The “product” that the NFL is so proud of is the result of world-class athletes performing at their peak under the brightest of lights.
As humans, they will inevitably make mistakes. The consequences for themselves, their teammates, and their fans can be disastrous.
Look no further than the final seconds of Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and the Las Vegas Raiders. With the game tied at 24, three seconds left on the clock and the Raiders in prevent defence, Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson ran up the middle for 23 yards.
Despite being on the other side of the whistle, he made the fateful decision to lateral the ball to teammate Jakobi Meyers.
Meyers took a step back and decided to throw across the middle of the field. Waiting for his perfect spiral in the middle of the Raiders logo was Las Vegas defensive end Chandler Jones. The former Patriot made a clean catch, turned stiff-armed Patriots quarterback Mac Jones into the middle of the field, and sprinted for the game-winning touchdown.
Desean Jackson’s Meadowlands Miracle
Matt Dodge only had to punt the ball out of bounds. The Philadelphia Eagles had already tied the Giants at 31, erasing a 21-point deficit in less than eight minutes, with 14 seconds on the clock.
Instead, the line-drive kick was aimed squarely at Desean Jackson. The speedster muffed the punt, but quickly recovered. He took a breather, spotted a seam, and dashed up the middle of the field. Jackson was in the open field in the blink of an eye as the clock approached zero.
The Eagles won in overtime to improve to 10-4, while the Giants fell to 9-5 and missed the playoffs in 2010.
‘Butt fumble,’ Mark Sanchez
It was the night before Thanksgiving ten years ago. The Rex Ryan-coached New York Jets were facing AFC East rival New England. Trailing by 14 with nine minutes to go in the second quarter, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez went to hand off the ball. Nobody was present to accept it.
The Patriots were once again on the wrong end of one of these plays. In 2018, the Miami Dolphins were losing 33-28 when they ran the sandlot play as time expired.
First, Ryan Tannehill connected with Davis Sills near midfield, who lateraled to Devante Parker. Kenyan Drake took the second lateral, circled a few defenders, and beat Rob Gronkowski to the pylon for the game-winning touchdown and a 34-33 Dolphins victory.
Russell Wilson’s 1-yard interception
The Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson were one yard away from winning their second Super Bowl in a dramatic victory over the Patriots. When the Seahawks chose to throw from that distance rather than hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, it became one of the most perplexing decisions in NFL history.
New England cornerback Malcolm Butler jumped the route, and his interception is regarded as one of the most clutch plays in NFL history, while the Seahawks’ numerous gaffes are remembered forever.
In 2015, a “Sunday Night Football” game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots provided one of the more bizarre moments in recent memory.
The Colts not only lined up in an illegal formation while attempting the fake punt, but Griff Whalen snapped the ball to Colt Anderson, who was under centre. Anderson was easily tackled behind the line of scrimmage by the Patriots defenders surrounding him.
Pat McAfee, the Colts’ punter at the time, later explained that the play was intended to draw New England offside and that if successful, the team was supposed to take a delay of game; the ball was never supposed to be snapped.
Do all of these plays involve the Patriots?
Super Bowl gaffe by Garo Yepremian
Yepremian, a left-footed kicker, was called upon to extend the Dolphins’ 14-0 lead over Washington in Super Bowl 7. His kick was deflected, and Yepremian found himself with the ball at his feet.
The Musical City Miracle
With the score 16-15, the Tennessee Titans needed a miracle to win the AFC Wild Card game against the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 8, 2000.
Lorenzo Neal fielded the short kickoff and handed it to tight end Frank Wycheck, who ran to the right side of the field. Wycheck then turned and threw the ball to receiver Kevin Dyson across the field. The term “independent” refers to a person who does not work for the government.
This play was dubbed “Home Run Throwback” by the Titans.
Brandon Bostick fails to recover an onside kick in the Packers’ game against the Seahawks.
A third-string tight end for the Packers, Bostick should have been a footnote in the 2014 NFC Championship Game. Instead, he was the main character. With a 19-14 lead, Green Bay had to recover a Seattle onside kick attempt and run out the clock.
Except for Bostick, who got in the way.
Bostick was supposed to block, and Jordy Nelson, the dependable receiver, was waiting behind him to field the kick. He flailed his arms and leaped. The ball passed through his arms and struck him in the head. The ball popped in the air, and the Seahawks recovered to take a 22-19 lead on the next drive with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
The Packers tied the game at 22 to force overtime, but Seattle won the coin toss and won the game to advance to the Super Bowl.