There are so many plays during a game that add up to either winning or losing.
Each play is important, but it’s rare to get ready for the snap knowing the results of this single play will be the difference between a brutal loss and an emotional win.
Yet that’s exactly what happened on Sunday as the Bolts held firm at the goal line on a two-point conversion, denying the Titans from taking a lead with less than 30 seconds remaining. The Titans had just scored on 4th-and-goal from the one to make it 20-19. Instead of going for the tie, they rolled the dice and went for two.
Marcus Mariota took the snap and surveyed the scene, but the Chargers covered it perfectly. He looked in the back of the end zone and fired it over the middle, but Adrian Phillips was there to bat it away. The pass actually took the veteran safety by surprise as he was expecting the quarterback to make a run for it.
The play itself may have seemed like a blue, but Phillips is able to recall it in vivid detail.
“We were in one of our base coverages that Gus (Bradley) loves to call any time we need a win (on defense),” he said. “They started on the empty left with Dion Lewis out there. We made a check, he jet motioned to the right, we had to make another check and everybody did their job. Mariota was looking around. I really expected him to scramble, but he didn’t. He was just looking around and I was trying to get him to throw it.”
He did, and the rest was history.
A massive celebration followed, centered mainly around AP.
“I saw AP hit the ball, I just looked up at the sky, and I just thanked God,” said Denzel Perryman. “It was incredible. It was a long game. It was a dogfight, but just seeing all the excitement, guys are basically running 100-yard sprints running onto the field to celebrate. Man, it was a great feeling.”
There are so many plays over the course of a football game that add up to a win or loss. But it’s rare for both teams to know the single play that will ultimately decide their fate.
It’s as high-pressure of a situation as there is in the NFL, yet Head Coach Anthony Lynn wasn’t sweating it a bit.
He had all the confidence in the world.
“We have those got to-have-it situations in practice, where it's 4th-and-1, 4th-and-inches, and we practice those situations,” he said. “Those guys mentally, they've been there before. But they have a saying, they protect every inch, and they really do. … Our defense, you know, they bend but they never break. Even when they got in on the touchdown, I didn't think they would convert. Once again, you got an interception down there in the red zone, tight read. They protect every inch.”
Lynn wasn’t the only one with confidence as the defense also fully expected to get the game-sealing stop.
After all, they prepare all year long for moments like this.
All those OTA sessions in the spring. Those grueling reps in the dog days of camp. The countless hours spent watching tape and breaking down film.
They are all done for moments like this one.
“It’s so cliché, but it shows what hard work and preparation can do,” Phillips explained. “It really shows how if you believe in one another, if you truly believe in one another, you can really get the job done. It’s so beautiful. You see everybody in here jumping around. The defense jumping with the offense. This is the most connected team that I’ve ever been on. This shows it, and I love it.”
While AP gets the lion’s share of praise, the safety was quick to share the credit with the other 10 men on the field.
“We won the game as a team,” he said. “(The media) keeps coming up to me saying I won it, but I don’t think I won it. If anybody was in that position, they would’ve made that play. Everybody did their job. (Mariota) was looking around, and it just happened to come down to me. If I would’ve missed it, Mike Davis was right behind me and would’ve tipped it. It was a great overall play by the entire team.”
Browse through the top game action photos as the Bolts take on the Titans at Wembley Stadium in London for Week 7.