MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker became only the 12th player in NFL history to produce a 99-yard play from scrimmage when he caught a dart from quarterback Tom Brady late in the fourth quarter of New England's 38-24 triumph over the Miami Dolphins Monday night at Sun Life Stadium.
So how did it happen? Leave it to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to break down the game's most exciting play so succinctly:
“They came after us, Tom checked it, we picked it up, hit him in stride, broke a tackle.”
The thing is, it truly was that simple. But what made it more special was how it came about. The Patriots were up by two touchdowns when Miami drove to the New England ½-yard line on a 10-play, fourth-quarter drive. On fourth-and-goal, Chad Henne couldn't connect with Brian Hartline, turning the ball back over to the Patriots with 5:57 to go. A Patriots offense that had moved the ball all night continued to impose its will, striking on just one play to slam the door on the game.
Here's how it went down: The Dolphins put six players close to the line of scrimmage (above) and send them all at the quarterback. Brady correctly read the defense pre-snap and audibled to pull tight end Aaron Hernandez to the end of the line to block.
Six Patriots blockers -- the five offensive linemen and Hernandez -- pick up the Miami rush. Maybe the Dolphins' only hope to blow the play up came when linebacker Karlos Dansby leaps to fill up the passing lane, but Brady just waits him out and delivers the ball.
Brady, already over 400 yards in the game, delivers a perfect ball, hitting Welker in stride as cornerback Benny Sapp chases Welker and the safety whiffs trying to knock down the pass.
Sapp is Miami's only hope and Welker delivers a stiff arm that springs him free and he had about 40 yards on the nearest defender by the time he reached pay dirt.
Here's reaction to the play (with Welker video embedded below):
Brady: “That was pretty awesome. When I saw him break away it was awesome. You never know when it’s going to go. It was man-to-man and Wes ran a great route. I only threw it 25 yards, it’s not like I threw it 99 yards, Wes did all the work, I just had to put it out there for him.”
Welker: “I wouldn’t say that I knew that I would. But, when I saw the coverage as we lined up in the set I knew there was probably some possibly I could be getting the ball on this play and I just wanted to make the most of the opportunity.”
When a reporter asked Welker if he was still considered a possession receiver after the long haul, Welker laughed and said any such reference would be referred to Monday's big play.
Here's the other 11 99-yard plays in league history:
Oct. 15, 1939 - Frank Filchock to Andy Farkas, Washington vs. Pittsburgh
Sept. 15, 1963 - George Izo to Bobby Mitchell, Washington vs. Cleveland
Oct. 16, 1966 - Karl Sweetan to Pat Studstill, Detroit vs. Baltimore
Sept. 15, 1968 - Sonny Jurgensen to Gerry Allen, Washington vs. Chicago
Jan. 3, 1983 - Tony Dorsett rush, Dallas vs. Minnesota
Oct. 2, 1983 - Jim Plunkett to Cliff Branch, L.A. Raiders vs. Washington
Nov. 10, 1985 - Ron Jaworski to Mike Quick, Philadelphia vs. Atlanta