Chuck Pagano and Pat McAfee Explain Failed 4th Down Mishap


Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano explained this 4th and 3rd special teams screw-up that resulted in a turnover on downs in the 3rd quarter on his team’s own 37-yard line:

As shown above, the Colts lined up in a punt formation, only to break out in a funky alignment with just wide receiver Griff Whalen snapping and safety Colt Anderson playing as “quarterback” behind him. The result was nothing short of a disaster, as Whalen inexplicably snapped the ball and Anderson was stopped in his tracks for a loss of 1 yard.

The game was still very much winnable for the Colts at that point, only behind 21-27. However, the Patriots made them pay by scoring a touchdown on a short field during the ensuing drive. That put the game at 34-21 Patriots, and despite a late comeback attempt from the Colts, it largely took the life out of the team and the fans at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Pagano took full responsibility for the playcall after the game Sunday night:

"“The punt play,” said Pagano. “Again, I take responsibility there. The whole idea there was on a 4th and 3 and less, shift the alignment to where you either catch them misaligned, they try to sub some people in, or catch them with 12 men on the field. And if you get a certain look, you got 3 yards, 2 yards–you can make a play.”“Again, we shifted over, and I didn’t do a good enough job of coaching it during the week,” added Pagano. “Alignment-wise, we weren’t lined up correctly, and then a communication breakdown between the quarterback (Colt Anderson) and the snapper (Griff Whalen).”“And that’s on me,” concluded Pagano. “I take full responsibility on that. I didn’t go a good enough job of getting that communicated to the guys, and obviously it played a huge factor in this loss. Given the field position and the point of the game and the touchdown that resulted.”"

However, in Pagano’s defense, Colts punter Pat McAfee said it was a play that the team has worked on in the past. It’s not necessarily that it was a brand new concept and play that the team just implemented this past week:

"“So we’ve worked that play for, we started working on it last year,” said McAfee. “And then we put it back in again this week. It’s a play where you try to take advantage of numbers. We try to confuse the defense and hopefully get an edge numbers-wise.”“The look was not there that we normally have in practice, where it’s a go,” added McAfee. “There must’ve been some miscommunication between the snapper and Colt (Anderson).”"

No one can fault the Colts for throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Patriots, as the team was going to have to take some chances to pull off the upset. However, the failed 4th down play is one of those plays, where if a team attempts it, they better be sure it works.

In truth, the Colts have such a small margin of error to upset the Patriots and have to play nearly perfect to win against such a well-coached and disciplined team. Shooting themselves in the foot with a botched special teams trick play isn’t exactly doing themselves any favors.

The play was doomed from the start, as the Colts weren’t even in a legal alignment–having been flagged on the play for illegal formation. The fact that Whalen even snapped the football made matters worse, as there was clearly nowhere for Anderson to run or make a play.

Still, the Colts had other opportunities to win this football game, when it’s all said and done. It’s just that this particular playcall really came at a pivotal point of the game and really destroyed all of the team’s life and momentum. Not to mention, one could hear a pin drop at Lucas Oil Stadium the rest of the way.

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