Philly Special
Philly Special


Philly Special
The Philly Special (also known as Philly Philly) was a trick play between Philadelphia Eagles players Corey Clement, Trey Burton and Nick Foles on fourth-down-and-goal

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Philly Special U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of the game Philadelphia Eagles
(13–3) New England Patriots
(13–3) 41 33 Head coach:
Doug Pederson Head coach:
Bill Belichick 1234 Total PHI 913712 41 NE 39147 33 Date February 4, 2018Stadium U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MinnesotaReferee Gene SteratoreAttendance 67,612TV in the United StatesNetwork NBCAnnouncers Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, and Michele Tafoya

The Philly Special[1] (also known as Philly Philly)[2] was a trick play between Philadelphia Eagles players Corey Clement, Trey Burton and Nick Foles on fourth-down-and-goal toward the end of the second quarter of Super Bowl LII. On the play, quarterback Foles moved up to behind his offensive line and the ball was directly snapped to running back Clement. Clement went on to pitch the ball to Burton, who passed the ball to a wide-open Foles for the touchdown; Foles thereby became the first player in Super Bowl history to both throw and catch a touchdown.[3] Eagles coach Doug Pederson's decision to go for a touchdown rather than attempt a field-goal on the play helped put the Eagles in a better position to defeat the New England Patriots 41–33, and subsequently win Super Bowl LII, their first championship in 57 years.[4] Many analysts have since called the play one of the gutsiest play-calls in Super Bowl history.[5]

It was described by NFL Films as “a play that the Eagles had never called before, run on 4th down by an undrafted rookie running back pitching the football to a third-string tight end who had never attempted an NFL pass before, throwing to a backup quarterback who had never caught an NFL (or college) pass before, on the biggest stage for football.”[6][7]

Contents Background

A play identical to the Philly Special had been successfully run at the college level on a two-point conversion attempt in 2012 by Clemson with Andre Ellington, DeAndre Hopkins and Tajh Boyd all involved against Georgia Tech.[8] In 2016, the play was run in the NFL by the Chicago Bears against the Minnesota Vikings, at U.S. Bank Stadium, the same stadium in which the Philly Special also took place.[9] Like Clemson, the Bears' attempt, led by Matt Barkley, Jeremy Langford and Cameron Meredith, was a success as they scored a touchdown on the play. Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was a member of the Bears at the time, stated his team's wide receivers coach Mike Groh, a former Bears coach in the same position, introduced the play to Doug Pederson. Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich considered using it against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game before Super Bowl LIII, but relented due to the lopsided score.[10] The Patriots also pulled off a version of the Philly Special against the Eagles in 2015. Tom Brady wandered out of the pocket and the ball was snapped to James White. White then pitched the ball to Danny Amendola who connected with Brady for a 36-yard pass.[11]

Nick Foles had played as a tight end in high school during his sophomore year. After the Super Bowl, he stated that the last time he had caught a pass for a touchdown was when he was in high school.[12] Trey Burton, at his high school, had been a first team all-state quarterback during his junior and senior years. During his freshman year at the University of Florida, he scored six touchdowns in a single game, breaking the team record set by Tim Tebow.[13]

Foles' experience as quarterback and tight end was at Westlake High near Austin, Texas. Sam Ehlinger, who would go on to start as quarterback at the University of Texas, also played at Westlake and ran this same play during his junior year on November 28, 2015. Soon after the Super Bowl finished, Ehlinger tweeted a video of his high school touchdown catch, saying "It's a Westlake thing."[14][15]

Super Bowl LII game action prior to the play

During the second quarter, the Patriots had attempted a trick play with quarterback Tom Brady running a pattern as a receiver. The ball was thrown on target by Danny Amendola, but it slipped through Brady's hands. The drive ended after the next play with the Eagles taking possession.[16]

