Reader Alex sent in the below page from Buddy Ryan’s old Houston Oilers playbook. I have to say I haven’t seen this tactic before. Count the number of defenders:
My question is, given the current state of NFL (or college) rules with run-offs and so on, would this tactic still work? Seems just like Ryan: clever and devious.
Having just watched his Vikings lose, 10-9, Lynn was rankled by the sight of what the Eagles called their “Polish punt team.” In a most unusual formation, designed to prevent a blocked kick or a long runback, Ryan sent 14 men onto the field for a crucial last-minute punt. At the worst, the expected penalty for too many men on the field would set the Eagles back 5 yards but drain precious seconds from the clock.
To the surprise of the Eagles, no flag was forthcoming and the safest punt in NFL history was executed without mishap. Was Ryan sheepish about employing such a questionable tactic? Hardly. When Al Meltzer asked during the taping of Ryan’s weekly television show about the propriety of having 14 men on the field, the coach did note a flaw in the strategy. “There should have been 15,” he snapped.