There’s only one constant in football: teams getting burned by playing the prevent defense late in games. Otherwise, there’s no end to what you might see on the gridiron. And this year proved it. Seems like every week somebody was pulling a wacky trick play. And it wasn’t just the big boys. It started at the Little Giants level. So for your entertainment, we’ve compiled a list of the 11 craziest trick football plays of 2010, not all of which went quite as planned. Try not to jump offsides with giddiness.
11. Michigan State’s Fake Field Goal
Speaking of Little Giants, that was the name of this play, which Michigan State used to give Notre Dame its second of many losses in 2010. This play call was made gutsier because it took place in OT, when a field goal would have tied it — a real all-or-nothing move. And the play was literally heart-stopping; Sparty coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack shortly afterward. (He’s fine now.)
10. Watauga’s Back Handsprings Play
OK, so this one didn’t actually work. And sure, the North Carolina high school player who attempted it and his coach were immediately (and unfairly) ejected for excessive celebration. But still, we have to hand it to them for creativity. This would also be a good play to run if your team ever picked up Kerri Strug.
9. Presbyterian’s Bounce Rooski
This play had a huge degree of difficulty. But hey, when you’re playing your first game against a BCS school and you’re already getting killed, why not break out the party tricks?
8. New York Jets’ Fake Punt
This was a great fake by Jets punter Steve Weatherford. Had everybody fooled, including his own special teams coach, who said, “He got excited, caught it, and went with it. He shouldn’t have done it.” Amazingly, Weatherford ran for 16 yards. Unfortunately, it was fourth and 18.
7. Anonymous White Soccer Team’s Penalty Shot
Different football. And we’re pretty sure this wasn’t intentional. But for the goalkeeper, it’s a lesson learned the hard way: you gotta finish the play.
6. New Orleans’ Onside Kick
This was the first big trick play of the year. It was also the riskiest Super Bowl stunt since Justin Timberlake introduced Janet Jackson’s nipple to the world. Unlike that move, this one required no apologies, catapulting Sean Payton’s squad to a 31-17 Super Bowl XLIV win. To review: Ballsiest. Super Bowl. Call. Ever.
5. Texas Tech‘s Onside Kick
Of course, not every sneaky onside kick is a winner. During a game that was tied 7-7 in the first quarter, this one backfired in the most direct way possible. Pay special attention to the moment of cartoonish indecision by the Red Raiders as the ball lies not…dead…yet on the turf.
4. Cleveland’s Fake Punt
The Browns haven’t had many highlights this year, but this was one of them. On fourth and long from inside their own 25 against the Saints, Reggie Hodges caught the snap, took one “punter-like” step and then booked it through an enormous hole. He didn’t stop until he reached the New Orleans 10-yard-line, and the Browns went on to win 30-17. Score one for the Mangenius.
3. LSU’s Flip-Over-the-Shoulder Play
The ball bounced right for LSU coach Les Miles on a number of occasions this year. None more so than on this interminably reviewed play against Florida with 35 seconds on the clock and the Bayou Bengals trailing by three points. Twenty-three game-clock seconds later, LSU scored a TD to win 33-29. We can’t confirm this is why Urban Meyer retired.
2. Pearland Oilers’ “Dead Man” Play
It’s one thing to run a trick play in a meaningless game. It’s another to do it in the state championship, versus the No. 1-ranked team, in a billion-dollar stadium. But that’s what the Pearland Oilers did when they ran this crappily videotaped maneuver against Euless Trinity at Cowboys Stadium, helping them secure a 28-24 win, an undefeated season and a Texas 5A title. The only thing that would have made this sweeter is if it had come against Pearland’s arch rival, Apricotville.
1. Driscoll Middle School’s “Walking Off Five Yards” Play
How does a Texas middle school football team get 14 million views on YouTube? Like this. We love how the beefy quarterback was nice enough to body language his inner monologue as it was going on: “Easy… easy… easy… don’t worry, they don’t know yet… couple more steps… Now!” Also, how the pint-sized defensive back almost catches him. And how his teammates celebrate by decking him in the end zone.
(Shawn Donnelly is a writer living in New York. He’s currently working on a novel titled Weird Sandwiches. You can follow him at twitter.com/shawndonnelly9.)