So Doug Flutie came in with a Hail Mary and went out with a drop kick — kind of like the month of March, except it’s really not.
This is another thing I meant to get to earlier in the week, but the trip to Indy and the subsequent lack-of-sleep thing threw me off. Doug Flutie converted the NFL’s first drop kick in 64 years, and both Wikipedia and the Pro Football Hall of Fame were on the case faster than you could say, “Chris Berman, what the hell did you do?”act
Because this was all Berman’s fault. He said something to Bill Belichek about Flutie being a decent drop kicker in Canada, land of expansive end zones, where apparently you can drop kick from anywhere on the field. According to Wikipedia, in a CFL game in the 80s, Earl Winfield once kicked a ball in frustration after he had trouble fielding a punt. It was ruled a drop kick, and the other team got the ball back. (Incidentally, you’ll never have to worry about Antwaan Randle El doing anything like that.)
Anyway, Belichek thought it would be fun to send Flutie out by resurrecting a play that was popular when Paddy Driscoll roamed the earth. Drop kicks disappeared because the football became pointier as the forward pass grew more popular, and drop kickers could no longer get the ball to bounce reliably. So nobody drop kicks anymore except Canadians and rugby players. Even Australians dumped the drop kick in their version of football, which still remains a complete mystery to me because of my Northern Hemisphere bias.
Now, however, that Flutie and Belichek have reminded us all that the drop kick is still legal in the NFL, I wonder if it will be the last drop kick we see. I suspect some lunatic punter — Meat Loaf Sauerbrun comes to mind — will step up and say that he can drop kick field goals and PATs, thus eliminating his team’s need for a placekicker and freeing up a roster spot. We may also see some team set up to go for it on fourth down inside the red zone, only to have the QB or running back drop kick a field goal instead. Someone may use a drop kick formation as a strategy to keep opponents guessing whether they’ll go for one or two.
Then again, we could have seen these things at any time over the last 64 years, and none of them ever happened. So the drop kick will likely disappear back into the historical ether, and Flutie will replace Ray McLean as the answer to a trivia question. Chris Berman got his little going-away present from the Patriots, and we should leave it at that.
Of course, with playoff position still on the line last Sunday, maybe the Pats should have tried winning the game first. On the other hand, with Byron Leftwich going into Saturday’s Pats-Jags playoff game cold, it may not matter. Maybe Del Rio should have learned something from the Doug Flutie-Rob Johnson debacle in Buffalo 6 years ago, even if David Garrard doesn’t have that Flutie juju about him.