Thanksgiving is one of the most important days of the year in America. It’s a day to spend time with family and reflect on all the blessings in your life. It’s also a day to remember perhaps the greatest play in the history of sports: The Butt Fumble. Back on Thanksgiving Day, 2012, the New England Patriots took on the New York Jets in prime time. What was supposed to be a tight, competitive battle between AFC East rivals turned into a 49-19 blowout. Despite the lopsided score, this game was one of the most memorable matchups in recent memory, simply due to one play. In the blooper to end all bloopers, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ran face-first into Brandon Moore’s backside, sending the world into laughter and giving the Butt fumble to us all.
The Butt Fumble: Six Years Later
First off, let’s set the scene. The Patriots just took a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter on an 83-yard Shane Vereen touchdown pass. The Jets needed to answer in order to keep the game competitive. Instead, Mark Sanchez made perhaps his biggest mistake in a career full of miscues.
On the second play of the drive, Sanchez took the snap under center and went to hand the ball off to running back Shonn Greene. Greene, however, looked to be expecting a pitch off left tackle. The play now busted, Sanchez scrambled hoping to at least make it back to the line of scrimmage. Little did he know that he was about to end up on the wrong side of the greatest play in football history.
Vince Wilfork had strong leverage on Jets guard Brandon Moore and pushed him back half a step. Sanchez, apparently oblivious to this, ran directly behind his right guard and into his right guards’ behind. While that alone was hilarious enough, the play still wasn’t over. The force of the impact knocked the ball loose, and Steve Gregory recovered the fumble, bringing it untouched to the endzone for the score.
This play, perhaps more than any other, perfectly summarized both franchises. The Jets, just two years removed from back-to-back AFC Championship appearances, reverted back to being one of the most dysfunctional organizations in the league. Since 2012, the Jets have only had one winning season and haven’t sniffed the playoffs. Over that same timeframe, the Patriots have made every AFC Championship Game, three Super Bowls and won two championships.
Where Are They Now
Mark Sanchez spent the rest of 2012 as the Jets starter but never suited up for Gang Green after that. Sanchez entered 2013 battling with rookie Geno Smith for the starting job but ultimately suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. Since then, Sanchez has bounced around the league, making cameos on the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears, and Philadelphia Eagles. After spending the majority of 2018 unsigned, Sanchez recently joined the Washington Redskins in the wake of the Alex Smith injury.
Then-head coach Rex Ryan spent two more seasons on the Jets sideline but never came close to recapturing his former glory. The Jets went 18-30 during Ryan’s final three years while never going better than 8-8. Ryan spent two years as the Buffalo Bills head coach before eventually losing that position as well. The Patriots longtime AFC East rival is currently out of football and working as a TV personality on ESPN.
2012 was the end of the road for longtime Jets guard Brandon Moore. The man on the other end of the Butt Fumble played out the rest of 2012 before signing a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys. However, Moore retired shortly after signing, deciding that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Vince Wilfork spent two more years with the Patriots, winning Super Bowl XLIX in his final season with New England. The much-beloved defensive tackle spent two more seasons with the Houston Texans before hanging up the cleats for good. Wilfork is one of the all-time greats in Patriots history and is a shoo-in for the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Steve Gregory was the star of the show during that magical Thanksgiving night. The first-year Patriot recorded three turnovers in what was undoubtedly the game of his career. Gregory stayed with the Patriots through 2013 prior to the 2014 season. He still has good ties with his former Patriots colleagues, as he’s currently an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions and longtime Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
Last Word on the Butt Fumble
Thanksgiving is a day for rest, relaxation, and taking a moment to appreciate all the good in your life. Personally, I’m thankful for the Butt Fumble. Six years ago, onprime-timee television, Mark Sanchez gave the world the best, worst play in the history of sports.
No other play had to be retired from the ESPN “Worst Plays” list. Nobody was a more annoying trash-talker than Rex Ryan, but Ryan couldn’t say anything after this game. While Sanchez and Ryan stuck around for at least a little while, this game officially marked the end of their run in New York. What once looked like a competitive rivalry turned back into the same old story that’s been going on since 2001.
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