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Buffalo Bills four verticals play continues to pay off

Four verticals is a staple of the Buffalo Bills' passing offense, and it paid off yet again in Week 10 with a pretty touchdown pass from Kyle Orton to Chris Hogan. Let's break it down.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough loss against Kansas City, I could have looked at the various near-misses the Buffalo Bills had that all combined into costing them the game. Instead, I wanted to look at something more positive: the touchdown pass from Kyle Orton to Chris Hogan in the first quarter.

The Bills have called one of their favorite plays, four verticals. The goal is to get four guys vertical down the field and make the safety wrong. You can see here, pre-snap, that Kansas City has a single high safety look with press coverage to the offense's right side. Most likely, this means man coverage. One of the common misconceptions of the four-verticals play call is that it is a deep play. It really isn't; the goal is to hit the receiver running the seam just as they pass the depth of the linebackers (10-15 yards).


What I really wanted to highlight was how quickly Hogan beats his defensive back and becomes open with five yards. This play was won at the line of the scrimmage in how quickly Hogan beats the jam. Hogan is trying to get to the seam here, and sets up the defensive back by jabbing to the outside. You can see the corner step that way, and then Hogan crosses over and the back is in trouble. Hogan then swims over the corner's outstretched arm, and it is over. Great separation in only five yards, and an easy throw and catch for a touchdown.

hogan release

You can see the outside receivers running fades, which stretches the field and really opens the middle. The deep safety is shaded toward Sammy Watkins, and there is no way for him to get over to Hogan in time to break up the pass or even make the tackle before Hogan gets into the end zone.

hogan td2

The Bills will run this play at least 2-3 times per game, so watch for it Thursday as the Bills take on the Miami Dolphins.