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December 5, 2009 9:38 AM   Subscribe


 
I really appreciate this, because as a Nerd-American, I've always had a hard time understanding what's going on until I see what side of the crowd is on its feet screaming. But these make it clear and entertaining.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2009


I remember the strange and amusing moment when William Perry picked up Walter Payton and carried him down the field. Does that count as a trick play? Or was it just funny?
posted by verb at 9:45 AM on December 5, 2009


As a football coach, I can check most of these plays off the used list except the Bouquet Toss, which has been sitting there in my playbook for 3 years with me unable to decide when the opportunity should happen. Maybe today in the Pro-Bowl Game. Nah, stick with the swinging gate... more fun.
posted by Senator at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the majority of plays were like this in football, I might actually take an interest in it.

Same principle applies for sports in general, actually.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:47 AM on December 5, 2009


Great idea for a post. The chance, however slim, for something really unusual to happen is what makes sports fun to watch.
posted by rokusan at 9:56 AM on December 5, 2009


Fun post. I didn't really start enjoying watching US football until my thirties. I have been pleasantly surprised how much fun it is to watch a game with friends.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:10 AM on December 5, 2009


trick plays are sweet but flexbone triple option is the sweetest?
no Halfback Option?
how bout the "Bad Ball" play?
I LOVE AMERICAN FOOTBALL
nice post
that is all
posted by nathancaswell at 10:27 AM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


We pulled the old "hey coach, I need a dry ball" trick in high school. It didn't work out as well as in the video.
posted by HumanComplex at 10:30 AM on December 5, 2009


Also, anyone see that sweet qb sneak the Pats ran (unsuccessfully) vs the Jets 2 weeks ago? They sent Edelman (a receiver and former college QB) in motion across the formation, Brady pretended like he was gonna audible, then Edelman suddenly stopped and took a snap from under center. He fumbled the snap though, but it was a really neat and totally unexpected play.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:32 AM on December 5, 2009


Senator, what kind of offense does your team run? I don't know any coaches, but the Xs and Os really fascinate me.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:37 AM on December 5, 2009


That first Fake Punt video is actually a fake-punt-to-a-fake-statue-of-liberty. Awesome.
posted by HumanComplex at 10:39 AM on December 5, 2009


Coach Eric Taylor of the Dillon Panthers appeared to be running some kind of shotgun spread / triple option / zone read / speed option / wildcat hybrid to great effect in the fourth quarter of his game this week...
posted by nathancaswell at 10:42 AM on December 5, 2009


Yeah, that Titans fake punt is the trick play of the year so far... really sweet play.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:45 AM on December 5, 2009


A Tecmo Superbowl flea flicker touchdown is one of the most hilariously satisfying gaming experiences of all time, because it always works! also this.
posted by cubby at 10:47 AM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I read somewhere recently (think it was Football Outsiders) that of all the trick plays flea flicker pretty much has the highest success rate (I don't really consider an end around to be a trick play, they're pretty common)... With the flea flicker the risk / reward is pretty good (cept for the odd Joe Theismann incident of course).
posted by nathancaswell at 10:50 AM on December 5, 2009


also this.

That run (and virtual avascular necrosis) are what lead 8 bit Bo Jackson to have such a short career.
posted by drezdn at 11:23 AM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


The swinging gate looks like a real loser to me. If the guy covering the quarterback makes his tackle or slows him down, that play is going nowhere.
posted by digsrus at 11:30 AM on December 5, 2009


Gotta love that Bouquet Toss.
posted by destro at 11:57 AM on December 5, 2009


The swinging gate looks like a real loser to me. If the guy covering the quarterback makes his tackle or slows him down, that play is going nowhere.

