When an Offensive Lineman (apart from the centre) ends up with the football in his hands, it usually means one thing. Something has gone disastrously wrong on an offensive play and the lineman has managed to recover a fumble. However, there are a few rare moments in the NFL season where teams throw in a special trick play and decide to declare an offensive lineman an “eligible receiver” giving one of the big boys a shot at glory by scoring a touchdown.
This doesn’t happen very often, but there’s nothing better than seeing a 250lb+ man taking the ball to the house leaving defences looking baffled and confused.
So here is a breakdown of all the offensive lineman Touchdown plays from the 2018 regular season;
Buffalo Bills‘ Dion Dawkins: Seven-yard touchdown catch
In the Buffalo Bills 41-10 blowout win over the New York Jets, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was able to dial up this little trick play.
First and goal from inside the red zone and already 17-0 up in the second quarter, the Bills declared left tackle Dion Dawkins (6’5” 320lbs) as eligible, something the defence must have overlooked!
The Bills lined up in a heavy formation with seven men on the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Matt Barkley (the Bills 4th starting quarterback of the season) snapped the ball and ran a play action pass, faking the hand off to running back LeSean McCoy.
Dawkins powered off the line of scrimmage, engaging a defender before quickly shedding the block and turning to look for the pass at about the three-yard line where he hauled in a perfectly placed pass from Barkley and continued completely untouched into the end zone for a touchdown, extending the Bills lead.
Detroit Lions‘ Taylor Decker: 11-yard touchdown catch
In the Detroit Lions’ 30-16 loss to the Los Angels Rams, left tackle Taylor Decker (6’7” 311lbs) had his chance for a moment in the sun, scoring his first ever touchdown.
The Lions were struggling against the powerhouse that is the Rams defence, but had regularly been running plays throughout the game with an extra eligible offensive lineman in the formation, but had not yet used the extra eligible man.
Midway through the third quarter on a 1st and 10 play with the Lions 16-6 down, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter must have noticed a flaw in the Rams defence he could expose and capitalise on by utilising this formation.
He sent on an extra lineman in rookie Tyrell Crosby and declared Decker as eligible. Matthew Stafford snapped the ball and threw a quick short pass into the left flat where Decker was wide open for the catch thanks to some great offensive line work, involving a quick block and go from Decker.
He ensured he looked in the pass and then rumbled 10 yards untouched straight into the end zone for the score, closing the gap between the two teams. In the heat of the moment, Decker launched the ball into the end zone, but later regretted his decision and took to Twitter to track down the fan who had the ball, which was later returned to Decker.
Chicago Bears‘ Bradley Sowell: two-yard touchdown catch
One of the more elusive plays on this list came from the Chicago Bears.
During a tough 15-6 victory for the Bears over the Los Angeles Rams, the one and only Bears touchdown came from backup offensive tackle Bradley Sowell (6’7” 309lbs).
Head coach Matt Nagy is no stranger to calling bold trick plays, having already given the ball to defensive lineman Akeem Hicks the previous week for a rushing touchdown.
This week was the offensive line’s time to shine.
Deep in the red zone, down by two early in the second half, Nagy called a heavy formation featuring three defensive linemen including Hicks in the backfield. The ball was snapped and quarterback Mitch Trubisky faked the handoff to Hicks, the defence bit hard on the play action (probably due to Hicks rushing touchdown the previous week), leaving Sowell wide open on a corner route to go up for the grab and haul it in for the score, leaving the Rams defence looking baffled.
Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Alejandro Villanueva: two-yard touchdown catch
My favourite offensive lineman touchdown of this season came from the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
What makes this play so special is the sheer boldness of the play calling. Down 10-3 and struggling offensively against the Broncos tough defence, featuring the likes of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, the Steelers brought on their field goal unit for a 4th down play in the redzone with two seconds left in the first half.
The 21-yard field goal attempt should have been a straightforward three points for kicker Chris Boswell, which would have closed the gap to 10-6 before halftime.
However, the Steelers were not willing to settle for the three points! The field goal unit lined up as normal, the ball was snapped, but directly into Boswell’s hands rather than to the holder. The right side of the line broke off letting the overexcited Broncos defenders into the backfield. The defence soon realised what was happening, but it was too late, all they could do was attempt to block Boswell’s quick pass straight into the hands of offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva (6’9” 320lbs) in the middle of the end zone for the score.
This bizarre and bold play injected new life and hope into a struggling Steelers offence, allowing them to tie things up at 10-10 before the half. What an electrifying play!
Let’s hope we get to see some more big boy touchdowns in the postseason.
With some of the high powered and tricky offences still alive in the NFL playoffs, maybe there’s more offensive line touchdowns still to come before the season is over!