All the offensive playbooks in the NFL have their small tweaks and tinkerings. However, there are four plays that have been prominent in Super Bowl successes.
These might be some simple plays, but teams practice them so they can easily get positive yards without issues. In the NFL, if teams master the plays that are quite elementary, they are going to succeed with the ones that are fancier.
Here are four plays (three with a second version) that have been favored in past Super Bowls.
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1. Power-O Strong
One of the favorite running plays is the Power-O, a simple show of strength.
The Power-O is what professionals refer to as an “attitude” or “intimidating” play. One where the offense basically attempts to outmuscle the opposition. Survival of the strongest.
Back in Super Bowl XX, happening after the 1985 season, the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Chicago Bears drew the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots. It wasn’t supposed to be a close game, and indeed it wasn’t one.
The Bears at the time had one of the strongest running games of their era, so they relied on the Power-O Strong to bully a weak New England defensive line. Coach Mike Ditka designed his offense in a way to pinpoint the mismatches. Some guy named Walter Payton–he didn’t score in the Super Bowl–led a team that went 15-1 during the season,
Chicago had four rushing touchdowns in the 46-10 rout of New England in New Orleans.
2. Iso Weak
Iso Weak is a basic play where the fullback creates a big hole to escort the running back, thus cutting right through the defense. Similar to the previous play, the Iso Weak is a head-on run through the defense. The difference is this play relies on agility instead of strength. Before the play was given this name, the Cleveland Browns used their own version to win the title in 1964.
Led by Jim Brown (27 carries, 114 yards) Cleveland took advantage of a slow Baltimore Colt defensive. Baltimore had to respect Brown and the run. Frank Ryan and Gary Collins were the beneficiaries, quarterback and receiver connecting five times (130 yards, three touchdowns). Cleveland hasn’t won a title since that 27-0 shutout in Baltimore.
3. and 4. SB PA Overflow & SB SA Pick and Rollout
Coming into modern days, these two plays are about the same. They were used by the Kansas City Chiefs in their recent Super Bowl 54 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The lineman in the PA Overflow actually run a blocking scheme in order to sell a run that fakes right, ultimately finishing with a run through the left.
Mahomes was incredible running this play. He decoyed the handoff, and then looked at three options running through both sides. What makes this important as a play is its simplicity, a mere fake to confuse everyone on the defense.
Going into our second play, the PA Pick & Rollout, it was an action that ultimately finished in a touchdown. This will forever be remembered as the single set that helped the Chiefs achieve their second Super Bowl victory in the history of the franchise.
Through a Shotgun Split Back in the Red Zone, the Chiefs once again decided to run a fake before sending Super Bowl MVP Mahomes on an unexpected rollout to the right.
What was the twist to this play was the “pick” route by tight end Travis Kelce. That did its job to create a diversion. Mahomes was able to run inside, leaning inside toward the mass of defenders, essentially negating any pressure at him.
Mahomes simply threw the ball over the oncoming blitzing defender, into the hands of his receiver out of the backfield.
As a whole, these two plays started a new “fake” era. Teams will look to become part-time actors when devising their playbooks.