Often, the third phase of football – special teams – is overlooked. This is not the case in New England, however, as Bill Belichick has consistently invested in this area of the game throughout his tenure with the Patriots. His emphasis on that part of the game was a defining moment in the Patriots’ 24-17 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday night.
After Tua Tagovailoa’s pass on third-and-11 fell incomplete in the final minutes of the third quarter, Miami lined up for a 49-yard field goal that would have put them up by three scores and effectively iced the match at this stage. However, that’s when New England deployed a rare blocking attempt in which senior special teamer Brenden Schooler ran parallel to the line of scrimmage toward center and then scrambled to the backfield just as the ball was snapped to run essentially untouched. kicker Jason Sanders and blocks the kick.
“As soon as the ball was snapped and I felt momentum, carrying it, I just knew I was going to get there and I just wanted to make sure I had a hand on the ball or something that would allow me to stop the ball and hopefully one of us got it and ignited the offensive spark,” Schooler said of the play after the game.
This sideline angle really shows off Schooler’s technique and how he timed his jump off the line of scrimmage perfectly.
While it’s not entirely uncommon — the Patriots had a similar formation on a blocked punt against the Colts last season — it’s rare to see a team attempt this type of field goal block, let alone execute it. Schooler himself admitted that he had never seen this concept before, but he trusted the coaching staff when installing it.
“I don’t think I would have imagined this play,” Schooler said, “so it’s a credit to our coaching staff, because when they drafted it and told us what we were doing, I I said to myself, “I trust them.” but I’ve never seen anything like this before. I mean, it was great to see the new innovative games that they have, and then to go there, execute them and create a play for your team.”
Although impressive, the Patriots were unable to take full advantage of this blocked field goal. After recovering the ball at midfield, New England knocked on the door to the red zone but Mac Jones’ deep throw to DeVante Parker was intercepted by Xavien Howard and eliminated the scoring opportunity. The Patriots were able to score on two of their next three drives, but ultimately came up short against the Dolphins and fell to 0-2 on the year.
However, when it comes to the blocked field goal, imitation is the greatest form of flattery in the NFL. So it will be interesting to see how quickly other teams around the league attempt to install a similar type of blocking attempt in the coming weeks. .