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Fake Punt Brings Back Pittsburgh Memories

Posted Jan 8, 2017

Down 20-3 in the second quarter, the Dolphins faced a fourth-and-1 from their own 41-yard line when John Denney snapped the ball directly to up-back Michael Thomas, who was able to gain 3 yards for the first down.

Unfortunately for the Dolphins, it didn’t have the same dramatic impact it did back then, but they again successfully pulled off a fake punt in a playoff game at Pittsburgh.

Down 20-3 in the second quarter, the Dolphins faced a fourth-and-1 from their own 41-yard line when John Denney snapped the ball directly to up-back Michael Thomas, who was able to gain 3 yards for the first down.

Thomas said Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi gave the go-ahead to run the fake punt if the Steelers showed the right look on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

Thomas’ run set up Andrew Franks’ second field goal of the game, cutting their deficit to 20-6.

“It was now or never at that moment,” Thomas said. “(Special teams player) Damien Wililams was probably one of the main ones trying to say, nah, we’ve got to go for it. I don’t care how many people they put in the box. Let’s go for it. We’re already down. I’m glad Rizz had enough confidence in me to run that play. We executed and got it done.”

The fake punt came a little more than 44 years after punter Larry Seiple took off on fourth down and ran 37 yards to help the Dolphins beat the Steelers in the 1972 AFC Championship Game at the old Three Rivers Stadium.

This was the first playoff rushing attempt for the Dolphins by someone other than a running back or quarterback since wide receiver Tony Martin had a 6-yard gain in the 2000 wild-card playoff victory against the Indianapolis Colts.

Thomas said it was first rushing attempt since his college days at Stanford.

“Wildcat quarterback,” Thomas said, before adding with a laugh, “till I fumbled, (I carried the ball) probably once or twice a game.”

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