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Jets’ ‘butt fumble’ a painful Thanksgiving memory

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is hit

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is hit by New England Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham (96) and Justin Francis (94) during the second half of an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: AP / Julio Cortez

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Every Thanksgiving Day, some Jets fans think about the “butt fumble.” It’s one of the more infamous plays in franchise history, maybe NFL history. And it reached the five-year anniversary mark this Thanksgiving Day.

A quick recap: On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012, the Jets trailed the Patriots 14-0 in the second quarter. Then quarterback Mark Sanchez took a snap and missed a handoff to fullback Lex Hilliard. Sanchez then tried to run the ball but ran into the backside of guard Brandon Moore and fumbled. The ball was scooped up by safety Stephen Gregory who scored on a 32-yard touchdown return for a 21-0 lead. When the game ended, the Patriots defeated the Jets, 49-19.

The play never died on social media as replay after replay after replay was shown on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“Yeah, I think so,” said wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who was a rookie playing with Seattle at the time. “The internet will never let it go away, the internet last forever.”

There are just three players left on the Jets from that 2012 game, Muhammad Wilkerson, Demario Davis and Bilal Powell.

Davis, a rookie in 2012, remembers more than the fumble.

“I don’t think about it,” Davis said. “It was something that happened. That game, all together, was atrocious. We were horrible. We didn’t show up, they tore us up. It wasn’t just that, the “butt fumble,” it was a kick return we fumbled and they recovered it for a touchdown. They had an 80-yard wheel route for a touchdown. It was just an atrocious game, just like one of those games you block out.”

Austin-Seferian Jenkins was in college, University of Washington, when the “butt fumble” was born.

“I haven’t heard about it, nobody really talks about it,” he said of attention paid to the event this week. “I’m aware of it, they show it on ESPN but it’s like ‘whatever.’ ”

The Jets may have forgotten about it, but the play lives on.

“It was made to be more than what it was,” Davis said. “For me, it’s not like this most horrible play ever. Maybe if I was in a different locker room I would have a different outlook but I was part of the team that it happened on. Just a bad play.”

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