Words can’t describe the nuttiness of Colts’ botched fourth-down play

Griff Whalen, Colt Anderson, James White

Indianapolis’ Griff Whalen can do nothing to prevent teammate Colt Anderson from being tackled by a group of New England Patriots on Sunday.

(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

It’s being called the worst fake punt in history, but that really doesn’t do justice to the absurd play attempted by Indianapolis against New England on Sunday night.

In fact, Colts punter Pat McAfee was barely even involved. After Indianapolis lined up in punt formation on fourth and three late in the third quarter, McAfee was one of nine Colts players to either shift or stay all the way down near the right sideline. 

That left just receiver Griff Whalen to snap the ball and safety Colt Anderson standing under center. But several New England players remained up near the ball and had no trouble tackling Anderson immediately after the ball was snapped, giving the Patriots the ball at the Colts 35.

But that description really doesn’t do it justice either. You’ve got to see this for yourself.


New England was already up, 27-21, at the time of the Colts’ botched play and converted the great field position into what would turn out to be the game-winning touchdown in a 34-27 Patriots victory.

“Sunday Night Football” commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were befuddled, but they did their best to put what they were seeing into words.

“Uh-oh,” “What the heck?” “That was insane,” and “I’ve never seen anything more bizarre than that” were some of the phrases Collinsworth used during and immediately after the play, while Michaels added “what in the world?” and “completely nuts.”


After the game, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck gave an extremely understated description of the play, calling it “not ideal.”

Colts Coach Chuck Pagano, who could be seen on the sidelines asking Whalen why he snapped the ball, attempted to explain the call after the game.

“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,” Pagano said. “Alignment-wise we weren’t lined up correctly, and then a communication problem on the snap. I take responsibility for that.”

Still confused? Yeah, me too.