The Butt Fumble

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Posted: September 24, 2017


For many football fans, the New York Jets are the epitome of mediocrity. On Thanksgiving Day, 2012, the Jets provided the world with yet another comical incident that was fitting of their over-the-top failure over the years, a hilarious fumble that is probably the most embarrassing play in NFL history. Playing the New England Patriots and already trailing 14-0 in the second quarter, the Jets gained possession but as Quarterback Mark Sanchez drove forward in a crowded area he ran face first into the butt of one of his own defenders. He fumbled the ball leading to a Patriots recovery and a 32-yard touchdown for the Pats. The patriots would go on to win the game 49-19. The play was christened the Butt Fumble.

Buildup to the Butt Fumble

The Jets were having a characteristic season so far heading into week 12, stuck in mid-table obscurity with a 4-6 record. They had beaten the St. Louis Rams on the road the previous week. The Patriots on the other hand were top of the division with a 7-3 record and had beaten the Indianapolis Colts the week before. The game started quietly, with the first quarter ending scoreless. In the second quarter, the Patriots rushed out to a 14- 0 lead thanks to a touchdown from Wes Walker and another from Shane Vereen, both resulting from disastrous defending from the Jets. A touchback resulted in the Jets getting possession and Sanchez passed 11 yards to Clyde Gates, leaving the jets with a first and 10 on their 31-yard line, with 9:10 remaining in the game.

The Butt Fumble Unfolds

A break in play ensued after a failed handoff to Lex Hilliard, forcing Sanchez to improvise. He inexplicably rushed forward towards the line of scrimmage seemingly blind to a sea of bodies in front of him and as he slid to avoid a collision, his face bumped into the backside of Jets right guard Brandon Moore who was battling with Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. The impact disorientated Sanchez, who let go of the ball. The ball bounced away from his clutch near the 32 yard line where Patriots safety Steve Gregory picked it up and ran straight to the Jets’ end zone. Sanchez, realizing the gravity of his mistake, lay on the ground burying his face in his arms as the rest of the play unfolded.

Aftermath of the Butt Fumble

The Jets continued to offer little resistance to the strong Patriots offense, with further errors leading to a 49-19 washout. The rest of Sanchez’s game was relatively strong, completing 26 of his 36 pass attempts for a total of 301 yards. He also made a touchdown and one interception. In a postmatch interview, Sanchez attributed the error to bad luck and hoped that one day he would be able to laugh about it. Moore told reporters that he did not find the play funny and expressed annoyance at the comical reactions that had flooded the internet. Fumbling had been a characteristic weakness of Sanchez’s game and Jets coaches worked with him to cut down on the fumbles. The play continued to be an online sensation for weeks after the game and perhaps most notably was voted “Worst of the Worst” play on SportCenter’s “Not Top-10” segment 40 weeks in a row.

The Butt Fumble Unfolds

A break in play ensued after a failed handoff to Lex Hilliard, forcing Sanchez to improvise. He inexplicably rushed forward towards the line of scrimmage seemingly blind to a sea of bodies in front of him and as he slid to avoid a collision, his face bumped into the backside of Jets right guard Brandon Moore who was battling with Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. The impact disorientated Sanchez, who let go of the ball. The ball bounced away from his clutch near the 32 yard line where Patriots safety Steve Gregory picked it up and ran straight to the Jets’ end zone. Sanchez, realizing the gravity of his mistake, lay on the ground burying his face in his arms as the rest of the play unfolded.

Aftermath of the Butt Fumble

The Jets continued to offer little resistance to the strong Patriots offense, with further errors leading to a 49-19 washout. The rest of Sanchez’s game was relatively strong, completing 26 of his 36 pass attempts for a total of 301 yards. He also made a touchdown and one interception. In a postmatch interview, Sanchez attributed the error to bad luck and hoped that one day he would be able to laugh about it. Moore told reporters that he did not find the play funny and expressed annoyance at the comical reactions that had flooded the internet. Fumbling had been a characteristic weakness of Sanchez’s game and Jets coaches worked with him to cut down on the fumbles. The play continued to be an online sensation for weeks after the game and perhaps most notably was voted “Worst of the Worst” play on SportCenter’s “Not Top-10” segment 40 weeks in a row.

 

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