Australian punter Cam Johnston recorded a forgettable 0-yard punt after some attempted trickery from his Houston Texans backfired in their 25-22 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday morning (AEDT).
With the Texans leading 22-9 midway through the third quarter, Johnston was called on to attempt his first punt of the game on 4th and 2 with the ball on the Texans own 36-yard line.
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Johnston initially lined-up as if he was going to punt the ball, before jogging up to the line of scrimmage, indicating the Texans were about to run a fake with Johnston as the quarterback.
However, they eventually motioned out of shotgun and back into punt formation in an attempt to catch the Patriots out before they could get a man back in position to return the punt.
The elaborate attempt at deception did not go as planned, with Johnston’s eventual punt ricocheting off the back of the head of his teammate Terrance Brooks and out of bounds.
Texans head coach David Culley explained the thought process behind the unusual play call when speaking to the media post game.
“If they gave us the right look, we were possibly going to fake it,” Culley said.
“They didn’t give us the look, so we were going to back out and re-punt it and it didn’t work out. We ended up having a leakage up the middle and it ended up getting blocked.”
The botched play proved to be a crucial moment in the game, with momentum swinging in favour of the Patriots after they converted a 52-yard field goal courtesy of Nick Folk on the ensuing drive.
The Texans failed to score another point in the contest as New England mounted an impressive comeback capped by Folk’s 21-yard game-winning field goal with 17 seconds left on the clock.
Johnston had two other punts in the game, one of 45 yards and another of 54 yards. The 29-year-old Geelong native is averaging 45.5 yards per punt on the season.
A former Australian rules footballer who spent time with the Melbourne Demons in the AFL, Johnston signed with the Texans after spending three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Johnston’s Texans now sit second-last in the AFC South division with a 1-4 record, while the Mac Jones-led Patriots are second in the AFC East with a 2-3 record.
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