Fake field goals and punts have to be used at the right moments. Break them out at the wrong time and not only will the defense figure it out, not only will the field position shift probably be disastrous, but they just have the potential to look really silly.
Utilized properly, though, and they’re a lot of fun, and a very valuable tool. The Steelers just did the fun kind, as rather than settle for a field goal at the end of the first half in Denver, they called a fun fake instead:
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph: not pleased!
The direct snap to the kicker variety of fake field goal is a pretty rare one, but it’s effective here. Typically if a fake attempt features a snap to the holder it’s a bit slower to develop. This version essentially acted like an extended shotgun snap with a quick route to an eligible lineman, the kind of player who is always going to get lost in the shuffle and confusion as a defense scrambles.
In this case it worked even though Denver wasn’t exactly going all out for the block; they even dropped a few players into coverage to no avail, which might hint at why Joseph was so upset.
It’s also a solid time to pull it out; the risk is essentially nil barring a defensive touchdown, as the half was going to be over. It all worked out for Pittsburgh, as they tied things up at 10-10 heading to halftime.