Most fans of professional football that don’t live in or have family ties to Boston hate the New England Patriots. Those people are very happy on this late-season Sunday.
It looked like a Patriots win was all but secured as the game clock ticked into its final seconds during an afternoon match-up against the Miami Dolphins. But that’s when it happened, a real-deal NFL miracle. The “Miami Miracle,” as it’s now been dubbed.
Miami, down by 5 points with just seven seconds to go, delivered the most unexpected touchdown play. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see at the end of a sports movie, when the underdog team completely trips up the reigning champs by pulling off a trick play that nobody saw coming.
This is one of those obscure pro football rules that most people, even casual fans, don’t necessarily know about. In the NFL, forward passes can only happen from behind the line of scrimmage — the place where players set up before a play begins. But lateral passes, which don’t move the ball further down the field, can happen anywhere and at any time after a play has begun.
That’s what you’re seeing here: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill let the ball fly to his waiting receiver, Kenny Stills. It looked like a dead play right there, with Stills facing an imminent tackle as soon as he took possession of the ball.
That’s not how things went though! Stills dumped the ball to a nearby player, who then tossed it again to another nearby player. The dizzying few seconds of action caught the Patriots by surprise and opened the door for Miami to score a final touchdown on the last play, multiple seconds after the game clock hit zero.
It’s the kind of football maneuver that transcends fandom and goes down in history. You don’t have to fully understand the sport to appreciate what happened here. The replay video tells the whole story.
Predictably, this brief, made-for-the-movies moment drew a loud and excited response on social media.
The Dolphins are chanting “Ted” in the locker room, referring to Ted Larsen, who sprung the game winning block for Kenyan Drake.
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) December 9, 2018
Ryan Tannehill said the Dolphins call that final play “Boise.” It’s the same one Boise State used against Oklahoma in that legendary Fiesta Bowl, though Tannehill admitted they ran it “a little cleaner” than Miami did.
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) December 9, 2018