Oakland Raiders punt returner Dwayne Harris made one of those miracle plays Monday night that only special teams coordinators really believe in.
After the Denver Broncos tried to keep a Raiders punt out of the end zone, Harris scooped up the loose ball on Oakland's 1-yard line and returned it 99 yards to score a touchdown. The play, which tied for the second-longest punt return in NFL history, sent Raiders coach Jon Gruden into a fist-raising frenzy on the sideline.
Officials reviewing the play determined that Denver's Isaac Yiadom was not touching the end zone when he tried to down the ball on the 1-yard line. Yiadom also didn't have control of the ball on the ground as he pushed it away, allowing Harris to pick it up and begin his improbable sprint down the sideline to help give Oakland a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
"It was intentional. I knew I was going to try to return it if he had tried to kick it back or throw it back," Harris said after the game. "I have been trying to get that play all season. If everyone has ever seen me try to return inside the 10, I am always trying to get that play. As soon as he did it, I knew it was an opportunity for me to take advantage of it."
For Harris, it was his first touchdown since his 2016 campaign with the New York Giants. Per NFL Research, Harris joins Patrick Peterson (99 yards) and Robert Bailey (103) as the only players to score a TD on a punt return of 99 yards or more. Harris covered 157.5 total yards from the snap of the play and hit a top speed of 19.92 MPH during the return, according to Next Gen Stats.
"You just have to know the rules, if they touch the ball, we can touch it, fumble the ball, on the 1-yard line," Harris said. "At that moment you just have to know the rules. Me being a veteran like I am, knowing the rules, I just took advantage of it."
Harris' touchdown along with a 24-yard scoring run by Doug Martin and a 43-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson gave the Raiders a 17-0 halftime lead. They went on to win the game, 27-14.
Naturally, the NFL world took a brief hiatus from its egg nog sipping on Christmas Eve to give kudos to one of the most spectacular plays of the season: