Photo Credit: Shakin The Southland
CFP National Championship: Alabama vs Clemson, January 7, 2019
Anyone who watched the Clemson beatdown on Alabama last night got to see an all-time bad trick play attempt. With a score of 31-16 and just under 10 minutes left in the game, Alabama was still in striking distance, but their drive stalled. They had the ball on Clemson’s 23 with 4th down and 6. So they had the choice of a 40-yard field goal attempt or going for it. Alabama decided to go for it. But not with their Heisman candidate QB or any of their elite receivers. Instead, they decided to try the inspiration for this article and pulled out one of the worst trick plays I’ve ever seen.
This is where Alabama should have immediately audibled and just kicked it. I mean, Clemson is completely prepared for a fake field goal here. Why still try it? But apparently, Alabama must have such a good trick play up their sleeve that it wouldn’t matter what defense Clemson was running. Right?
Nope. Nope. Nope. Instead, they use their 3rd string QB, Mac Jones, to take the snap and try to run up the gut. As you see, this play went off the rails for a few reasons.
Number 1: Alabama used 3 linemen to block #44 Nyles Pinckney, who literally shed all three of them with one move and blew up the play immediately. If 900+ pounds worth of lineman can’t block one man, the play is doomed from the start.
Number 2: Even if Pinckney had been blocked properly, Alabama’s play design had the KICKER LEAD BLOCKING on the play. The play was over before the kicker, 6′ 200 pound Joseph Bulovas, really had the chance to make contact. If you look closely, you can see that he was about to have to try and block #42 Christian Wilkins, Clemson’s future NFL D-Lineman who dominated the entire game against Alabama’s offensive line. If anything, Bulovas should be glad that the play was blown up early because if he had been the only thing in between Wilkins and a huge 4th down stop, they would still be trying to scrape Bulovas off the field.
Overall, this is one of the worst football trick plays I have ever seen- And it made me think of two more terrible trick plays I’ve been able to see, laugh at, and mock.
Colts vs. Patriots, October 18, 2015
It’s impossible to have this list without having this play, which people have called possibly the worst play in NFL history. There really isn’t much that has to be set up here situation wise. Just watch…
So, with 5 Patriots players right around the ball, and only one “center” and one player to snap the ball to, the Colts decided to snap the ball anyway, and exactly what you would think might happen did happen. The explanation for what happened was that the play was supposed to be a hard count to draw the defense offsides, and the ball was never supposed to be snapped at all, but it was because of a miscommunication. Whatever the reason, I am just happy it happened the way it did because it is definitely one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen happen in an NFL game.
Redskins vs. Giants, December 21, 2009
As atrocious as the previous 2 plays have been, this one is right up there as well. It probably had the title of worst play before the Colts came for that title 6 years later. Washington was getting blown out of the water on national TV and before going into halftime down 24-0, lined up for a field goal. Then they audibled to a similar formation to what the Colts tried in that above play. And this happened.
The only difference between this and that play is that in the Redskins game, the play actually seemed to have direction. It seemed to be a play where the player that received the snap, punter Hunter Smith, was supposed to throw it laterally towards the sideline where kicker Graham Gano was waiting with his hands out. Then, at least I think, he would have blockers over there to form a pocket and give him a chance to make an attempt downfield. INSTEAD, Smith panicked, did not make that throw to the sideline, and tried to heave it downfield himself. Of course, his throw was an absolute duck and was easily intercepted by the Giants- reminding us all that we should stick to our day jobs.
As much as we hear about how genius offensive coaches and play callers are in high-level football, they are still human. They are still prone to doing really stupid things at times, and there are no better examples of that than these three plays above.