Ed. Note: The Houston Texans ran this play on Sunday Night Football against the New England Patriots, with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins dramatically flipping the ball to quarterback DeShaun Watson for a touchdown in the Texans' win. After the game, Watson said the inspiration for the play came from the one the Bears ran in 2017. Here's the story behind that play, and how it actually began with the Bears' former offensive coordinator watching tape as a freshman in college nearly two decades ago.
Dowell Loggains knew he wanted to coach his whole life, so back in 1995 — his freshman year of high school — he started keeping a notebook of plays he recorded on video tapes (remember those?). One of those plays he wrote down happened in 2000, while Loggains was a freshman at the University of Arkansas.
With the ball on the Green Bay Packers’ 2-yard line, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King handed the ball off to running back Warrick Dunn. Dunn then handed off to fullback Mike Alstott, who was running in the opposite direction. Alstott was met by a Packers defender, but flipped a pitch back to King, who caught it at the five-yard line and bolted into the end zone.
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That play, designed by former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Les Steckel, was the inspiration behind the two-point conversion play the Bears ran Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings. While Loggains was with the Tennessee Titans, head coach Mike Munchak lived next door to Steckel, and the Titans hired Steckel’s son in an offensive quality control role.
“I got to meet coach Steckel one day," Loggains said. "We go to Easter with (former Titans offensive coordinator) Chris Palmer, Mike Munchak and Les Steckel and his wife. I had this notebook and I said, ‘Coach, I’ve got to ask you about this one play, You ran it 13 years ago.’ He called it doughnut.
“… So I’ve always had this play, as a coaching staff upstairs, we had this play. But you’ve got to have Zach Miller. You gotta have a tight end or a Mike Alstott that you trust with the ball-handling. So it’s just an option play off that. That’s where the play came from.”
Miller is a former college quarterback who joked that he made the switch to tight end “because the option was my best pass,” so he was a perfect fit for the play. The Bears ran it in training camp and were holding on to it for the right situation — which also had to be with Mitchell Trubisky as the quarterback.
Calling for the play in such a critical situation, with the Bears down by two midway through the fourth quarter, took some guts. But the Bears were confident in the design and their ability to execute the play — “there was a little smile going into the huddle, we were like we’re going to score and tie the game right here,” Trubisky said.
The play worked to perfection, just like it did 17 years ago at Lambeau Field. Loggains wasn’t going to pat himself on the back for the innovative design — but he should thank his 20-year-old self for writing down that play.
“Coach Les Steckel deserves all the credit for it,” Loggains said. “We just installed it 17 years later.”