Joe Flacco took a page out of the Peyton Manning playbook on Sunday when he faked out both teams on a naked bootleg from the 1-yard line for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.
Just like Manning did in 2013 against the Cowboys, Flacco kept the ball himself and coasted into the end zone while his offensive line blocked for what they assumed was a standard rushing play. You can see that nobody has any idea where the ball is, even as Flacco is celebrating on the left side of the end zone.
While Flacco has yet to confirm that he ran the bootleg on his own without telling his teammates, there are a couple of telling signs that this is exactly what happened.
The first is how the players are blocking. The fullback is driving his defender up the field, away from the pile, instead of away from Flacco. Also notice that one of the linemen (No. 71), instead of just blocking the player in front of him, he has pushed through to the second level in order to pin a linebacker away from the running lane, and again, towards where Flacco is running.
But the moment that really gives it away is at the end. As several of the offensive players are starting to stand up, they are looking towards the pile. They have no idea where the ball is.
Here’s the Manning TD run from 2013, for comparison:
Manning ran the same play for a touchdown in 2006. At the time he said, “See, the only way to run a naked bootleg is if you don’t tell anyone else, because everyone else runs the play and runs full speed.”
That’s some pretty elite trickery from Flacco!
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