How Ross Cockrell and the Panthers were ready for Houston's trick play


CHARLOTTE -- The Texans thought they had the perfect play dialed up, but boy did it backfire.

In last Sunday's game, Houston was at the Carolina 18-yard line when head coach Bill O'Brien dialed up a WR pass for DeAndre Hopkins. It was a play the Texans had to feel good about after seeing the Giants use a nearly identical play for an explosive touchdown in Week 5 of the 2018 season.

Here's another look at that 2018 play below, when wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. connected with running back Saquon Barkley for the score:

Cornerback Ross Cockrell remembered that play. He said it ran through his head when the Texans threw what looked like a screen pass to Hopkins.

"The only thing I could think about was Odell (Beckham) and Saquon (Barkley) from last year," Cockrell said.

Last year against the Giants, the Panthers were in a 3-4 look and linebacker Jermaine Carter was the backside defender on the play. Safety Mike Adams covered the tight end and Carter's eyes took him toward Beckham, leaving a wide open space for Barkley to run into.

This year against the Texans, the Panthers were in their nickel look with four down linemen. Safety Eric Reid was down in the box with the linebackers. Cockrell was the backside defender and he was initially running with the tight end, which is what Deshaun Watson said the Texans wanted. But Cockrell, remembering what the Giants did, reversed course as soon as Hopkins pulled up. As you can see, he was waiting for the pass to Hyde.

Head coach Ron Rivera was on high alert for this play. He showed the team an example of the Texans running that exact play against the Bills last year (it fell incomplete). The Texans tested Cockrell and he had the answer.

"The backside stayed disciplined. Didn't squeeze, didn't come, get into the wrong pursuit," Rivera said. "Ross (Cockrell) was where he needed to be, and then he saw the guy leaking out of the backfield so he was able to roll with him. Again, that's how you're supposed to play it. And they ran the same play last year (against Buffalo). We found it, and we showed it to the defensive guys just so they know."

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