USFL Inside the Drive: All-access look at Breakers' game-winning drive

USFL Inside the Drive: All-access look at Breakers' game-winning drive

6 days ago

The New Orleans Breakers were locked in a struggle with the Houston Gamblers on Sunday, tied 16-16 with 42 seconds left. They had the ball on their own 44-yard line, but given how Houston's defense had harassed the Breakers into four turnovers on the day, overtime looked like a distinct possibility.

That's when the Breakers went to work, with head coach Larry Fedora directing traffic from the sideline, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone calling plays from the booth and quarterback Kyle Sloter executing a dramatic game-winning drive.

The drive didn't start out perfectly, with Sloter motioning to the bench "I need a play!"

"Gimme trips right," Fedora responded. "Let's go ‘62 Viper.’"

Mazzone then added some sage advice — given the tie score — into Sloter's in-helmet speaker.

"Kyle, protect the football, Kyle. Alright?" he said.

"62 Viper" turned out to be a 25-yard pass to Sal Cannella, a play that was upheld after a review.

Now the Breakers were in business, with the ball on Houston's 34. But that's when things got hairy.

After a two-yard run by Jordan Ellis, Sloter spiked the ball to stop the clock. That left the Breakers with third-and-8 at Houston's 29 with 16 seconds remaining. 

Mazzone called a play, but after getting a look at Houston's defense as Sloter and his teammates came to the line, he changed it. Sloter, deeming that there wasn't enough time left on the play clock to make the change, burned his team's last timeout.

That put the Breakers in a tough spot. They could either opt to let kicker Taylor Bertolet attempt a game-winning field goal from about 46 yards out, or they could try to run one more play to try to get a little closer or even win the game. They went for option No. 2.

"We're gonna go ‘dual right, 62 Viper OTB,’" Mazzone called. "But … this has gotta be a complete. … Look for Jay."

Mazzone was calling for a go-for-the-win shot to the end zone, with Jonathan (Jay) Adams being the primary target.

As the Breakers came out of the timeout, Fedora instructed Sloter: "Do not throw it underneath."

"No, I'm throwing it to (bleeping) Jay. Deep," Sloter responded. He then turned to Adams and emphasized, "I am throwing it to YOU."

Adams responded coolly, "Throw it to the end zone."

"Throw it to Jay for a touchdown or throw it away, Kyle," Mazzone said.

Sloter's 29-yard back-shoulder fade to Adams was perfectly placed. The 6-3, 220-pound receiver went up and got it, and the Breakers walked away with a 23-16 victory.

Sloter talked about the final play with RJ Young on his podcast, "The Number One Ranked Show."

"Really the goal with that last play is we wanted to take a shot at the end zone and just end it right there," Sloter said. "It was kind of a pick your best matchup. For me, Jay Adams is probably the best jump-ball guy I've ever been around, and that goes to NFL, college … The guy is, he's very, very gifted athletically, and he's a guy that I knew, if I get a one-on-one opportunity, I wanna give him a chance in the end zone."