There are a handful of plays in N.F.L. history that can be described in two words.
Wide Right. Helmet Catch. Immaculate Reception. And of course, Butt Fumble.
This week brought us the Butt Putt.
In the only game this weekend that featured two 2-0, the Miami Dolphins, coming off a six-touchdown game by Tua Tagovailoa, hosted the Buffalo Bills, the early Super Bowl favorites. But the game is unlikely to be remembered for fine catches, great runs or punishing sacks.
Miami had a 21-17 lead with just over a minute and a half left, but had reached fourth down deep in their own territory.
Thomas Morstead set up to punt in the end zone. The snap was fine, the catch was fine, and there seemed no reason that the kick would not be fine.
Then a split-second later it caromed off the rear end of wide receiver Trent Sherfield for a safety.
Sherfield had drifted back looking for someone to block. But considering the confined space of the end zone, he had drifted back too far, right into the path of Morstead. The ball smacked into Sherfield’s backside, popped high in the air and then back out of the end zone. The resulting 2 points for the Bills closed the gap to 2, meaning the Bills could now win with a field goal.
Except for Miami fans, the story would have been a lot better had Buffalo come back to win. Alas, time ran out on the Bills, and Miami hung on, 21-19, for a 3-0 start. They are one of only two teams with that mark in the league, along with the Philadelphia Eagles. (The Giants can join them with a win Monday night against the Cowboys.)
The most famous play involving a posterior came on Thanksgiving 2012, the infamous Butt Fumble. Quarterback Mark Sanchez of the Jets ran face first into the buttocks of his teammate Brandon Moore and fumbled. The Jets lost to the New England Patriots, 49-19.
The now retired Sanchez good-humoredly joined the chorus delighting in the latest gluteus-related incident, tweeting “Woah … stay out of my lane bro” to Morstead.
There was at least one other goofy play in the game, and this time the Bills were the victims. With seconds left in the half and the score tied, 14-14, the Bills lined up quickly at the Dolphins’ 34-yard line for a spike. But Josh Allen instead abruptly threw a swing pass to Stefon Diggs, who could not get out of bounds before time expired.
Allen wasn’t trying a fake spike, as some fans immediately guessed. He had bobbled the snap, seemed to be unable to spike it, and improvised unsuccessfully.
It was a misbegotten play, but one that is unlikely to get its own name, since no rear ends were involved.