Over the years, we've seen some hilarious gaffes committed against the Patriots by bad football teams. The most notable in the last 5 years includes Mark Sanchez's Butt-fumble in 2012 and the Colts failed fake punt attempt last season. As expected, you were probably laughing your arse off as the play went south for the Jets and Colts respectively. As part of the NFL Hall of Fame festivities, NFL on ESPN account (@ESPNNFL) named Jets QB Mark Sanchez as their Hall of Fame player and the Colts failed punt as their Hall of Fame play.
It was Thanksgiving 2012 and the first game in which NBC received the rights from the NFL to broadcast the night game. The Patriots were facing a desperate Jets team that was fighting for their playoff lives, or at least until the Jets started making hilarious gaffes in the game. The Patriots were in the midst of a scoring binge that wound up resulting in 3 touchdowns in less than a minute, all of which in every main phase of the game. At the time, the Patriots had just scored on a Shane Vereen 83-yard touchdown run when the Jets did not attempt to cover Vereen out of the backfield. Vereen took the swing pass and turned on the jets (no pun intended) all the way into the end zone.
On the ensuing drive, the Jets had already picked up a first down on the play, which sets up perhaps the most embarrassing play in NFL history. This play alone was probably enough to get Sanchez the honors, with ESPN having to retire this play as their Worst of the Worst for their Not Top 10 Plays since nothing outdid it.
Mark Sanchez had been blasted to pieces by the ruthless New York media and you could tell his confidence was waning, especially after a horrific performance against the Patriots earlier that season. Sanchez turns the wrong way on a presumed handoff to the fullback Lex Hilliard, who started the year in New England, causing the play to become DOA. Since it was called a running play, Sanchez took matters into his own hands and scrambled up the middle to get what he could. The Patriots defensive front did a good job of stonewalling the Jets offensive line, so Sanchez was preparing to slide for no gain. At the same time, Vince Wilfork was able to get under Brandon Moore and throw him back a couple yards, causing Moore's butt to hit Sanchez's facemask. The force of the impact caused Sanchez to fumble and safety Steve Gregory alertly ran it back with no Jets in the area code for his first and only NFL touchdown.
*You may proceed to take your laugh break before continuing*
Colts Failed Fake Punt: 10/18/2015
If there is one thing you should not absolutely try against the Patriots, it's a fake punt. Bill Belichick comes out of a special teams background from his extremely early coaching career and that's the one area he absolutely makes sure is fundamentally solid every year and drafts kickers, punters, long snappers, and Special Teams aces. The Colts outsmarted themselves, thinking they had a trick play to catch the Patriots off-guard, which was another big mistake because Belichick-coached teams don't typically fall for gimmicky plays.
The Colts tried a swinging gate formation with 9 players lined up away from the football in a 4-3-2 pyramid style formation with a center and "QB". The Patriots likely didn't have any idea what was going on, but being the fundamentally solid team they are, they didn't panic and lined up across from each eligible receiver. Special teams aces Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner make sure everyone is lined up properly and Ebner instructs Jon Bostic and Brandon Bolden to line up on both sides of the center, Griff Whalen. I have no idea what the Colts' adjustment would have been if they didn't catch the Patriots off-guard, I assume they would have taken a Delay of Game penalty and punted, but it wasn't what wound up happening. Whalen winds up snapping the ball with 1 second on the play clock and Bolden does a killer Jabaal Sheard impression as he immediately swarmed Colt Anderson before Whalen can get out of his stance. The play resulted in a turnover on downs and millions of Patriots fans laughing at the Colts newest display of ineptitude.
It's never a good idea to try to out-innovate Bill Belichick, who has seen it all in 40+ years of NFL coaching experience. Whatever idea other teams have attempted, Belichick has likely implemented it, made it work, and then figured out how to beat it. One example is the Ineligible Receiver Gimmick that the Patriots ran against the Ravens to perfection in their 2014 title run. Teams are trying to copy that, but predictably aren't having the same type of success since they don't have the same attention to detail that Belichick demands out of his players.