The Colts' attempt to fool the Patriots with a fake punt Sunday night only made Indianapolis look foolish. It might not have been the dumbest call or execution of a play in NFL history, but it certainly ranks down there in the litany of failures.
Indy, trailing by six points in the third quarter, lined up nine players to the right, with only the snapper (wideout Griff Whalen) and the quarterback (safety Colt Anderson) on the left. New England wasn't tricked, and the Colts' plan was supposed to include taking a delay of game. Instead, Anderson took a premature snap and was at the bottom of a tidal wave of Patriots tacklers.
Game over, basically.
"The whole idea there was on fourth-and-3 or less, shift our alignment to where you either catch them misaligned, they try to sub some people in, catch them with 12 men on the field, and if you get a certain look, you can make a play," coach Chuck Pagano said. "Alignment-wise, we weren't lined up correctly, and then there was a communication problem on the snap, and I take responsibility for that."
Who gets the blame on some of the other classic Bozo plays in the NFL? Read on:
Abner Haynes: The star running back for the AFL's Dallas Texans in 1962 misunderstood coach Hank Stram's directions on the coin flip for overtime. He won and chose to kick off into a hefty wind. Fortunately for Haynes, the Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs) held off the Oilers and won in double OT.
Jim Marshall: One of the most durable players in NFL history, the defensive end is best known for going the wrong way with a fumble in 1964. The Vikings standout recovered a fumble by the 49ers' Billy Kilmer and, disoriented, returned it 66 yards to his own end zone. Safety, San Francisco.
Garo Yepremian: Perhaps the most infamous play in a Super Bowl, Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian had his attempt blocked by Washington in 1973. He picked up the ball, made a clumsy attempt to pass, and it flew directly to Washington's Mike Bass. He went 49 yards for a TD, but Miami held on to close out its perfect season.
Joe Pisarcik, John McVay, Bob Gibson: The 1978 "Miracle at the Meadowlands," when Giants QB Joe Pisarcik followed the orders of coach John McVay and offensive coordinator Bob Gibson to hand off to fullback Larry Csonka when kneeling would have clinched a victory over Philadelphia. Pisarcik's attempt never got to Csonka, hit the turf and Eagles DB Herman Edwards picked up the ball and ran into the end zone for the winning points.
Leon Lett: Late in Dallas' 1993 Super Bowl rout of Buffalo, Cowboys DL Leon Lett picked up a fumble and headed down the sideline undisturbed. As he approached the goal line, he began showboating, sticking the ball out. Bills receiver Don Beebe caught him and knocked the ball out of Lett's hands for a touchback.
Leon Lett (again): This time, Miami was trying a field goal in the snow in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day 1993 — seriously. The kick was blocked and sat on the white stuff untouched. Until Lett, despite claiming he knew the rules that it was a dead ball if no one touched it, tried to pounce on the pigskin. It slid away, the Dolphins recovered and kicked the winning field goal. Lett called it "brain freeze."
Dan Orlovsky: In the midst of the NFL's only 0-16 season, in 2008, the Lions QB obliviously stepped out of the back of the end zone while scrambling, awarding the Vikings a safety.
Mark Sanchez: New England could give thanks to Jets QB Mark Sanchez on Thanksgiving night 2012 when his running back missed a handoff, so Sanchez took off and smacked into the butt of guard Brandon Moore. Out came the ball, scooped up by Patriots DB Steve Gregory, who trotted into the end zone for a touchdown.
Dwayne Rudd: Cleveland linebacker Dwayne Rudd blew his top and cost the Browns a win. Rudd was penalized for ripping off his helmet and flinging it in celebration during the final seconds against Kansas City. That extended the opening game in 2002, and the Chiefs won.
Jim Schwartz: What is it about Thanksgiving? In 2012, Jim Schwartz threw his red flag on a play that already would be reviewed, Justin Forsett's 81-yard TD run for Houston. But because the Lions coach challenged — considered a delay of the next snap by league rules — the replay official couldn't initiate a review. What should have been an 8-yard rush because Forsett was down by conduct turned into a touchdown. Detroit lost in overtime.
Darius Reynaud: The Titans opened the 2013 season at Pittsburgh in fine fashion. Darius Reynaud botched handling the opening kickoff outside the end zone, and stepped back over the goal line to down the ball. Two points for the Steelers.
Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell: A "Beast" of a botched play last February. With perhaps the best short-yardage back in football, Marshawn Lynch, on the field, the Seahawks threw on second down from the Patriots 1. The ball was intercepted to clinch New England's victory. In the Super Bowl.
The Colts' miscue versus Pats joins an infamous list.