at 03:28 pm

Beautiful. Keep 'em coming.

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splitpea1's picture

June 16, 2021 at 03:50 pm

Great job retrieving this--these are the kinds of plays that spice the game up and make it fun to watch. Now the question is, can Scott (or his potential replacement) be trained to make this flip accurately? It's only about four yards. And is Drayton going to have the rest of his guys prepared to execute something like this?

Another great special teams play/TD from the punter came in the 2019 Dolphins--Eagles game (it's on YouTube). Check out that formation! Can you ever see the Packers trying something that exotic? As multi-talented as some of these players are, I'm really surprised that you don't see more of this type of thing across the league. I know it's a little chancy, but in the right circumstances (such as the one in this article), it can really pay off.

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Coldworld's picture

June 16, 2021 at 05:34 pm

It reminds me of how willing to take risks and how innovative early McCarthy could be. It’s why he was a good coach before he became locked into the “just beat your man” mindset after the first half of the decade. I don’t recall ever seeing that tried again.

Fun to see that again. Thank you!

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LeotisHarris's picture

June 16, 2021 at 06:13 pm

Watching The Puma race to the end zone, and hearing Charles say "same old Jay" made my day. It never gets old. Thanks, Dusty!

4 points
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malta1099's picture

June 16, 2021 at 07:37 pm

Another amazing gem! This play is pure joy. I don't know how you keep finding these....but please don't stop.

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Stroh's picture

June 16, 2021 at 10:07 pm

One of my favorite plays ever. And the Woodson sound bite is epic as well.

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RedRight49's picture

June 17, 2021 at 12:05 pm

That was really a great and memorable play and your diagrams of the line pulls and blocking schemes was excellent, Dusty!

That was a very well executed play and Crabtree made a great break and run through those well blocked defenders.

Mason Crosby was very convincing with his quick motion going away from the play and taking those defenders with him.

Thanks, enjoyed reliving and reviewing that super play!

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