10 Best Trick Plays in NFL History
The NFL trick play is arguably the biggest risk/reward play in all of sports.
When executed perfectly, it often results in seven points for the offense. If anything goes wrong, it can be a disaster.
Sometimes the trick play can make a coach look like a complete idiot. Other times, it can steal you a playoff victory or even a Super Bowl.
Here are the 10 greatest trick plays in NFL history.
10) Seattle Seahawks' Fake Field Goal Pass
Before Jim Zorn was the Washington Redskins' scapegoat of a head coach, he was a middling quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.
In the late 1970s the Seahawks became famous for their special teams fakes, whether it was surprise onside kicks or passes on fake punts and field goals.
On Monday Night Football in 1979, Seattle brought its fakes to national attention. On a supposed 55-yard field-goal attempt, Zorn popped up with the ball and delivered a strike to Efren Herrera, converting a first down deep in Atlanta Falcons territory.
The ingenuity behind the Seattle offense would aid Zorn to his best season as a quarterback in '79 and the Seahawks' best season with him at the helm.
9) New Orleans Saints' Last-Second Laterals
This New Orleans Saints' miracle series of laterals would be higher on the list if John Carney had not missed the extra point, rendering the play pointless.
While the Saints would still lose at the end of regulation, no list of trick plays is complete without this one.
On the last play of the game Aaron Brooks passed to Donte' Stallworth in the middle of the field, who lateraled to Michael Lewis, who passed to Deuce McAllister, who tossed it across the field to Jerome Pathon for the touchdown.
All John Carney had to do was hit the extra point and the game would go to overtime. Carney had not missed one in the previous eight seasons and had failed on just four other PATs in his 14-year career up to that point. I guess he was due.
8) Chicago Bears' Misdirection Punt Return
The Chicago Bears fooled every member of the Green Bay Packers punt team on a return earlier this season.
With a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Packers felt comfortable kicking to the most dangerous return man in the history of the game, Devin Hester.
But Hester did not receive the kick; Johnny Knox did. Knox ran untouched down the sideline for the touchdown—except he didn't.
A bogus holding call would bring it back, but the Bears get points for ingenuity and for finding a strategic advantage in every team's fear of Devin Hester. Had the zebra kept the hankie in his pocket, this play would be much higher on the list.
7) Dan Marino's Fake Spike
Deep in New York Jets territory with time winding down, Dan Marino gave the signal to clock the ball.
The Miami Dolphins were poised to kick the game-tying field goal and try to win the game in overtime.
Then Marino fooled everyone by passing into the front corner of the end zone, ending the game right there with the game-winning touchdown.
Points for ingenuity, execution, effectiveness and significance.
6) Minnesota Vikings' Hail Mary Hook and Ladder
There was a time when Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper were the most dangerous duo in the NFL.
It seemed like they were only scratching the surface of their potential before it all fell apart, but while it lasted the Minnesota Vikings were one of the most entertaining teams in the league.
On the last play of the game, Culpepper unleashed his cannon of a right arm to deliver a bomb, which Moss hauled down between three defenders. On his way down, Moss flipped the ball over his head to Moe Williams, who took the ball into the end zone to win the game.
Culpepper and Moss are still only 34 years old. Anyone else down for a package-deal comeback?
5) Miami Dolphins' Hook and Ladder
In one of the greatest playoff game ever, the Miami Dolphins found themselves in a quick 24-0 hole to the San Diego Chargers.
Just before halftime, it seemed they would head into the locker room down 24-10 when Don Strock fired a laser to Duriel Harris.
Harris then flipped the ball on target to running back Tony Nathan, who took it the rest of the way to pay dirt.
The Dolphins would steal momentum just before halftime and then come all the way back in a 41-38 overtime victory.
4) Miami Dolphins' Wildcat
The Miami Dolphins have a stranglehold on this trick play thing. Going in as underdogs against the New England Patriots, the Dolphins would unleash an exciting, albeit short-lived, revolution in the NFL.
It started with a simple direct snap to Ronnie Brown, who faked the handoff to Ricky Williams and then walked into the end zone.
By the end of the day, Brown would have four rushing touchdowns and a touchdown pass.
The wildcat would never have as big of an effect as it did that day, but on September 21, 2008, it was good for 38 points against Bill Belichick's defense.
3) Pittsburgh Steelers' Fake Reverse Pass
In an ugly Super Bowl, the game was still in question halfway through the third quarter when the Pittsburgh Steelers unleashed one of their famous gadget plays.
Antwaan Randle El was a record-setting quarterback at the University of Indiana before being deemed too small to be an NFL QB. In Super Bowl XL, he did what most quarterbacks never get the chance to do: throw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.
Randle El did not blow his opportunity, firing a strike to Hines Ward, who scored the touchdown, sealed the game and scooped up Super Bowl MVP honors.
Anyone who watched more than a few Steelers games that season knew the trick play was coming. I guess the Seahawks didn't get the memo.
2) New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl Onside Kick
In arguably the most unexpected play ever, the New Orleans Saints surprised everyone by going for the onside kick coming out of halftime of Super Bowl XLIV.
The Saints recovered the ball and never looked back.
After spotting the Indianapolis Colts a 10-point lead, the Saints outscored the Colts 31-7 the rest of the way. The Saints risked giving Peyton Manning a short field and a second-half lead.
New Orleans took advantage of its fortuitous kickoff, with Brees marching the Saints to a quick touchdown. Manning would respond, but that would be it for the Colts.
The Saints stole momentum and the Super Bowl from the favored Colts in what may have been Manning's last chance for a second Lombardi Trophy.
1) Tennessee Titans' Music City Miracle
If you are like me, even when a loss is staring your favorite team in the face, you keep holding out hope for a miracle. For Tennessee Titans fans, that hope came true on January 8th, 2000 in what would be known as the Music City Miracle.
The Buffalo Bills kicked a short, high ball into the hands of Lorenzo Neal, who handed the ball to Frank Wycheck. Wycheck then fired a lateral (or was it?) to Kevin Dyson, who streaked down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown at the end of regulation.
Dramatic effect, execution and playoff meaning seal the Music City Miracle's status as the greatest trick play in NFL history.