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Steelers-Vikings play to watch: Twins left lead draw

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Steelers LT MikeAdams vs. Vikings DE Jared Allen

MATCHUP: The Steelers' offensive line has had a hard time protecting Ben Roethlisberger, and that's led to costly turnovers. Mike Adams has been a big part of that lack of protection. A week after he wasn't able to stop the Bears' Julius Peppers, Adams gets one of the premier defensive ends in the league in Jared Allen.


ADAMS: Adams, a second-round pick in 2012, was handed the starting left tackle job in the spring and has struggled. He is third in the league in allowing quarterback pressures with 11 and third in allowing quarterback hits through three weeks. Adams allowed five hurries last week while blocking Peppers and four more the week before to a combination of Bengals players.


ALLEN: Nobody has more sacks than Allen since 2004 (118), and the defensive end is just two years removed from setting a Vikings record with 22 sacks. Allen has two in three games this season and has had success pressuring quarterbacks as he ranks among the league leaders with seven hurries.

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Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 9:45 p.m.

In this age of zone blocking and read option in the NFL, the Vikings want nothing to do with them.

The Vikings are one of the few teams that have snubbed the latest trends and stuck to their old-school ways of being a power-run team.

With a running back the pedigree of Adrian Peterson, who can blame them?

Peterson rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season by using plays that were made popular in the league decades ago — the “Iso” — a play in which the fullback is required to make an isolation block on an inside linebacker.

The Vikings rarely stray from having Peterson in the I-formation with fullback Jerome Felton leading the way. Their definition of mixing things up is with their “twins left lead draw,” a play that has been around for decades but not made popular until Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys perfected it in the 1990s.

The lead draw is an isolation run but with draw-action principles.

The “Iso” is when the offense leaves the play-side linebacker free from other defenders so the fullback can make an isolation block. With the return of Pro Bowl fullback Felton from a three-game suspension, the “Iso” will be used plenty by the Vikings as well as the lead draw.

The lead draw is set just like an “Iso” but with the offensive line set in pass protection before executing the run.

The Vikings use the lead draw in a number of different ways but typically like to use a twins-left formation with Cordarrelle Patterson split wide and Greg Jennings in the slot. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is set to the strong right with Felton and Peterson lined up in an I-formation in the backfield.

At the snap, quarterback Matt Cassel will drop-step to the play side, reverse pivot and hand off to Peterson.

The blocking by the offensive linemen depends on the defensive front. In an odd-man front (3-4), the center (John Sullivan) and right guard (Brandon Fusco) double-team the nose tackle, with other linemen blocking the person directly in front of them.

The key block comes from the fullback, who must neutralize the linebacker. Peterson will follow the lead block of Felton to daylight.

“He is unquestionably the best in football,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Peterson. “Every time he touches it, he is capable of going the distance. He is an inside runner. He is an outside runner. He's combative. He has great hands. He is a man for all situations. We have a great deal of respect for him and what he is capable of.”

Peterson, who racked up 2,097 yards last season, already has 281 yards rushing this year, and plenty of that came on the lead draw.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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