The word of the night for the Colts was simple: miscommunication.
I think that much was pretty obvious from the moment the play happened. You know the play I'm talking about - the one that is all over TV and the internet. Here was the situation: the Colts were down six points, and while the Patriots clearly had the momentum, the game was by no means out of reach. The Colts offense was in an ineffective stretch, however, meaning they were going to punt once again. Until, as they were lining up to punt, the team suddenly shifted to one side of the field, leaving only Griff Whalen as the center and Colt Anderson as the one taking the snap. Whalen snapped the ball to Anderson, and the play was subsequently stuffed by the Patriots. To cap it off, the Colts were called for an illegal formation penalty too. A few plays later, New England scored to make it a double-digit lead and the game was, essentially, over at that point.
So what in the world were the Colts thinking on that penalty? The NBC cameras caught Pagano appearing to ask, "why did you snap it?" to Griff Whalen as he was walking off the field, asking a question that everyone watching the game wondered too. The whole play was a mess, was embarrassing, and was one of the worst plays you'll ever see. Punter Pat McAfee said after the game that, "it turned out to be one of the most failed fakes, probably of all time."
To his credit, head coach Chuck Pagano took full responsibility for the play, saying repeatedly in his post game press conference that he was the one responsible for the call and the failed execution. "The whole idea is on a 4th-and-three or less we would shift," Pagano said. "Either catch them misaligned or with 12 men on the field. And if you get a certain look you can make a play. But we weren't lined up correctly and had a communication breakdown between the quarterback out there and the snapper. It's on me, I didn't coach it well enough."
Pagano said that the Colts had practiced the play and were hoping for a specific look from the defense, but they didn't get it. So the plan then was simply to take the delay of game penalty and then punt the football. That makes sense. It's still hard to figure out what the Colts were trying to do in the first place, but adding to the confusing play call was the fact that the ball never should have been snapped. Again, the Colts said it was a miscommunication, and Pagano took full responsibility for that.
Safety Colt Anderson, who was the one taking the snap, echoed the sentiments after the game of it being a miscommunication, saying that they should have taken a delay of game penalty but that something got confused through the process. Pat McAfee said that the Colts had practiced the play and had everything worked out with the officials on the formation, so someone must have not been lined up the way they practiced it.
"So we've worked that play for, we started working it last year and we put it back in this week," McAfee said after the game. "It's a play where you try to take advantage of numbers. We try to confuse the defense and hopefully get an edge number-wise. The look was not there that we normally have in practice where it's a 'go.' There must have been some miscommunication between the snapper and Colt."
Miscommunication was the theme of the night for the Colts, and it was one play that made them the laughingstock of the league and sealed the game. That's a pretty big miscommunication, particularly on a call that made little sense in the first place.