The thing to remember is that in high school, there's a good chance that you have one guy who is so much better than anybody on the opposing defense, that if you can get them one on one it's an easy 10 yards before they can get the three defenders there that it takes to bring him down. There's a reason nobody runs that in the pros (though the wide receiver screen is based off a similar principle).
posted by Dr.Enormous at 11:57 AM on December 5, 2009


Don't know whether this was planned or improvised, nor can I say which would be more impressive. Tricky either way. Moss over the shoulder to Williams, TD.
posted by kjell at 12:13 PM on December 5, 2009


For wacky football goodness, few games have topped the fourth quarter of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, where upstart Boise State defeated mighty Oklahoma with a series of trick plays and won our hearts.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:15 PM on December 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Nice timely post (for me, anyway.) My school's team (Ohio State) is pretty conservative on the play calling, so I never get to see fun things like this. Oh, well, most people don't.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:21 PM on December 5, 2009


The swinging gate looks like a real loser to me. If the guy covering the quarterback makes his tackle or slows him down, that play is going nowhere.

Yeah, but when you're out of ammunition and are forced to lead a bayonet charge while you still have the advantage of higher ground, it can produce some surprising results.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:12 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


For wacky football goodness, few games have topped the fourth quarter of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl , where upstart Boise State defeated mighty Oklahoma with a series of trick plays and won our hearts.

I'm still mad that I turned this game off at half time and went to bed, not wanting to see Boisie look like they didn't deserve the Bowl game after all.

Very cool post.
posted by gladly at 1:33 PM on December 5, 2009


That Statue of Liberty play linked is actually sort of clumsy. This play from Boise State is a little clearer (also with bonus hook and lateral, from the same game!)
posted by muddgirl at 2:46 PM on December 5, 2009


Coach Eric Taylor of the Dillon Panthers appeared to be running some kind of shotgun spread / triple option / zone read / speed option / wildcat hybrid to great effect in the fourth quarter of his game this week...

Certainly you mean coach Eric Taylor of the East Dillon Lions!
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 3:40 PM on December 5, 2009


I love trick plays. The thing is, you need a good deal of practice, and you need some pretty good players on your team. One reason why they happen so rarely in the pros is, as mentioned above, you've got, most likely, 11 players on the defense just as skilled and athletic as the players on your side.

Unless you're the Bears, in which case your trick plays are doomed to failure and ridicule, causing your fans shame and heartache. I don't think a single trick play the Bears have run this year has worked, from the botched direct snap in week 1 (I think) trying to catch too many defenders on the field, to pretty much any of the attempts at an end-around with Devin Hester (average gain: -2 yards).

The NFL has an amazing power to lift and elevate the emotions of its fans. That, or depress them horribly.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:50 PM on December 5, 2009


Best trick play of the year (sort of): the Washington Redskins come out on fourth and forever (20), then shift formations (essentially declaring the fake). Then they realize something's wrong and call a timeout. Then they come back out, and line up in a field goal formation. Then shift to a punt formation. Then throw a TD pass from the punter to the fullback.

It was probably the worst designed and worst executed fake punt/field goal in NFL history, and the Broncos still managed to let it go for a TD. My only guess is that they screwed up so many times that they actually confused Denver into thinking that nobody would be stupid enough to try the fake kick at that point.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 4:11 PM on December 5, 2009


"Senator, what kind of offense does your team run? I don't know any coaches, but the Xs and Os really fascinate me.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:37 AM on December 5 [+] [!] "


Run out of three main formations. Single Wing - much more traditional looking than the wildcat of today, Wishbone, and the Wing T. Total plays - about 23. Rep them until they are so ingrained in muscle memory, they will NEVER forget them as long as they live.
posted by Senator at 5:12 PM on December 5, 2009


I used to love trick plays, and then I went to a college with a not very good team. The coach knew he was outmatched, so he would do fancy things like fake punts or reverses or laterals. And they would NEVER work, and often would backfire. Typical radio call: "And Smith is waiting to snap the ball and... it's a fake! Smith holds onto the ball and drops back to pass and... it's intercepted!!! And Miami runs the balls back for a touchdown. What a crushing blow to the Rutgers offense which was just trying to hang in there."
posted by smackfu at 5:38 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was just about to post the Redskins fake punt TD vs Denver. It was odd, given that the usual gadget play the Skins run is a reverse pass from Randle El. but hell, the weirdest part was the Redskins scoring a touchdown at all.

The NE Patriots ran a pretty sweet statue of liberty play vs Jacksonville in the 07 playoffs. (Why must all these videos crank up awful loud music partway through? sorry about that.)
posted by citron at 5:55 PM on December 5, 2009


Certainly you mean coach Eric Taylor of the East Dillon Lions!

