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Blocking up front sprang Hightower into the secondary, but there was no guarantee of a touchdown. Wide receiver Terrence Austin increased those odds with his block of Baltimore safety Tom Zbikowski.

Austin ran 12 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and shoved Zbikowski back with both hands. Zbikowski lost his balance long enough to have to adjust his angle chasing Hightower back to the left sideline.

“If you get a touchdown run in the National Football League or long runs of over 50 yards, the wide receivers have to be blocking,” Shanahan said. “Just like on that play, Austin goes down for the free safety. He takes the corner out. Unless he’s hustling on that play, its a 10- or a 12-yard gain.”

Running back

With the men in front of him executing their assignments, Hightower took care of the rest. He started running right but quickly cut upfield and back to the left after Lichtensteiger’s block leveled Baltimore’s line.

Ravens cornerback Cary Williams ran with Austin into the secondary, so he wasn’t in ideal position to stop Hightower. Hightower ran past Williams, who dove at his feet but grasped nothing but air.

Then it was a race between Hightower and Zbikowski, who tried to recover from Austin’s block. Hightower’s burst of speed was enough to reach the end zone first.

“It was a well-executed play,” Hightower said. “I told the guys, ‘I messed up the first two. I slipped twice. I told them to keep working hard for me; receivers keep blocking downfield. I’m not going to keep missing them, and I did just that.

“If we continue to build on that, I think we’ll win a lot more games than we lose this year.”