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Mountaineer Shot: The touchdown heard ‘round the world

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Philadelphia Eagles v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins field goal unit rushed on the field with 4:40 remaining in the second quarter and Miami trailing 13-7. The Dolphins were facing a 4th-and-Goal from the Philadelphia Eagles’ one-yard line, after failing to score on seven previous “and-Goal” plays. The field goal was disappointing, but at least Miami would get points with a Jason Sanders kick.

Except, the Dolphins had called “Mountaineer Shot” instead of a field goal. Suddenly, the team split apart, leaving center Daniel Kilgore alone in the middle of the field and punter Matt Haack deep in shotgun. Half the team went to the left and half went to the right. It was reminiscient of an Indianapolis Colts’ fake, where wide receiver Griff Whalen became the center and Colt Anderson became the quarterback after all of the shifting.

It did not go well for the Colts.

The Dolphins looked like they were setting up for the same kind of failure.

At the snap, Haack fakes to his right, looking like he will pass the ball.

Then, seemingly in a panic when that option was not available, Haack turns and runs to his left, looking for some blocking.

Then, the magic happens. Suddenly Sanders is by himself in the endzone and, just as he is getting tackled, Haack throws a pass toward Sanders.

Sanders dropped to a knee and caught the pass, scoring the first kicker-caught touchdown pass since 1977.

After the game, Sanders confirmed the name of the play, and explained, “I loved it. How often do you get to see a kicker touchdown. Or even a punter throw to a kicker? I think that is the unique part.”

He continued, explaining about the execution of the play, “They called the play and then everything just happened so fast. I got set outside and they gave us the look we were looking for. I know the ball was going to be snapped and right when he said set, I was like, “Alright. It’s on.’”

The catch and touchdown, both firsts at any level for Sanders, came on a play Miami has been practicing the last few weeks, looking for the right time to break it out.

“It was all based on what they were going to do,” Sanders continued. “We are just banking on them doing this, so we can do that. Matt did a good job, he held on to the ball for as long as he could, and once I got off, he dumped it off and I let it come in.”

Sanders said he joked last week that, with Mountaineer Shot in the playbook, he probably should get some work on the JUGS machine. “But, no, it’s not going to come in that hot,” he said laughing. “The play is designed to be just like how it was, a nice little bunny throw, because if I am open, I am going to be wide open.”

Sanders said Haack was getting the ball, though Haack interjected that we will see where the ball ends up.

The Dolphins lost the lead on the next Eagles possession, falling behind by seven at 21-14, but they would hold Philadelphia to just ten points the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Miami scored three more touchdowns and a field goal throughout the game. Miami moved to 3-9 on the season behind the 37-31 victory - a win that, along with a stellar performance from DeVante Parker, Ryan Fitzpatrick working his magic, and Mike Gesicki coming up with some big catches - will be remembered for Haack to Sanders, Moutaineer Shot.