Botched Fake Punt on Chung


S Patrick Chung’s play has been phenomenal all season. From big plays on special teams to big plays on defense, Chung has stood out as the future at the safety position. Unfortunately, Chung may be remembered all offseason for the one big botched play he had against the Jets in the playoffs and not his stellar play all season. Last night, rookie punter Zoltan Mesko said that the fake punt was Chung’s call (something that he should not have said, and will likely get a talking to from one of the vets), and today, Chung stepped up and took full responsibility for the play. Down 7-3 with just under 2 minutes to play in the first half, Chung took a direct snap but fumbled, picked up the ball, and was stopped for no gain in Patriots’ territory. The Jets took over with great field position and turned it into 7 points.

How was it Chung’s call?

Apparently in something that the team had worked on all season, if Chung (who lines up as the personal protector on punts) sees a mismatch at the line of scrimmage where there are more blockers than rushers, he can call a fake punt. Unfortunately, he made the call at the worst time. It was a case of not knowing the situation, something Bill Belichick harps on all the time. Backed up in your own territory is not the time to call a fake punt, especially in such a tight game where a failure could result in a huge momentum swing against you, which it did.

Despite all of that, you have to appreciate, as a sports fan and a Patriots fan, how Chung stepped up and took full responsibility. When asked about it, Bill Belichick simply said that it was a “bad mistake,” but didn’t point the finger at Chung. Chung took full responsibility, as a true pro and man would do. Here’s what he had to say, including taking heat off of Belichick and special teams coach Scott O’Brien.

It’s not Bill or Scott O’Brien. None of them. I take full responsibility. I saw the look we had. I made the call. It didn’t work out for us.

“No ‘ifs.’ I didn’t catch it. It’s part of the game. Things happen. You have to bounce back. It’s my responsibility. Leave Bill alone. Leave Scotty alone. That’s my call, man. My mistake.”

It’s tough to pull out positives from a playoff loss to a hated division rival, but the future is certainly bright for this young team. It’s players like Patrick Chung that are building a strong foundation to keep this team competitive for many years to come.