For 59 minutes of gametime, the Denver Broncos as Cincinnati Bengals were playing like two teams who had zero preseason hype coming into the season, which is exactly what they were. A late touchdown gave Cincinnati the lead at 7-6, but it was long since clear that there would be no real winners from the game - most certainly not the fans.
Lucky for America, though, Gus Johnson was calling the game, and when Gus Johnson is on the mic, incredible things happen and Gus Johnson loses his s–t. So after the aforementioned touchdown, the Broncos were backed up to their own 13 yard line. And with Kyle Orton as the quarterback, so you know perfect passes weren’t exactly in the offing. And let’s start the video there, which you can watch below.
Ah, yes. That’s the good stuff. As you can plainly hear, Johnson’s head exploded during the play. He was 42 and he will be missed.
But we digress. 87 yards on a Hail Mary when the defense should have been playing to prevent a play exactly like that? Bungles you are now, Cincinnati, Bungles you have been, and Bungles you will be forevermore.
Also, this gets us wondering why the tip isn’t used more in situations like this. The defense would get eaten alive by coaches for playing to defend it instead of focusing every player on the intended receiver, and it has a history of working in spectacular fashion when a game is on the line. Here’s three more examples of it in action: two unintentional, one intentional.
Basketball: Valpo-Ole Miss, “Pacer”
Football, intentional: Northwestern-Minnesota, “Victory Right”
Football, unintentional: LSU-Kentucky, “Bluegrass Miracle”
See? It goes against a defense’s (and a receiver’s) best instincts to expect the ball to be intentionally tipped away from the point of contact. Again, not that Stokely’s miracle or LSU’s were intentional, but there’s a lot of potential in the misdirection of defense’s attention.
Obviously, it’s not easy to pull this off, and that there are now (as far as we know) four instances of the tip drill working out speaks to its efficacy. But hauling in a Hail Mary isn’t easy either, and for instances where the goal line is much farther than the quarterback’s arm allows, it’s either a tipped ball or nothing. We wonder if we’ll see it inserted into gameplans as a desperation play going forward.