Chuck Pagano on Trick Play Gone Wrong: ‘Communication Breakdown’

Colts Swining Gate Fake Punt AP

The Indianapolis Colts tried to run a trick play on the New England Patriots. Instead, they caught themselves by surprise.

Down 27-21 late in the third quarter on fourth-and-three, the Colts, from their own 37, came out in a gimmick formation. The entire team, save the center and quarterback, lined up wide right in a “swinging gate” formation.

The Patriots, not exactly a Pop Warner team, sniffed out the scheme. Anticipating their opponents putting too many men on the field, leaving the quarterback unattended, or taking a timeout, the Colts freaked out when their opponents didn’t.

“The whole idea there was on fourth-and-3 or less, we shift to an alignment to where we could catch them misaligned,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano told the media. “They tried to sub some people in. Catch them with more men on the field — 12 men on the field. And if you get a certain look, you have three (or) two yards to make a play.”

With Patriots hovering over receiver Griff Anderson playing center, he nevertheless snapped the ball to a surprised safety Colt Anderson playing quarterback. Patriots running back and special teams player Brandon Bolden immediately wrestled Anderson to the ground for a loss.

The Colts turned the ball over on downs. Rather than catch the Patriots with too many men on the field, the Colts got flagged for an illegal formation when several linemen got in their stances in the backfield. The Pats declined the penalty and proceeded to score a nail-in-the-coffin touchdown. The visitors held on for a 34-27 win despite a late six by the Colts (followed by an amazing blocked point-after touchdown by Jamie Collins).

“We shifted over and I didn’t do a good enough job coaching it during the week. Alignment wise, we weren’t lined up correctly and we had a communication breakdown between the quarterback and snapper. That’s on me.”

Twitter thought so:

The home team’s coach executed a gameplan of a road team trying to steal a game from a prohibitive favorite, and it worked for a while. He converted a fourth-and-short early and the Colts appeared to recover an onside kick to all but the refs (with replay not finding enough to overturn). But the “A” for effort morphed into an “F” for even trying with a minute to go in the third.

Patriots slot receiver Julian Edelman quipped after the game, “Shame on them for trying it.”