You're right... I'm just having a hard time adjusting to that red hat... effing McCoys...
posted by nathancaswell at 7:34 PM on December 5, 2009


The NE Patriots ran a pretty sweet statue of liberty play vs Jacksonville in the 07 playoffs.

That's more of a fake direct snap than a statue of liberty. The Pats run a direct snap to Faulk every once in a while that looks exactly like this... Faulk motions in and Brady does that over the top pretending-to-jump-for-a-bad-snap move while Faulk cuts in front of him and swipes the snap... the play they ran against Jacksonville is just the fake off the play that I linked to.

Riddles wrapped in enimagas wrapped in some mysteries...
posted by nathancaswell at 7:42 PM on December 5, 2009


...which is even more badass because it means they were setting up the fake they called on Jacksonville literally for years... saving it for the right moment.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:50 PM on December 5, 2009


I remember reading a piece a while back that argued, no question, that it was almost always better to take the fourth down than to punt. Never found much data on this, but a bit of thinking shows it at least plausible.
posted by effugas at 7:52 PM on December 5, 2009


Yeah effugas, there's a high school team that never punts. The slightly watered down version is going for it on fourth and short, especially between the 40 yard lines where you're too far to kick a field goal, to close to punt, and still have some field behind you to defend if it doesn't work... that's starting to catch on in the NFL but only a few coaches (read: Belichick) have the balls / clout within the organization to resist the storm of criticism that comes with even more unconventional, if statistically superior, decisions (ie 4th and 2 gate).
posted by nathancaswell at 7:56 PM on December 5, 2009


4th and 2.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:57 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


My favorite: 15 laterals. What really makes this play special, in addition to what happens on the field, is the play call. The play-by-play guy calls it pretty straight up until it becomes apparent that the play will result in a touchdown. At that point, both the guys in the booth become screaming fans. Their excitement really carries the play.
posted by Doohickie at 9:59 PM on December 5, 2009


And not a trick play but just.... whoa.
posted by Doohickie at 10:04 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Laterals? How about The Play (PAC-10 after all). Bonus: check out how stoned the announcer is in this 1982 clip.
posted by msalt at 10:46 PM on December 5, 2009


cubby: A Tecmo Superbowl flea flicker touchdown is one of the most hilariously satisfying gaming experiences of all time, because it always works!

I hate to sound so nerdy, but any competent Tecmo-er can shut down flea flickers to cause a fumble or loss of yards every time.
posted by meadowlark lime at 12:04 AM on December 6, 2009


Citrus Freak: If the majority of plays were like this in football, I might actually take an interest in it.
Back in the olden days, a forward pass was a weird trick play.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 2:32 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a fantastic post to go through on an NFL morning while sippin' coffee. Thanks!
posted by davelog at 6:12 AM on December 6, 2009


"The Bounce": 1982, Wisconsin vs. Illinois: Badger quarterback bounces a lateral to wide receiver Al Toon in the backfield, who turns and hits the tight end in the endzone! I guess this is technically a baroque Fumblerooskie.
posted by escabeche at 7:25 AM on December 6, 2009


So I have a question about The Play. What would the referee's ruling have been if the band members had had the presence of mind to bring down the ball-carrier, or hold him long enough to get tackled by the defense?
posted by escabeche at 8:54 AM on December 6, 2009


What would the referee's ruling have been if the band members had had the presence of mind to bring down the ball-carrier, or hold him long enough to get tackled by the defense?

That's like pointing out inconsistencies or logic holes in a time travel movie... just don't go there... it'll spoil your enjoyment of it.



really though, I have no idea.. forfeit?
posted by nathancaswell at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2009


I'm not sure about football, but often sports have a generic rule called something like "gross misconduct" with a penalty of "whatever the ref wants". It's to cover a situation like someone on the sidelines tackling a player to save a touchdown. By the regular rules, that would probably just be some normal penalty at the spot of the foul or something, so it would actually be a viable play. So they need some way to penalize it more harshly if they think people are abusing the rules.
posted by smackfu at 9:10 AM on December 6, 2009


The greatest Hook and Lateral (skip to 4 mins in if you're impatient). 1981 playoffs. Miami was down 24-0 to the Chargers in the first quarter, and this brought them to 24-17 at halftime. They'd go on to lose the game in OT in one of the best football games ever played.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:39 AM on December 6, 2009


So I have a question about The Play. What would the referee's ruling have been if the band members had had the presence of mind to bring down the ball-carrier, or hold him long enough to get tackled by the defense?

