Patriots draw praise for their innovative play design on blocked field goal

Miami Dolphins place kicker Jason Sanders (7) hits a field goal while pressured by New England Patriots safety Brenden Schooler (41) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots may be 0-2, but the day after their 24-17 loss to Miami, coach Bill Belichick and his staff were once again being praised around the NFL for their creativity.

Brenden Schooler blocked a 49-yard field-goal try by the Dolphins' Jason Sanders on Sunday night, executing an innovative and deceptive play design on special teams.

New England's players lined up in standard rush positions on the line of scrimmage with the exception of Schooler, who initially stood about halfway between the sideline and his teammates.

He got a running start and sprinted parallel to the line of scrimmage, helping to time his rush perfectly just as the ball was snapped.

His momentum allowed him to easily get around the Dolphins’ edge protector and dive in nearly untouched for a block that teammate Kyle Dugger recovered.

“As soon as the ball was snapped and I felt myself in the momentum, carrying, I just knew I was going to get there and just wanted to make sure I got a hand on the ball or something," Schooler said.

According to the NFL's NextGen Stats, Schooler was running 12.7 miles per hour when the ball was snapped and 13.19 mph when the kick was blocked.

Schooler credited the ingenuity of special teams coordinator Cameron Achord, along with fellow assistants Joe Judge and Joe Houston.

“When they drew it up and told us what we were doing I thought to myself, ‘I trust them but I haven’t ever seen anything like this before,’" Schooler said.

He said any reservations he had about attempting the unorthodox block were quieted by teammate and special teams captain Matt Slater.

"Going on the field, he said to me, ‘You are going to go block this and just trust in what we practiced during the week,'” Schooler recalled.

Defensive tackle Deatrich Wise said the reps Schooler got in practice all week paid off.

“We knew it was going to work, and he did a fantastic job executing it well,” Wise said.

Raiders coach and former Patriots assistant Josh McDaniels said he expects other teams to attempt the play.

“If it works, then it tends to be stolen,” McDaniels said Monday. "That’s what the nature of the profession of coaches is all about.”


AP Sports Writer Mark Anderson in Las Vegas contributed to this report.