December 21, 2009. Monday Night Football. After two quarters, the Washington Redskins were getting crushed by their division rivals the New York Giants.
The Skins were 4-9 and eliminated from playoff contention. Before the game crazy owner Dan Synder, infamous for throwing huge amounts of money at washed up players, had just fired the General Manager. Then head coach, Jim Zorn, was also bad at his job. He was about to get fired at the end of the season and everyone knew it.
The Skins were down 24-0 with two seconds left before halftime. They were in field goal range, lined up to kick and break the goose-egg. It was then that offensive genius Jim Zorn called “one of the most ill-advised and ill-fated trick plays of all-time.” It is known as the ‘swinging gate.’ Before the snap the team’s entire offensive line, with the exception of the center, shifts out to the strong side leaving the quarterback and running back completely unprotected. In the Redskin’s case, they didn’t have a quarterback or running back on the field and instead decided to go with their punter and field goal kicker. The quarterback is supposed to throw a quick screen to the back, designed to catch the defense by surprise and pick up a couple of cheap yards.
The Giants didn’t bite leaving punter Hunter Smith all alone in the backfield. He took the snap and a bunch of 300 pound men charged at him undefended, taking a free shot at his fragile frame. Smith desperately threw the ball up as close to the endzone as he could. It was intercepted and almost run back for a Giant’s score.
The Giants won 45-12, and Coach Zorn was fired at the end of the season.
Artist Pete Cullen has taken the time to immortalize this epic failure in an oil painting.
The work captures Smith right before the snap, staring at five giants defenders who are about to charge him unblocked. It is currently on display in Baltimore, where Ravens fans will undoubtedly get a kick out of it.