The NFL had three rare special teams plays on Sunday, with one of them resulting in an NFL record. Rare because they have happened at college and lower levels, and hardly ever at the most-elite level.
And all of them happened during the early afternoon games.
So before describing them, here’s a public service announcement: To the Alabama Crimson Tide fans, you may want to turn your head for one of them. For Texas A&M Aggies faithfuls, you might want to turn a blind eye to another.
The first of the trio happened early in the second quarter between Washington and Buffalo. Washington had just scored a touchdown at the 9:51 mark to finally get on the board. On the ensuing kickoff, Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins booted a high, wobbly ball to the Buffalo 20-yard line. No body caught the ball, and it bounced around until Hopkins landed on his own kick. This isn’t like a kicker squibbing an onside kick and recovering it himself. His recovery was nearly 40 yards downfield.
“I’ve watched football for nearly a half century and never seen this,” one Twitter user wrote.
Buffalo went on to win this game in a 43-21 blowout.
The second special teams rarity happened in the game between Arizona at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Matt Prater of the Cardinals lined up to kick a 68-yard field goal. The kick fell just short, and it was fielded 9 yards deep in the end zone by Jamal Agnew of the Jaguars.
Agnew ran out of the end zone, darted to his left and trotted along the numbers, and then made his way down the left sideline. He dodged three tackles and got some timely blocking en route to the touchdown that gave his team a 13-7 lead late in the first half.
The announcers went crazy.
“Touchdown, Jacksonville,” the play-by-play announcer screamed. “109 yards. Incredible.”
The home fans at TIAA Bank Field wildly celebrated the play, which is reminiscent of 2013 when Auburn ran back a “kick six” on the final play of the game to beat rival Alabama and win the SEC West.
On Sunday, Agnew’s Jaguar teammates rushed the end zone to celebrate the madness.
“Oh my goodness,” said the announcer, seemingly out of breath.
The Cardinals came back to win that game, 31-19.
Agnew had run back a 102-yard touchdown on a kick in the previous week at Houston.
Prater would have set a new NFL record had he made the kick, which came up short.
Later in the afternoon at the Baltimore-Detroit game, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker lined up for a 66-yard field goal on the final play of the game and down by one point to Detroit. Tucker’s kick sailed through the air at Ford Field, hit the cross bar and tumbled over the game winner.
Tucker, the former Texas Longhorn who drilled the game-winning kick against the Texas A&M Aggies in the last game ever played between those schools 10 years ago, broke the NFL record with his kick. The Ravens won that game on Sunday, 19-17.
The celebration by the Ravens players on the field was epic, with some players hoisting their kicker into the air.