Greatness is often found in expected places. Sometimes, the iconic plays that burn themselves into your memory do indeed come from MVP quarterbacks in high-stakes playoff games. But sometimes the best that football has to offer arrives out of nowhere, striking you unexpectedly like a framed picture falling off your wall at 4 a.m.
In the case of Thursday night’s Ravens-Dolphins game, you can find yourself squinting at the box score the next morning, wondering if it was just your imagination. Thankfully, even if the NFL’s official stance is that it never happened, video proof exists of Robert Hunt’s touchdown. You should watch it before I describe it to you.
The first thing you need to know that makes this play so special is that the game was 6-3 in the fourth quarter. Not only that, but every single drive in the second half up to this point had ended in a punt. It was brutal. It was horrible. It was a compelling argument against the existence of the NFL and of television. But then, on third and goal, the Dolphins ran a screen play, intending to get the ball in the hands of Myles Gaskin. Instead, as Tua Tagovailoa lofted a pass into a sea of players from both teams, it ended up in the possession of Hunt, an offensive lineman. Though he was an ineligible receiver, Hunt took off in pursuit of a score anyway. He maneuvered his way past a block, and then, in an amazing display of pointless determination, he reached out and did a halfway flip at the goal line as he was being tackled. You ever see a man this big suddenly turn upside down? Well, now you have.
“After I saw the ball, I didn’t want it to get intercepted so I grabbed it and took off running with it,” Hunt said after the game. “I was trying to win, at that point. Even though it didn’t count, it didn’t click in my head that it didn’t count. I just tried to score.”
Hunt’s enthusiasm ended up costing the Dolphins five yards instead of giving them six points, because it was illegal for him to catch the pass in the first place. Miami would have to settle for a field goal, though they did return a fumble for a touchdown on the next Ravens drive and ended up winning the game 22-10.
Particularly in light of the fact that it had zero effect on the game’s ultimate outcome, I think Hunt’s touchdown is a prime candidate for an expansion of what we here at Defector call the Anantharaman Amendment—the idea that cool plays should be unreviewable. Hunt’s not-a-touchdown was so obviously against the rules that it didn’t even need a review, but it was so cool, in a game that was so uncool, that it simply must count, no matter what.
In my mind, which is canon to me, the Dolphins won this game 26-10. But, surprise surprise, the No Fun League has “standards” and “norms” and would never even dream of such a thing. Hunt will have to settle for an elevator door decorated in his honor.