I'm not sure about football, but often sports have a generic rule called something like "gross misconduct" with a penalty of "whatever the ref wants". It's to cover a situation like someone on the sidelines tackling a player to save a touchdown. By the regular rules, that would probably just be some normal penalty at the spot of the foul or something, so it would actually be a viable play. So they need some way to penalize it more harshly if they think people are abusing the rules.

Indeed in the 1954 Cotton Bowl, the ref did award Rice a touchdown when an Alabama player came off the bench to make a tackle.

I assume refs have that kind of power still, but I can't think of a situation where they would've needed to have used such discretion. So in "the band" game, if they just scored it according to the rule book, I guess the Stanford sideline would get an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty, and Cal would get an untimed down 15 yards up field from where the player was tackled.
posted by mreleganza at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


A friend writing a cover story of the local HS powerhouse (and last year's State Champs) for the alt weekly found me at a high school football game for the first time in over 20 years.

I rarely watch football (Super Bowl, maybe), but checked in on the NFL a few times today, and then came to this post on the Blue.

Awesome post, starman; it couldn't have hit me at a better time.
posted by makabampow at 4:56 PM on December 6, 2009


So I have a question about The Play. What would the referee's ruling have been if the band members had had the presence of mind to bring down the ball-carrier, or hold him long enough to get tackled by the defense?

Palpably Unfair Acts, though the don't discuss the Stanford Band Play.

Probably, the refs would have directly awarded the TD, but had they thought there was a defender close enough to make the tackle, they would have had the power to award the distance penalty and untimed down mreleganza suggests.
posted by stevis23 at 6:28 AM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


There was an amazing fake punt this year — I don't remember who pulled it off — that fooled the defense so well that the punter was running downfield alongside the defenders for a while before they realized there'd been no punt. Anyone know who that was?
posted by papercake at 7:26 AM on December 7, 2009


Papercake, I remember the one you're talking about, I'm pretty sure it was against the Raiders...
posted by nathancaswell at 11:08 AM on December 7, 2009


Ugh. The Fake Field Goal. The St Louis Rams pulled out that trick and caught the Detroit Lions off guard with that one recently.

I'm still bummed out about the Lions losing that game, but the Week 11 game against the Cleveland Browns made up for it. The last 5 minutes of that game were great.
posted by drstein at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2009


If the majority of plays were like this in football, I might actually take an interest in it.

A "trick play" ceases to be a trick when it becomes sufficiently common. (cf. cyclopsis raptor's comment about the forward pass.) If, for example, 20% of apparent punts were actually first down tries, the fake punt would cease to be considered a trick play and teams would regularly prepare for it.

Also, a lot of these trick plays are relatively easy to defend against if you know they're coming, or are likely to come. Their success comes largely from their surprise value, which in turn depends upon their rarity. An example: the kicking team recovers an expected onside kick only about 12% of the time, which is why it is largely seen as a desparation move. A surprise onside kick is recovered by the kicking team about half the time. So why don't teams attempt a "surprise" onside kick more often? Naturally, if a team attempts this with any frequency (more than a few times a season), it ceases to be a surprise, opposing teams will use the same formation against all kickoffs of that team that they would for expected onside kicks, leading to a marked decrease in the success of such kicks.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:51 AM on December 8, 2009


Yeah, what DevilsAdvocate said. MuddDude played high school football, and as a second-string center he had to run a lot of plays that the scouts identified as common for the opposing team that week. Sometimes that would include a trick play like the Swinging Gate, and the first-string defense would be specifically drilled on that play. So the defense muddle shown in the video is bad scouting more than anything.
posted by muddgirl at 7:19 AM on December 8, 2009


I'm late the to the party, my partisan favorite is LSU's over the shoulder fake field goal.
posted by turbodog at 2:10 PM on December 8, 2009


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