Anatomy Of A Gutsy Play

Posted Oct 14, 2012

Gutsy call on special teams saved the game.

Having been on the other end of a surprise play earlier this season, the Miami Dolphins decided to turn the tables at the most crucial time of Sunday’s 17-14 win over the St. Louis Rams – with a fake punt.

Nobody on the Rams saw it coming when with 4:15 remaining in a tight game and Miami facing a fourth-and-1, Dolphins safety Chris Clemons took a direct snap from long snapper John Denney and darted through a hole on the left side. He gained three yards to the 43, easily picking up the first down and allowing the offense to burn off another two minutes and 26 seconds of clock.

“I actually didn’t know that he had called it on that one,” punter Brandon Fields said of Clemons. “He’s supposed to let me know in some way, shape or form. I knew (special teams coordinator Darren) Rizzi had given him the option to call it if the look was there and I saw the look was there. I try to make the read too just so I know if we’re doing it or not I have to be ready so once John snapped him the ball I knew I wasn’t punting anymore.

Fields still went through the kicking motion in order to carry through the fake and throw off the other Rams special teams players and he had seen the play work in practice. Even though Clemons hadn’t rushed the ball since high school, the odds of success were in Miami’s favor.

For Clemons, he couldn’t help but smile after the game knowing that in addition to making some big tackles on defense, his biggest contribution was that 3-yard run that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. And he admitted afterwards that all of the signs for the play to work were not necessarily there.

“(Rizzi) gave me the call but it’s my option to check out of it if I see a different look and to be honest with you, it was a different look I was supposed to check out of,” Clemons said. “But my mind was so made up and I had confidence in my guys up front and all game the gap had been open so I just called it. It was open and it was something we worked on all week and all of our guys blocked up front.”

Fields saw the impact that play had on the Rams at that moment and there were indications their morale had taken a big hit.

“That’s the play right there that wins game,” Fields said. “It’s demoralizing for them because they were thinking they were getting the ball back with more than four minutes to play. So the fact that we were able to eat up so much more time and pin them deep, now they had to start scrambling.”
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