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At Least The Patriots Had A Neat Blocked Field Goal

Jason Sanders has his field goal attempt blocked by Brenden Schooler
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are feeling bad today. With a 24-17 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday night—one that ended with a lateral to an offensive lineman who just barely failed to reach the first down marker—they've fallen to 0-2 for the first time in over two decades. After such a long stretch of success, the Pats will be fighting uphill just to get into the playoffs, where they haven't even won a game since the 2018 season. Their offense, stuck in limbo since the departure of Tom Brady, still hasn't found a spark, and they managed only three points through the game's first 48 minutes on Sunday

But there was still one moment that had a quintessential Patriots feel to it, when an innovative strategy paid dividends. New England was battling both the clock and a 14-point deficit when Miami's Jason Sanders lined up for a 49-yard field goal. As everyone held still before the snap, viewers saw Brenden Schooler run across the left boundary of their screen like a streaker trying to escape security. Just as the Dolphins snapped the ball, Schooler made a sharp turn into the backfield, catching the blockers flat-footed as he smothered the ball as soon as Sanders made contact. The Pats would recover and ... go on to throw an interception. But that's not the point! It was cool.

Here's another good angle on the block:

Neither man in the NBC booth could think of a precedent for this play, but Schooler himself has already made about as much of a name as a special teamer can. An undrafted free agent signed last year, Schooler made multiple recoveries of fumbles and blocked punts in 2022, but he goofed up after one of them when he tried to gift the ball to his dour head coach.

Schooler's zoomies have an obvious counter: Don't snap the ball at the exact perfect moment for the defender to get a running start into the backfield. Still, you're almost guaranteed to see this attempted, if not pulled off, in the near future, and kicking units are going to need to adapt with improved peripheral vision to avoid welcoming these intruders with open arms. The Patriots may not have an all-time great quarterback anymore, or a revolutionary tight end, or most of the other on-field pieces that helped them become a dynasty. But they can take comfort in the fact that they can still find the scrappy little role players that announcers love to fawn over. As long as they still lose, they can have 'em.

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