Rivers, Merriman & the rest of the Chargers destroyed the Broncos. Without a doubt the world belongs to RB LaDainian Tomlinson. He is the most beautiful runner in the game. Marty Schottenheimer said Tomlinson is "the finest running back to ever wear an NFL uniform."
But on this record-breaking day for Tomlinson which featured a back-breaking surprise first half onside kick, the Play of the Day was the 1st quarter touchdown by Lorenzo Neal.
On the four yard line, with everyone poised to stop Tomlinson, Chargers O-Coordinator Cam "Cam" Cameron dusted off one of the great old trick plays from the cobwebby cellar of football's past. The ball was snapped to QB Rivers, who snapped it to All-Pro blocking FB Lorenzo Neal. Neal hid the ball behind his legs as the offense ran a sweep to the right. The entire defense read & reacted to the action, leaving Neal free to run over the startled lone Denver lineman playing backside contain.
The announcers were baffled, as was I. And then I realized: it was a Fumblerooski! About twenty seconds later (probably with the help of the entire cbs sports production staff), the announcer said that it was a Fumblerooski. Where's my fucking Clio Award?
Anyway, it turns out that it wasn't a Fumblerooski (invented by Heisman), it was a Bumarooski, a variation invented by Bum Phillips. In a "regular" Fumblerooski, the center snaps the ball, then places it behind his foot. The offense runs a sweep (without the ball) and one of the offensive guards picks up the "fumble" and runs a naked sweep. Can anyone find video footage of the Chargers Bumarooski? I have been scouring unsuccessfully.
The Fumblerooski has been outlawed in the NFL since the 1960's, but it has been successful in the NCAA including two National Championship games. It is unknown how many times it has been called in high school. The only certain thing is that you will never, ever see another Fumblerooski, except possibly in a Pop Warner game. The NCAA axed it in the 90's and it was banned for h.s. football in 2006.
Why has this ridiculous, high-risk and beloved play gone the way of single-bar facemasks, clothesline tackles and dating cheerleaders? It is a burden on officials. Jerry Diehl of the NTSHSA says the ban "eliminates confusion in a ballgame."
The Bumarooski is a legal play because the FB is an eligible ball-carrier. It is an insane call when only up 14-0 against a playoff contender/division rival. Center Nick Hardwick said, “All the linemen were real skeptical about it. We didn't think it was going to work. But when it did, it was pretty hilarious.”
On my high school football team, we had an incredibly talented LG/DE 2 years ahead of me who I will only call "Lou" because I don't want him to ever be mad at me. Lou never lifted weights, brought his compound bow into the locker room (he hunted groundhogs, etc), smoked weed before practice and had only a basic grasp of the playbook. But he was an absolute monster.
At the end of one practice, the line blew their assignment and I fired in from my LB position and sacked the QB. The coach blew his top and promised us another twenty reps before sprints. It was dark and cold but I was feeling pretty good. Until they lined up and someone called out, "Kill that Wice kid!" I looked up at Lou in his stance. Lou looked at me with his red eyes. Just before the snap, Lou made the pumping-a-shotgun noise: "Chk-chkk." Then he hit me. I saw the black sky, wondered why my feet were up in the black sky, and then hit the fence ten yards behind.
In one game, Lou chased down an All-Conference RB on a sweep. Lou had been on the backside, and the RB had twenty yards on Lou. Lou caught him from behind.
Lou had no prospects after graduation, so we practiced a Fumblerooski for him to run in the last game of his senior year. We called it the "FumbleLouski," get it? We ran it but did not execute it well, and it was stopped for no gain.
And I never saw Lou or a Fumblerooski again.
By the way, Lorenzo Neal, that is not how you carry a football.
The San Diego Chargers get my nod for Playcall of the Year. That is, until someone calls "The Swinging Gate."