The Indianapolis Colts lost to the New England Patriots 34-27, blowing a chance to win the game when they ran an inexplicable fake punt that never had a chance to succeed.
The Colts had the ball on their own 37-yard line late in the third quarter, trailing by six points. On 4th-and-3, they lined up for a punt, but then quickly shifted out of that into the bizarre formation seen above, with a wide receiver setting up to the snap the ball and a defensive back acting like a quarterback.
At this point it seems pretty clear. If the Patriots don’t cover the duo, snap the ball and run. If the Patriots take away the run, just don’t snap the ball, take the delay-of-game penalty and then punt the ball. The Patriots took away the run, with five defenders stacked around the ball.
Inexplicably, the Colts snapped the ball anyway. It didn’t go well.
The Patriots took the ball and scored a touchdown six plays later to take a 13-point lead. The Colts would go on to lose by one touchdown.
After the game, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano took the blame for the play.
“I didn’t do a good enough job of coaching it in the week,” Pagano told the media. “I take full responsibility there. I didn’t do a good enough job communicating to the guys.”
Clearly there was some form of breakdown in communication. After being tackled, Colt Anderson immediately looked at the snapper, Griff Whalen, and seemed to ask “what happened?”
To add insult to injury, even if the play would have been successful — the Colts needed three yards, not one, so it is hard to imagine under what scenario that would be — the play would not have counted. The Colts lined up in an illegal formation, with the lineman all standing on the 35-yard line, two yards behind the line of scrimmage.
The entire play was a mess from beginning to end and it put the Colts in a hole that was too big to come out of.
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