MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A heavy dose of Miami Dolphins trickery led to what could be a candidate for play of the season. A shovel touchdown pass from punter Matt Haack to kicker Jason Sanders gave the Dolphins 14-13 lead late in the second quarter over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
On fourth-and-goal, the Dolphins' field goal team audibled from their traditional formation into a unique formation with center Daniel Kilgore snapping to Haack and the other nine players split wide on either side. When the ball was snapped, Haack scrambled to his left and Sanders slid behind the defense in the end zone. Haack pitched a shovel pass to Sanders, who slid to the ground and caught the touchdown.
The last time a team's leading punter and kicker combined on a passing touchdown was Dec. 6, 1964. The Chargers' John Hadl (who was the primary QB and punter) threw a TD to Keith Lincoln (who was a running back and kicker), according to Elias Sports.
Per ESPN Stats & Information, the last time a specialist completed a pass to another specialist was in 2004, when Chris Mohr had a completion to Jay Feely for a loss of 2 yards (Falcons). This play went a lot better for the Dolphins. The play had a chance because coach Brian Flores successfully challenged an uncalled pass interference on a third down incompletion four plays earlier. The overturned call put the ball on the goal line, but the Dolphins couldn't punch it in initially. But a bit of trickery eventually got them in.
It's the second career pass for Haack and the first career touchdown for either specialist. Haack's first pass in 2017 was an interception.
The @Dolphins lined up with punter Matt Haack at QB & kicker Jason Sanders out wide on 4th down with the FG unit on the field-Haack & Sanders connected for a 1-yard TD.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 1, 2019
The Dolphins had center Daniel Kilgore on the field, NOT long snapper Taybor Pepper.#PHIvsMIA | #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/GFaPYqOOyh
Sanders is the first kicker to catch a touchdown since 1977 (Jim Turner, Broncos), according to ESPN Stats & Info.
"I loved it. How often do you get to see a kicker touchdown or even a punter throwing to the kicker? I think that's the unique part," Sanders said. "When he said 'set,' I was like 'All right, it's on. Let's go.' It's all based on what they are going to do. We were just banking on them doing this so we could do that. Matt did a good job. He held onto the ball as long as he could and once I got off, he got it to me," Sanders said.
Earlier in the first quarter, DeVante Parker pulled his best Randy Moss impression, high-pointing a 50-50 ball from Ryan Fitzpatrick and snatching it away from Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby for what ended up being a 43-yard touchdown.
On fourth-and-4, down 10-0 in the first quarter, the Dolphins decided to go for it and called on their most reliable play all season -- Fitzpatrick throwing it up to his big No. 1 receiver.
Parker's 43-yard TD had 0.9 yards of separation on the tight window receiving touchdown (less than 1 yard of separation).
Parker wasn't done with just one acrobatic catch. On the following drive in the second quarter, Parker beat Darby once again with a 42-yard reception, simply out-jumping him and snagging the ball out of the air. The catch brought the Dolphins into the Eagles' red zone.
And in the third quarter, Parker went up to get another helping of great football grabs, nabbing his second touchdown of the game on another jump ball in the end zone with two Eagles defenders nearby.
Parker now leads the NFL with four tight window receiving touchdowns. Parker is the fourth player with this season with multiple tight window receiving touchdowns in a single game.