INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts couldn’t get out of their own way Sunday night in what was supposed to be their revenge on the New England Patriots.
Or, wait, was it the Patriots who were seeking revenge against the Colts? Either way, the most anticipated game of the season for both teams didn’t go as expected.
The Patriots were supposed to roll the Colts. Scoffs echoed through New England when the Patriots originally were favored by just 7 1/2 points over the Colts. Turns out Las Vegas knows what it’s talking about.
The Patriots won 34-27, and it was thanks in large part to a monumental error by the Colts. The Patriots led 27-21 with 1:14 remaining in the third quarter and hadn’t scored on two consecutive drives. The Colts were on their own 37-yard line and aligned safety Colt Anderson behind wide receiver Griff Whalen at center, with the rest of the punting unit on the right side of the field, after initially lining up to punt on fourth down. The game had turned into a field-position battle at that point.
The Colts waited to snap the ball, on what was either supposed to draw the Patriots offside or result in a swinging gate play, until New England’s return unit was properly aligned and the play clock was expiring. But Anderson was taken down for a 3-yard loss after Whalen finally snapped the ball. The Patriots scored on the ensuing drive, essentially putting the game away.
“We didn’t really know how we wanted to handle it,” said Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan, who was in on the tackle. “At the end, we just communicated, and we figured, ‘Hey, if they got one guy to snap the ball, and we have two or three, we’ll just tackle it before he throws it, then he can’t really get a play off.’ The numbers didn’t look good. We just went went for it, and we were able to make the play.”
Ryan, like the rest of his teammates, found humor in the poorly executed play and said he had never seen a team attempt it before.
“I think there was a lot of confusion out there, honestly,” Ryan said. “I don’t know what the goal of that play was, but I’m happy we were able to defend it.”
Julian Edelman, who was back to field the punt, was understandably happy the Colts ran the failed fake.
“I’m glad they did it. We got the ball back with great field position,” Edelman said. “We were alert. Our guys went to where we had to go. And, um, shame on them, trying that again.”
Nate Ebner was near the line of scrimmage on the fake punt and was surprised the Colts snapped the ball when they did.
“At the point where they didn’t snap the ball and do something, at that point, I was surprised they went through with it,” Ebner said. “I don’t know that they meant to do that, but that’s what they did.”
Jon Bostic also was guarding the middle of the field and thought the Colts were trying to draw the Patriots offside.
“To be honest, I thought they were hard-counting it, but they snapped it,” Bostic said.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano blamed himself for the failed trickery, saying, “That’s all on me.”
The Colts, who scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to cut the Patriots’ lead to seven points, had a chance to win Sunday night. Then they tried a fake punt, Twitter exploded, and the Patriots came away victorious.
“It turned out to be one of the most failed fake punts probably of all time,” Colts punter Pat McAfee admitted.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images