Regarding the Butt Fumble…

Regarding the Butt Fumble A.M. Sportstalk Podcast

On a cool Thanksgiving night in 2012, the New England Patriots and the New York Jets squared off in front of a crowd of over 79,000 fans at MetLife Stadium.

There was nothing particularly noteworthy to be gained by either team with a victory, as the Pats had a 3 game lead over Gang Green in the division standings. The game started uneventfully, with a scoreless 1st quarter. The Pats had driven deep into Jets territory by the end of it, and Quarterback Tom Brady started the scoring in the 2nd with a short pass to Wes Welker on the first play to put the Pats up 6-0, with an extra point kicked by Stephen Gostkowski to make it 7-0.

The Jets would get a good kickoff return of 37 yards to start their next drive, and they made it all the way to the New England 31 before linebacker Brandon Spikes forced a fumble on a running play up the middle that was recovered by defensive back Steve Gregory. The Patriots wasted no time making the Jets pay for the blunder, as Shane Vereen caught a short pass to the left from Brady and scampered all the way to the end zone for an 83 yard score. The kick through the uprights was good, and the Pats were now up 14-0. Unfortunately for the Jets, the pain was just beginning.

After a touchback kickoff by Gostkowski, the Jets QB Mark Sanchez started things off ok, with an 11 yard pass for a first down. On the next play however, Sanchez muffed a handoff to Fullback Lex Hilliard by mistakenly turning right instead of left, as the play had called for. Sanchez then tried to make the best of a bad situation, as he attempted to run it himself. At the same time, Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork had locked horns with Jets right guard Brandon Moore, and Sanchez had run out of real estate, so he decided to slide instead of taking a hit from one of the Patriots bruisers on the line. As he did he went helmet first into the guard’s rear end, and immediately lost possession of the football, as Moore tumbled on top of him.

Steve Gregory was having a good day, probably the best of his career, as the dislodged pigskin bounced right in front of him. He picked it up and dashed to the endzone to give the Pats a 20 point edge, and Gostkowski put another one through the uprights to make it 21 nil. For New York Jets fans it seems, the torture never stops, as Joe McKnight would drop the ball on the ensuing kickoff, with Julian Edelman catching it in the air and scrambling into the Jets end zone to make it 28-0, after Gostkowski booted another through, of course.

Jets coach Rex Ryan was having a conniption on the sidelines, as I’m sure many Jets fans were that day. He was seen visibly mouthing the phrase “un-@#$%ing believable” on TV. As luck would have it, this writer was at that game, and I was having the time of my life watching all the Jets fan sulk, booing heartily, and many even starting to leave the game even though it was only early in the second quarter. The Patriots had scored 3 times in 52 seconds, and the hometown crowd was flabbergasted. The fans that were left called for coach Ryan to put backup and christian athlete extraordinaire Tim Tebow into the game.

New England would add on another score before half-time, as Julian Edelman caught a 56 yard pass from Brady, to make it 35 to 0. The Jets would get their first 3 points on a Nick Folk Field goal right before the gun, but the fans had had enough, emptying out the stadium and hoping that maybe they could salvage the holiday by heading home to have a hot turkey sandwich.

The sad thing was, Lenny Kravitz was there for the half-time show, and he played his new song called Jets, in honor of his favorite gridiron team. It was an excellent little gig, although it was extremely loud, but nobody was really left there to hear it. “Fireman” Ed Anzalone, the Jets mascot and number one fan, was one of the rooters who left in disgust. He was also upset with the way the fans were treating him for supporting QB Sanchez, while most fans were calling for the player’s head. Well…Mark would headbutt someone’s butt and fumble, and that would come to define his playing career for all-time, so maybe the other fans had a point.

The Jets would score 2 touchdowns and net a safety in the 2nd half, but the Pats would add two of their own TDs in the 4th quarter. The contest, though, was all butt decided after the infamous play and antics that transpired in the 2nd. The final score was 49-19, but this was a rout of epic proportions, and never as close as the score made it seem.

New England would go on to a rematch against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship. The Blackbirds, led by linebacker Ray Lewis in his final NFL season, would avenge their 23-20 heartbreaking loss against the Patriots on a missed field goal with 15 seconds left the previous AFC championship, winning 28-13 on their way to a 34-31 Superbowl victory over Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Jets would languish, finishing 6-10, and Mark Sanchez did not let the door hit him on the way out, as he was cast aside to make way for the newly drafted Geno Smith. Sanchez was only 26 at the time, but he would never be a full-time starter again, and he left the NFL after the 2018 season. For Pats fans, it was the best of times, and for Gang Green, it was the worst of times, but neither side will ever forget the Butt Fumble on Turkey Day.

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