In the third quarter, the Colts sent the punt unit to the field facing fourth-and-3 from their own 37-yard line. With 15 seconds on the play clock, they broke formation and instead lined up with eight players bunched near the line of scrimmage on the right side of the field and punter Pat McAfee behind them. Receiver Griff Whalen lined up as the snapper with safety Colt Anderson behind him. Anderson took the snap and was promptly swarmed by the New England defense.
The Patriots scored a touchdown six plays later, helping seal their 34–27 win.
“I take responsibility there,” Pagano said. “The whole idea there was, on a fourth-and-3 or less, shift to an alignment where you either catch them misaligned, they try to sub some people in, catch them with 12 men on the field. If you get a certain look, three yards, two yards, you can make a play. But again, we shifted over, and I didn’t do a good enough job coaching it during the week.
“Alignment-wise, we weren’t lined up correctly and then a communication breakdown between the quarterback and snapper. That’s all on me. I take full responsibility on that, and I didn’t do a good enough job getting that communicated to the guys. Obviously, it played in a huge factor in this loss.”
McAfee called it “one of the most failed fakes probably of all time,” and Whalen labeled it a miscommunication between the players on the field and the coaches.
With the loss, the Colts fell to 3–3 while the Patriots improved to 5–0. Indianapolis will next play the New Orleans Saints in Week 7.
- Erin Flynn