Fun one for you today. Ex-punter Pat McAfee, retired now and living in a van down by the river, went on his podcast to talk about the time Troy Polamalu screwed him out of a fake field goal touchdown. I’ll show you the clip below, summarize it, and then we’ll go check out the actual play.
Here’s a link to McAfee’s account. Fair warning, some NSFW language in there. Speakers down, headphones in, people.
Essentially, the Colts’ film study showed that inside the seven with the ball on the left hash, the Steelers always left the left side (from the field goal’s point of view) C gap wide open. So the Colts had a check that if they got to that situation, they would run a fake with the holder, McAfee, for what should be an easy touchdown.
McAfee says that when he got to his second cadence, about to snap the ball, Polamalu sensed something was different and for the first time, covered the C gap. McAfee, a Pittsburgh native whose family was there to watch the game (it was at Heinz Field), had to quickly abort the fake field goal attempt by literally screaming “We are kicking it!”
Because we have that kind of time on our hands here at Steelers Depot, here’s the play. End of the first half back in 2014. Colts are down 35-17 so the fake would’ve been a huge momentum swing going into the break. The cameras don’t catch everything but you can see McAfee giving out some signals, presumably that they’re running the fake, pre-snap.
That may have been the tip off for Polamalu. Because as McAfee says, here is Troy lined up where he *shouldn’t* be, forcing the Colts back into their field goal.
We don’t have footage of him walking over to the other side but you can see the gap he vacated to the left.
And here is the Steelers’ field goal block team several weeks earlier in the same situation. There’s Polamalu…on the other side, away from the C gap. Where he always lined up.
Somehow, Polamalu got the sense the Colts were going to run the fake. And had he not been there, there’s a good chance it would’ve worked. The Steelers were overloading the other side and an end-of-half fake is probably the last thing anyone is expecting.
It’s just another example of the elite instincts Troy showed on a weekly basis. And why he’s a future Hall of Famer.