The first thing the Raiders’ defender are going to do here are read the offensive line and their run keys. This was a really neat play because it’s not very often that a tight end is going to get a handoff in this situation. Typically if a tight end is in motion it’s to come across the formation and block. When Flacco takes the snap, the Raiders read the running back and fullback as they take off towards the right side of the offense, as does the line. This pulls the entire defense that way, minus the man who is covering Mayle.
Tight end Ben Watson holds his block long enough for Mayle to get the edge and six points later the Ravens take an early lead.
Credit the coaching staff for taking advantage of a Raider defense that has struggled this year by throwing play designs and wrinkles at them that expose their awareness.
Motion and trickery in the red zone have been something that has become more prominent in today’s NFL, especially this year. The Chiefs and Andy Reid have been using motion pre-snap to fool defenses and scheme running lanes or option lanes for the offense. Handing it off to the tight end is a bit unconventional, but it worked, and success impacts defenses. It can cause hesitation on short yardage situations where defenders have to read and react longer, by which time the Ravens may have already scored.