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CloakNNNdagger
06-17-2012, 09:29 PM
This weekend, I coincidentally had 2 different people who call themselves historically knowledgeable concerning football tell me that they really didn't know what exactly was the Stagger Lee that Glanville called in the Oilers-Broncos game. This is by far not the only time that I've been asked about it. So I have decided to post this article for anyone who is interested in one of the most painful and forgettable plays of the Oiler era.


Los Angeles Times

PRO FOOTBALL: THE PLAYOFFS : Oilers Roll Snake Eyes : Glanville, Houston Blow It All on First Hand and Then Lose Big to Broncos

January 11, 1988|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

DENVER You're Jerry Glanville, coach of the Houston Oilers. Most of your players are in the playoffs for the first time. You're playing against the team with the best record in the American Football Conference, the Denver Broncos, in Mile High Stadium, where all but a few brave souls among the 76,188 are screaming for you to lose.

Your players were jittery before the game. Overconfidence isn't going to be one of your problems today. To make matters worse, your offense has the ball for the first time on its own five-yard line, at the enclosed end of the stadium, which is filled with orange-clad Broncomaniacs. It is about as quiet as the Persian Gulf.

What play do you call?

Remember that you have two hard-running backs, Mike Rozier and Alonzo Highsmith, and an offensive line that has only one man under 275 pounds. Seven days before, in a wild-card game against Seattle, the fullback, Highsmith, averaged 6.2 yards a carry.

What did Glanville call?

He sent his quarterback, Warren Moon, onto the field with two plays to be run without a huddle in between, thinking he could catch the Broncos off guard.

On first down, Highsmith tried to run up the middle and lost one yard. Facing second down and 11 from the four, the Oilers lined up hurriedly in a spread formation that looked like something out of the United States Football League. Both tackles, Bruce Davis and Dean Steinkuhler, and tight end Jamie Williams lined up about 15 yards to the left of the ball, in front of Rozier, who was behind the line of scrimmage.

While the Broncos scurried around, trying to decide whether they should laugh or call time out, Moon threw the ball to Rozier, who had stepped two yards back into his own end zone.

The play is called Stagger Lee, named for an old country blues song about gamblers.

Before we proceed, perhaps we should explain about Stagger Lee. He lost his money and his Cadillac to somebody named Billy in a card game, then went home to get his .44. When he returned, Billy pleaded for Stagger Lee not to shoot. Billy said he had a wife and two kids. "You'll see them in heaven," Stagger Lee said.

In Sunday's game against the Broncos, Stagger Lee fired the pistol and shot himself in the foot.

Moon's pass, which actually was a lateral because he threw it back to Rozier, bounced off Rozier's shoulder pads and fell to the ground at the Houston one-yard line. Officially a fumble, and Denver cornerback Steve Wilson recovered.

Two plays later, the Broncos scored the game's first touchdown on their way to a 34-10 victory that sends them into next Sunday's American Football Conference championship game here against Cleveland.

"It does seem stupid to throw a lateral pass in that situation," Denver nose tackle Greg Kragen said. "But that's Glanville for you."

Glanville, a respected defensive coordinator before he became a head coach, does not have a reputation as a gifted play caller. In fact, his reputation is the opposite.

But he defended the lateral.

So his did players, loyal to the bitter end.

If the result had been different, they might have had a case. The Broncos' defensive coordinator, Joe Collier, said he was tipped off early last week about the play by someone he wouldn't identify. Speculation is that the unnamed intelligence agent is Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll, who is hardly a Glanville fan. Before Sunday, the Oilers ran the play only three times this season, all against the Steelers. On each occasion, it worked for a significant gain.

So the Broncos said they were ready for the play.

When they look at the films today, they will see that they were not. In trying to find their proper positions, they looked like the Keystone Kops. The films will show them that Rozier had three blockers and only two defensive players in front of him.

Moon did his job.

"I thought I hit him in the chest," he said. "I don't know, where did I hit him?"

In the chest.

"That's a pass that Mike Rozier catches 10 out of 10 times," guard Bruce Matthews said.

Try 9 out of 10.

"I looked in front of me and there was a lot of room," Rozier said. "But I didn't look up too early. I just jammed my finger trying to catch the ball. It would have worked."

If it had, Glanville said, the Oilers would have gained 15 or 20 yards, gotten them out of a hole and shortened the field.

Instead, it shortened the field for the Broncos.

"You have to execute whatever play you call whether you like the play or not," Moon said. "If he had caught the ball and run 20 yards down the sidelines, everybody would be saying what a great call it is."

