The Indianapolis Colts Attempt the Worst Fake Punt Ever


It was a bizarre weekend for special teams units in both college football and the NFL. On the collegiate level, Michigan lost to hated in-state rival Michigan State on a botched punt. Then, in the pros, the Indianapolis Colts tried the weirdest gimmick formation we’ve ever seen against the New England Patriots. The Colts botched fake punt has to be seen to believed. However even after seeing the trick play/fake punt, you still won’t believe it. So what exactly happened and who’s at fault for this tremendous botch.

Failed Execution or Dumb Call?

Sunday night the Indianapolis Colts ran a trick play so baffling it made NFL fans wonder if they were getting punked. No one including the Patriots, Colts’ players or fans watching could understand what they saw. Even broadcasters Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were dumbfounded.

So what happened? The Colts trailed the Patriots 27-21 with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter. On a fourth-down play, Indy lined up to punt the ball to the Patriots. But then weirdly, the punting unit shifted into an unorthodox formation. Most of the Colts players shifted toward the home sideline, leaving only safety Colt Anderson and wide receiver Griff Whalen over the ball. The Patriots weren’t fooled by the strange formation and shifted in response. Whalen then actually snapped the ball to Anderson without an offensive line between Anderson and Patriots’ defenders. The Patriots tackled Anderson for a Colts’ turnover on downs. What the hell did we just see?


The Colts on that Chronic

On the Tuesday after the game punter, Pat McAfee tried to explain the play call to the press. “The whole idea there was on fourth-and-3 or less, we shift to an alignment to where we could catch them misaligned,” he said. “They tried to sub some people in. Catch them with more men on the field — 12 men on the field. And if you get a certain look, you have three (or) two yards to make a play.”

McAfee added, “So, you’re trying to manipulate the (receiving team) into thinking they have to sub their defense back on.” he said. “We are sprinting to the sideline in hopes to make the other team think we are subbing our offense back onto the field. So, when they think the offense is coming back on the field, your hope is that they think their defense has to come back on the field. As soon as their defense comes back on the field, we snap it, steal 5 yards and we get a first down.”

Too bad the play didn’t work and it’s so convoluted, you have to question the thinking by Chuck Pagano and his staff. Perhaps Pagano saw the play work in a Pee-Wee league football game. Heck, even NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth called the play nuts, so there’s no denying the ridiculousness of the fake punt. Colts Coach Pagano did try to take the blame for the fake punt, but the whole team screwed the play up. The result was one of the worst executed fake punts in history.

F&TS correspondent Dick Burns got an exclusive video of New England’s reactions to the snap and turnover.