During the 2011 NFL regular season, defensive end Andre Carter was as close to a sacking machine as the New England Patriots defense had in some time. Then age 32 and working a one-year contract, Carter hauled in ten sacks in the season’s first 15 games, good enough for an invite the 2012 Pro Bowl. After tearing his left quadriceps tendon early in a victory over the Denver Broncos in Week 15, Carter has yet to record another take-down of a quarterback behind the line of scrimmage since re-signing in New England on October 22, 2013. But the Patriots fan base has a reason to be eagerly awaiting the next one: Carter’s sack dance.
One reason why there has not been a public outcry for Carter’s post-sack jubilation is that it is not even the most well-known sack dance in the NFL. When the average fan thinks of the most popular sack dances of today’s NFL they will most likely name BJ Raji’s interpretation of belly-dancing, Jared Allen’s jack-in-the-box or the 2007 New York Giants pirouetting to Jim Jones’ “We Fly High,” not Andre Carter’s version of the high jump.
Heck, Andre Carter does not even have the most popular celebration on the Patriots 53-man roster. Obviously, Rob Gronkowski has brought back the most classic celebration—the spike—to heights never seemingly imaginable. Gronkowski’s Take-Me-To-Foggy-London-Towne spike last year at Wembley has gone down in the annals of NFL lore and even teammate Steven Ridley has a celebration to call his own. The running back has made the build-the-door-kick-it-down touchdown celebration all his and will surely do it again if fumbleitis doesn’t have something to say about it.
If you have forgotten how Carter rewards himself for getting to the quarterback that is totally acceptable. He only totaled 2.5 sacks playing in 12 games for the 4-12 Oakland Raiders last season, and his last sack in New England came in the first quarter of a 34-27 Week 14 win at the Washington Redskins in 2011. On that play Carter forced a fumble on Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman, and the Patriots scooped the pigskin up for six, vacating the celebration Carter made possible.
Now what exactly does Carter do after he gets to the quarterback? It is quite elementary really, probably the most basic of all sack celebrations. All Andre Carter does is jump in the air, as high as Andre Carter can and as compact as Andre Carter can. It is as if he is in the middle of a mean double dutch with two young, elementary school girls rhyming along the way. The simplicity of the celebration makes it that awesome and that underrated. Sack the quarterback, gleefully jump as vertical as you can, and high-five your teammates back to the defensive huddle. It does not scream of self-worship that most other sack dances do.
We almost caught a glimpse of the “Andre Carter” late last week against the Broncos. In overtime with the Broncos hovering near midfield, Carter came through the line and almost got to Peyton Manning as he was rolling to the right. Manning felt Carter’s heat as he rolled out of the pocket and dumped the ball incomplete, just out of reach for the officials to call him for an intentional grounding penalty.
This week seems like a perfect time for Carter to sack Case Keenum, his first in almost two years in New England. The Houston Texans are 11th in the NFL in sacks allowed (31) and the Patriots have an above-average defense when it comes to getting to the quarterback (34 sacks, 6th overall), especially a young, inexperienced one in Keenum. If Carter gets a sack maybe we will even see him grab two teammates to get on each side of him so he celebrate like he really jumping some rope. Yeah, Bill Belichick would not allow that—I’ll take the simple high jump.