The Colts tried the “swinging gate” formation Sunday vs. the Patriots despite having a replacement player at snapper who had never practiced the play, according to Colts punter Pat McAfee.
“The gunner who then became the center all week was Clayton Geathers,” McAfee said Tuesday in an appearance on “The Bob & Tom Show,” a syndicated radio program. “Clayton Geathers gets injured in the second quarter. Insert Griff Whalen, who had never done it before. So Griff Whalen is now the new center in a play he’s never practiced before.”
McAfee said the Colts were trying to catch the Patriots in a personnel change with too many players on the field, but when the Patriots did not make substitutions, it forced Plan B. He also said that when the play was installed in practice, Whalen was not with the punt team but was on the other side of the field catching punts.
“We added something to try to draw them offsides if they don’t do their substitution there,” McAfee said. “Griff never got the heads-up this was happening, because it’s not in the playbook. [He’s a] Stanford guy, reads the playbook, knows everything he has to do, but if he’s not there for an audible that’s added, he can’t know.
“So, Griff has no idea that we’re going to try to draw the guy offsides, because in the play it says if we get under center, snap it. So Colt Anderson is trying to draw a guy offsides to pick up an easy 5 yards. If not, we just don’t snap it, we take the delay of game.
“Griff goes, ‘His hands aren’t supposed to be on my [backside]. If I feel him right now, I’m supposed to snap it.’ So this is a 100 percent miscommunication.”
Many Colts personnel had explained the play as a failed attempt at deception and a miscommunication, but not with the detail McAfee provided.
“We tried to trick ’em, it didn’t work out, and some news — very important news — did not get down to the person who was involved in the play,” said McAfee.
Watch McAfee’s breakdown of the play here:
McAfee also said he got an explanation from a game official on the Colts’ onside kick attempt that was reviewed and the ball awarded to the Patriots despite appearing to be recovered by a Colts player.
“He breaks it down, ‘What we called on the field was the guy was down with the ball, so anything that happens afterward, the ball coming out, we already ruled him down,’ ” said McAfee. “ ‘So did we blow the whistle early? Probably. But this was the call that we had to overturn, that he was down with the ball, so maybe we made a mistake there by blowing the whistle too early, but we couldn’t overturn it.’ ”
Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15.