But now everybody is saying that perhaps Glanville shouldn't have taken such a big risk in that situation, while the Oilers were still trying to get grounded. If he wanted to use the play, everybody is saying that he should have had Rozier take two steps forward instead of backward. That way, if he dropped the ball, it would be just another incomplete pass and not a fumble.

Now everybody is saying Glanville should learn from another country song about a gambler and cards. It says something about knowing when to hold them and went to fold them.

eriadoc
06-17-2012, 09:39 PM
So a fumble inside your own 5 yard line at the beginning of a playoff game can lose the game for you? Who knew?

:slapfight:

badboy
06-17-2012, 09:43 PM
Wow, I just made a reference to that play in the thread about play action.

Hookem Horns
06-17-2012, 11:39 PM
So a fumble inside your own 5 yard line at the beginning of a playoff game can lose the game for you? Who knew?

:slapfight:

Jacoby Jones knows?

Texan_Bill
06-18-2012, 07:12 AM
:facepalm: Glanville!

TheIronDuke
06-18-2012, 07:59 AM
Thanks for posting this. I've seen a lot of references to Stagger Lee on here and couldn't really find anything on the Internet when I looked it up. The way people talk about it I thought it was some kind of play that back-fired when the Oilers were in a position to win a game. It sounds like it was just a player who fumbled, why does Glanville get so much crap for the call when it would've worked had it been executed?

ckhouston
06-18-2012, 09:00 AM
Thanks for posting this. I've seen a lot of references to Stagger Lee on here and couldn't really find anything on the Internet when I looked it up. The way people talk about it I thought it was some kind of play that back-fired when the Oilers were in a position to win a game. It sounds like it was just a player who fumbled, why does Glanville get so much crap for the call when it would've worked had it been executed?

Probably because throwing a lateral in your won end zone is stupid. Sure there may be times when a play like that will catch a team off-guard, but to take that chance in a playoff game with a team as young as that one? Bad call.

eriadoc
06-18-2012, 09:10 AM
Jacoby Jones knows?

Don't know ... I've been told repeatedly that JJ's fumble did not lose the game. It was 7 points though, and the loss was by 7 points. Math isn't my strong suit though.

ckhouston
06-18-2012, 09:34 AM
Don't know ... I've been told repeatedly that JJ's fumble did not lose the game. It was 7 points though, and the loss was by 7 points. Math isn't my strong suit though.

Amazing. I have been told the same thing.

Gave up seven points.

Killed the momentum which was completely in our favor.

Put more pressure on a rookie QB.

But could never have had anything to do with the outcome.

Interesting.

StarStruck
06-18-2012, 11:33 AM
Nice read, and props to Randy Harvey.

NastyNate
06-18-2012, 05:33 PM
Amazing. I have been told the same thing.

Gave up seven points.

Killed the momentum which was completely in our favor.

Put more pressure on a rookie QB.

But could never have had anything to do with the outcome.

Interesting.

TJ's 3 Turnovers> JJ's 1 Turnover.

Double Barrel
06-18-2012, 05:54 PM
TJ's 3 Turnovers> JJ's 1 Turnover.

1st and 2 at HOU 2 > 1st and 10 at HOU 34 / 1st and 10 at BAL 29 / 1st and 10 at BAL 4

&

5 year vet > rookie

Texan_Bill
06-18-2012, 07:11 PM
Don't know ... I've been told repeatedly that JJ's fumble did not lose the game. It was 7 points though, and the loss was by 7 points. Math isn't my strong suit though.

Amazing. I have been told the same thing.

Gave up seven points.

Killed the momentum which was completely in our favor.

Put more pressure on a rookie QB.

But could never have had anything to do with the outcome.

Interesting.

1st and 2 at HOU 2 > 1st and 10 at HOU 34 / 1st and 10 at BAL 29 / 1st and 10 at BAL 4

&

5 year vet > rookie

It baffles the sh*t out of me that anyone even tries to make an argument to the contrary!!!!! :dontknowa

steelbtexan
06-18-2012, 07:34 PM
Screw Jerry Glanville.

He was a mental midget that had a terrible case of short mans disease.

Texan_Bill
06-18-2012, 08:02 PM
Screw Jerry Glanville.

He was a mental midget that had a terrible case of short mans disease.

Honestly, I had a love/hate thing for Glanville. I hated the jackassery/douche.baggerygery that was Jerry Glanville.... BUT at the same time the Oilers defense, offense and Special teams were awesome. They could move the ball on offense, they could shut-down some of the best offenses and did quite well with the "Hit the Beach" mentality on ST's.... Only to collapse when it mattered the most.

:facepalm: Glanville!