With Andrew Luck watching from the sideline, special-teams ace Colt Anderson lined up under center and took the snap at a critical point during the much-anticipated rematch between the Colts and Patriots.
It was easily the worst play of the 2015 season.
Indianapolis trailed New England 27-21 late in the third quarter and faced a fourth-and-3 at its own 37.
Obviously, it was a punting situation. But Colts coach Chuck Pagano had other ideas.
Wide receiver Griff Whalen played center. Anderson, a reserve safety, played quarterback. The other nine players shifted and spread out across the line of scrimmage. The Patriots weren’t fooled. They put five players directly on Whalen and Anderson.
Whalen panicked and snapped the ball instead of calling a timeout. Anderson was quickly tackled and the Patriots took the ball in excellent field position. Tom Brady then tossed a decisive TD pass to LeGarrette Blount.
“That’s on me,” Pagano said afterward.
Here are more poor coaching decisions made during this season:
GIANT MISTAKE I: Eli Manning and the New York Giants had a chance to put the game away at Dallas in Week 1 with a 23-20 lead late in the fourth quarter, but awful clock management cost them a win. With 1:34 left and no timeouts remaining for Dallas, the Giants had third down from the Cowboys 1. Instead of running the ball and working the clock, the Giants called a pass. Manning ended up throwing the ball away because his receivers were covered. He could’ve run 40 seconds off the clock by simply going down or taking a knee.
The incomplete pass followed by a field goal gave the Giants a 6-point lead and allowed the Cowboys a chance to win on a touchdown. Tony Romo delivered just that, a game-winning 72-yard drive in 1:27.
“It’s my fault at the end of game,” Coughlin said.
GIANT MISTAKE II: Coughlin wanted to bury the Jets when he decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 from New York’s 4 and the Giants ahead 20-10 with under nine minutes to play in Week 13. Rontez Miles intercepted Manning’s pass, sparking a comeback that sent the Giants to a 23-20 overtime loss that damaged their playoff chances.
GIANT MISTAKE III: With 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter at New Orleans in Week 9, the Giants punted from their 25. Brad Wing kicked the ball to Marcus Murphy instead of booting it out of bounds.
Murphy returned the 46-yard punt 24 yards to the Giants 47. Making it worse, a face-mask penalty on Wing, of all people, put the ball at the 32 and allowed Kai Forbath to kick a 50-yard field goal to win it for the Saints.
NO RESPECT: After the Patriots scored to go up 14-0 on struggling Philadelphia in the second quarter in Week 13, coach Bill Belichick tried to get cute with an onside kick and it backfired in a big way.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski tossed the ball to safety Nate Ebner, a former rugby star, who dropkicked it 24 yards downfield. The Eagles were ready and Seyi Ajirotutu fielded it at his 41. The Eagles capitalized on the good field position for the first of five consecutive touchdowns – two on special teams, one on defense and two on offense – to build a shocking 35-14 lead on their way to an upset win. Belichick’s decision to onside kick sparked the rally and motivated players who thought the Patriots took them lightly.
OUTFOXED: Bears coach John Fox, who was often criticized for being conservative, took the aggressive route and it cost him against his former team.
Fox’s new team trailed the Broncos 17-9 with 10 minutes left at Soldier Field when the Bears went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 4.
Jay Cutler‘s pass fell incomplete and the decision not to kick the field goal proved costly when Chicago’s 2-point conversion failed in the final minute of a 17-15 loss.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.