How many ways are there to score in the National Football League? There are 4-ways to score in football: a touchdown, field goal, safety, and the extra-point/2-point conversion after a touchdown. The field goal is straight forward. The safety requires the defense downing the offense in their own endzone. The point(s) after are relatively straightforward as well, except perhaps when the 2-point conversion is faked in lieu of a “drop kick” for the additional point. However, there are many different ways to advance the ball for the touchdown.
There’s the standard ways to move the rock for a touchdown – the passing touchdown and the rushing touchdown. However, the remaining ways are uncommon and game changing. There’s the punt return for a touchdown. There’s the kickoff return for a touchdown. There’s the “pick-6,” or returning an interception for a touchdown, blocking a kick, recovering the ball and returning the ball, and returning a fumble for a touchdown. Curiously, the only time the offense scores, it is on a passing or rushing touchdown, otherwise it’s the teams’ “special teams” or defense that does the deed.
And that is what happened on Monday, October 4, 2010, when the New England Patriots became the first team in NFL history to have scored a touchdown via pass, rush, kick off return, “pick-6,” and a blocked kick in a 41-14 thrashing of the Miami Dolphins. They also scored several extra points after the touchdown, and via field goal. In other words, the only way they didn’t score was via safety and 2-point conversion. That is 90-years of professional football without that curious combination of scoring. The Washington Redskins and the New York Giants combined for 113-points in November, 1966 and neither team combined for that combination of scoring.
Tom Brady only threw for 153-yards on 24-attempts with 1-touchdown. This is not quite what one might have imagined the line score would look like on a night the Patriots would win by 27-points for Brady’s 100th career win. Coming out of half-time, the score was 7-6, with Miami leading. This was a game of special teams and defense and an amazing disintegration of Miami’s special teams in the second half, so much so that the day following the Dolphins fired their special teams coordinator.
And so, in an epic 30-minutes of football, the Patriots managed to score 35-points in a combination of ways never matched in the history of the NFL.