Celebrating the Fifth Anniversary of the Best Worst Play in Football

The memory of the butt fumble will never die.

Football fans aren't always thankful for their team's Thanksgiving Day plays. (Robert Sabo/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

On Thanksgiving night, Nov. 22, 2012, Mark Sanchez crouches down at the 31-yard-line at MetLife Stadium. He was staring across at the Patriots’ defense. The Jets were down 14-0, but the game was still up for grabs.

But then, everything changed, writes ESPNSanchez opened to his left, and fullback Lex Hilliard, who is supposed to get the handoff, runs by on his right. Sanchez has a lot of momentum, which carries him five yards into the backfield. He pivots and begins to blindly sprint toward the chaos at the line of scrimmage, according to ESPN. The perfect storm forms, culminating in one of the greatest sport’s bloopers of all time.

“It all went wrong when Sanchez turned the wrong way,” Rex Ryan says, according to ESPN. “That was the first indication that it was going to be a bad play. But we had no idea it was going to be a disaster.”

Since Sanchez had turned the wrong way, the whole play was off. The rest of the team was zone-blocking, so there was no hole anywhere. Sanchez had tunnel vision while looking for any hole to escape through, and while caught in indecision, he ran directly into Brandon Moore’s butt. He loses the ball, and Stephen Gregory returned the fumble 32 yards for the Patriot’s third touchdown.

“I’ve covered the Jets for 29 years, and this was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. People were just aghast in the press box, even the Patriots writers,” said Rich Cimini, ESPN’s Jets beat reporter, according to ESPN. 

The butt fumble signaled the end of the Mark Sanchez era with the Jets, Cimini explained to ESPN, and Sanchez took full responsibility for the play. The butt fumble was shown on TV every day for an entire year and lives on today through GIFs and endless social media posts.

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