Okay, I'm going to try something out with the blessing of JTE. In every game there are five or so key plays that alter the course of the game that are not readily apparent at the time. For example, everyone knows that Jones to Stills for the long TD was the key play of the game, but how did OU get in such a position to throw the deep ball? We all know the INTs by Harris and Wort were crucial, but was there something more on one of those INTs that changed the outcome of the game? I think so, and below are my five key plays you may not remember from OU/FSU that changed the outcome of the game and weren't obvious when they happened that they might change the outcome of the game.
More after the jump!
Key play #1 - It's the first quarter and OU's opening drive. It's 3rd and 3 from the FSU 13. Landry throws a screen pass to Broyles about two yards behind the line of scrimmage. Broyles, however, is hit and wrapped up approximately a yard or so before the first down marker. Broyles lunges forward and stretches the ball for a first down. This has become such a routine play by Broyles that we forget how rare of a talent he is. This play not only showed his physical ability, but, more importantly, it shows the high football IQ of Broyles.
Why was this play so important? Because it allowed OU to pick up a first down on the FSU 10 or 11. A few plays later, Landry uses the underutilized QB sneak for OU's first TD. OU up 7-0. Who knows if Jimmy would have made the 27 or 28 yard field goal had Broyles not gotten the first down. FSU, at the very least, would have had a moral victory of sorts by holding OU to 3.
Key play #2
With about 1:25 left in the second quarter, EJ throws his second pick. Everyone is well aware of the significance of the interception and how it cost FSU points, field position, and gave OU the opportunity to score. But the key part of this play is that Javon Don't-Come-Over-The-Middle-Or-I'll-Destroy-You Harris is eventually tackled at the FSU 3 yard line. Had Harris scored, it's 17-3, the crowd is silent, and FSU goes into half knowing that they have to score TWO TDs just to TIE OU. If OU scores at any point in the second half before FSU, it's automatically a 3 possession game. Who knows how that would have turned out.
Anyways, this play was so critical because FSU ended up holding OU to, I hate to say this, another FG inside the red zone. Being down 13-3 at half is much better than 17-3. Don't let the marginal difference of 4 points confuse you. Credit the amazing hustle and toughness of the FSU players to fight and bring Harris down short of the goal line.
Key play #3
I'm going to cheat here and use two plays because they happened back to back. If, like me, you're mystified and utterly perplexed at the special teams' failures of recent OU teams, you were probably worried about the opening kickoff. Okay, so maybe only the Negative Nancy's like JTE and me were worried about a kickoff return for a TD. Anyways, Austin Haywood makes a ferocious tackle on an undersized FSU kickoff returner. Although Haywood was flagged for 15 yards and a personal foul (not sure I agree with that call), it was a statement hit -- OU was ready for a street fight in the second half. The next play was simply amazing. FSU just got a 15 yard gift, decent field position to start the second half, and the crowd is clamoring for something to cheer about. EJ hands off to the left and Casey Walker explodes behind the line and tackles the RB for a loss of 9. Not only did OU almost recover the 15 yards they had just given up on the penalty, but they put FSU in a difficult 2nd and 19. Moreover, the entire defense was fired up after seeing such an amazing play. Mr. Walker, however, was quickly pulled to the bench for doing a shimmy or two. I loved seeing Travis Lewis run up to him and hold his hands up and say "Slow down, take it easy."
Key play #4
With 5:57 left in the 3rd, FSU has the ball just shy of the 50. It's 3rd and 2. EJ slips while trying to pitch the ball to a RB. The Hammer runs through a wide open gap and takes down the RB for no gain. It's 4th down and FSU, after moving the ball with some success, now has to punt. Who knows what happens if FSU picks up that first down? They only had to gain another 10-15 yards to be in FG range for their awesome kicker (I want one of those). Huge, huge stop on 3rd down by The Hammer.
Key play #5
This is definitely the biggest key play of the five. It's the 4th quarter and there is 7:19 left. FSU just pulled off an improbable play on 3rd and 28 to score the game tying touchdown. The crowd is going bonkers. My brand new Toshiba 55'' LED flat-screen TV was in danger of being smashed by the remote control in my hand. Hope was lost. OU was going to lose on the road. FSU finally had life. FSU had just taken Broyles down for a small loss on the play before. The crowd could sense victory!
Not so fast... Landry, despite facing intense pressure from two FSU defenders to his left, takes the snap and drops back 3-4 steps. Landry sees Broyles down the field. Landry is about to get drilled by the two defenders, but, like the honey badger, Landry doesn't give a s***. Landry calmly STEPS UP into the pocket, PLANTS his feet, and fires a missile to Broyles for a 22 yard gain. The crowd is stunned. Broyles found space between FOUR FSU defenders playing a soft zone. Why is this play so important? Yup, you guessed it. The very next play was the pump-fake deep ball to Stills for 7. The Jones to Stills catch NEVER happens if "Old Landry" appears. Landry did NOT get happy feet, throw off his back foot, or fall down. He stayed poised and made an incredible throw in a very difficult environment. That play was the epitome of progression and maturity for Landry. He simply does not make that play two years ago and probably doesn't make that throw until the last 3 or 4 games of the season. It was simply clutch and obviously sealed the Sooner victory.