Last week, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan saw something in the Patriots’ defense that caused him believe they were susceptible to a trick play. The quarterback would take the snap, hand it off to the running back, who would run to the right side of the field. He would then flip it to the receiver, who would run an option to the left and either keep it or throw it.
All he needed was a speedy, left-handed receiver that could get the ball downfield.
And that’s pretty much exactly what it was supposed to look like.
“We practiced it a couple of times this week–probably four or five times,” Banks said after the game. “They played around with me throwing it, but it was a joke at first. This week it was kinda serious though, obviously.”
So serious, in fact, that it gave the Redskins their first lead of the game, and broke franchise marks for the longest pass by a non-quarterback, ever.
“We put him in there for one reason: to throw, and he’s left-handed,” said head coach Mike Shanahan. “We just didn’t want to put him in there for one play. We put him in there on another play–a running play–so it didn’t look like it was some type of reverse.
“And then he did run it, he did a great job of cutting to the left and making a play,” he assessed.
“I got my number called and we executed,” Banks said.
Part of that execution was actually a tremendous block by quarterback Rex Grossman. After handing the ball off to Roy Helu, Grossman turns fullback, bouncing wide of the line to set up a block. Patriots defensive end Andre Carter gave rookie offensive tackle Willie Smith a fight, and Smith couldn’t seal the edge for Banks.
Grossman engaged Carter, pushed him back, and bought his receiver the time he needed to play quarterback on the play.
The blocking of Smith and Grossman together game Banks confidence on the run.
“It wasn’t too hard, I was watching the corner and safety,” he said. “If they took any steps at me, I was watching to make sure I could make a play.”
Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo discussed how difficult a play with Banks’s ability can be on defense–not even taking into account that he can throw the ball.
“You just don’t see that,” he said after the game. “With Banks getting the ball on that reverse, or whatever, you think he’s gonna run it because of his speed. All of a sudden he’s throwing the ball downfield and the guy’s wide open.
“I mean, that was a huge play for us.”
This play was just the latest step towards validation for a guy that went undrafted last year, played injured for most of his rookie season, battled for his job in training camp, and lobbied to be used on offense all season. He is underestimated.
And now he’s validated: