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"Absolutely brilliant": Pat McAfee praises Brenden Schooler's blocked field goal

FOXBORO -- There weren't many Patriots highlights from Sunday night's 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins. But there is one play by New England that is still getting a ton of attention on Monday.

That would be the incredible blocked field goal attempt by Pats special teamer Brenden Schooler, who perfectly timed his pounce and flew off the edge to deflect a 49-yard attempt by Miami kicker James Sanders. New England safety Kyle Dugger recovered the ball at the Miami 49, flipping the field in a 17-3 game. 

"As soon as the ball was snapped and I felt myself in the momentum, carrying, I just knew I was going to get there and just wanted to make sure I got a hand on the ball or something where I could stop the ball and hopefully one of us picked it up and get the offensive spark going," Schooler said after Sunday's loss.

The Patriots, however, didn't get anything out of Schooler's effort, as Mac Jones threw an interception at the Miami 3-yard line on the ensuing possession. But that doesn't take away from Schooler's incredible play. 

It was textbook execution by the second-year safety, who had his eyes on Miami holder -- and former Patriots punter -- Jake Bailey before the snap. Bailey had a tell that the Patriots picked up on (likely during his four seasons in New England) and Schooler took full advantage. To give Schooler a running start on the play, the Patriots had him lined up out wide so he was already flying toward Bailey before the ball was even snapped.  

ESPN's Pat McAfee, a former punter himself, was absolutely smitten with the play on his show Monday, and broke down how Schooler was able to execute it so perfectly.

"That's the chess thing. That's a move ahead of a move," said McAffee. "It's absolutely brilliant."

Schooler praised New England's special teams coaches for having the play ready to go.

"I don't think I would have come up with that play," he said. "So it's a testament to our coaching staff because when they drew it up and told us what we were doing I thought to myself, 'I trust them but I haven't ever seen anything like this before.' I mean it was awesome to see the new innovative plays that they come up with and then to go out there and execute it and make a play for your team."

Schooler lined up wide again later in the game, as Sanders looked to ice it with a 55-yard field goal with 2:19 left. He wasn't able to get to that one, but he may have been in Sanders' head: The Miami kicker pushed the kick wide left to keep New England's comeback hopes alive.

Sunday's block was not something we saw out of New England's special teams unit last year, as it was one of the worst in the NFL. That is very uncharacteristic of a Bill Belichick team, which the coach always stressing the importance of all three phases of the game.

But Patriots special teamers have really brought it in the early part of the 2023 season.

"I feel we are making strides in the right direction right now," said Schooler. "There is a lot to improve on but we have come a long way. I am proud of the guys and the coaching staff and how they expect a lot out of us. We are taking strides in the right direction." 

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