Two weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. It wasn’t particularly close — the 37-20 game was much more out of hand than the 17-point margin made it look — but the Packers did something that would cost the 49ers dearly in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
In the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship, Packers wide receiver Davante Adams was matched up in single-coverage against Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman. Adams used a magnificent inside move off the line of scrimmage, beating Sherman quickly and then using his speed to outrace him to a deep over-the-shoulder catch. That 65-yard play set up a Packers touchdown, which pulled them within 14 points.
But on Sunday night, in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV, Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins used an eerily similar move to beat Sherman deep once again. Only this time, Watkins’ play came with the Chiefs down just three points and set up a go-ahead touchdown three plays later, giving Kansas City a 24-20 lead that they would not relinquish.
Here’s a look at the two plays by these two receivers:
Two weeks ago, Davante Adams burned Richard Sherman in the NFC Championship using a quick jab to the right off the line.— Cole Topham (@HamAnalysis) February 3, 2020
Sammy Watkins used the same release and route in the #SuperBowl to put the Chiefs within scoring distance. pic.twitter.com/dOWKu2xWPV
Those releases look awfully similar, do they not? And lest one think that this was just a coincidence or that this move was one that Watkins had in his back pocket all along, he credited Adams by shouting him out by name during a post-game interview:
You called it @AaronNagler. @tae15adams showed the way for Watkins. pic.twitter.com/jcb4PtnaI3— Michael Klinck (@Michael_Klinck) February 3, 2020
Adams didn’t do enough to get his team to the Super Bowl, though that was not for a lack of trying — he caught nine passes for 138 yards in the NFC Championship. But much of that came in garbage time with the Packers already down several scores. Indeed, his most meaningful blow to San Francisco’s title hopes came in showing Watkins how to get open deep up the right side against Sherman.