During Philadelphia's drive previous to their attempt at a trick play at the end of the second quarter, Nick Foles' pass was intercepted by Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon.[17] The Patriots, led by Tom Brady, drove down the field and scored on a James White 26 yard touchdown run to cut the Eagles lead to 3.[18][19] After a Kenjon Barner kick return to the 30 yard line and two plays for 7 yards, the Eagles were faced with 3rd and 3. Nick Foles was able to find Corey Clement on a wheel route for 55 yards, which set up first-and-goal, but the Eagles' drive stalled, which brought up fourth-and-goal.[20]

The play Diagram of the Philly Special

Foles lined up in the shotgun formation, but moved up to the right side of the offensive line behind right tackle Lane Johnson and yelled "kill, kill", followed by "Lane, Lane." Foles then stayed on the right side of the offensive line and the ball was snapped to running back Corey Clement. Clement then ran left and flipped the ball to Trey Burton, to complete a reverse to the right side of the field. Finally, Burton threw the ball to Foles, who ran a route to the right corner of the end zone and made the catch for a Philadelphia touchdown. After the extra-point was successfully kicked by Jake Elliott, the Eagles went up 22–12, maintaining the score into halftime.

All three players who touched the ball on this play began the season as backups. Corey Clement was a third-string running back, Trey Burton was a third string tight-end and Nick Foles began the season as the backup quarterback to Carson Wentz.[21][22][23]

Many designs of this play following the Super Bowl have TE Zach Ertz blocking in a different location.

Broadcasting calls

Before the play was called, NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth expressed his shock on-air that the Eagles would go for it, as he said, "This is an unbelievable call...This is like going for an onside kick. This could decide the game."[24]

Television

Al Michaels made the call with Collinwsorth for NBC. Michaels' call:

“ 4th and Goal. And they're gonna snap it and it's TREY BURTON WHO THROWS, CAUGHT FOLES, touchdown! How do you figure? ” Radio

Eagles broadcasters Merrill Reese and Mike Quick made the call for 94.1 WIP, the team's flagship station. Reese's call:

“ Foles in the gun. Clement to his right. Now lines up behind Foles. Foles moves to the right and it goes directly to Clement and Clement reverses it and it goes into the end zone...AND IT'S A TOUCHDOWN BY NICK FOLES.[25] ” Controversy

Following the play, Patriots fans questioned if it was legal.[26] According to the NFL Rulebook, the "offensive team must have at least seven players on line" and defines that a non-snapper player is on the line if the player's helmet "break a vertical plane that passes through the beltline of the snapper."[27] However, when looking back at the play, they argued that Eagles' wide-receiver Alshon Jeffery wasn't on the line of scrimmage, but rather slightly off it. Therefore, they argued, the Eagles had only six players on the line of scrimmage instead of the required seven. Fox Sports rules expert and former NFL referee Mike Pereira even said "...They lined up wrong...Not only that, it’s a trick play. And if you’re going to run a trick-type play, then you have to be lined up properly...It’s kind of one of those that has no effect on the play. I get it. But they didn’t line up properly. And it really should’ve been called."[28][29] However, before the snap, Jeffery pointed to the down judge several times, asking if he was lined up correctly and got a head nod in return each time, indicating he was properly aligned.[30] This practice is typical at all levels of the sport for confirming proper alignment before a play.[30][31]

Aftermath

The Eagles went on to win Super Bowl LII, 41–33. It was the team's first NFL championship since 1960, and first ever Super Bowl win.[32]

After the game, coach Doug Pederson told reporters "We call the Philly special..." Pederson also noted that the play came from “... at different plays around the league and the collegiate ranks, and things that over the years that might fit what we do. We found this one that fit, and we’ve been working on it for the last couple of weeks and tonight was the night.”[33]

Two days after the game, Showtime's Inside the NFL released footage with audio between Coach Doug Pederson and Nick Foles. It showed Nick Foles suggesting the Philly Special, saying "You want Philly Philly?", and Pederson responding, after a thoughtful pause, by saying “Yeah, let’s do it."[34][35]

On February 20, ESPN's Darren Rovell announced that the Philadelphia Eagles had filed for a trademark for the term "Philly Special." If the team wins the rights, they would most likely use the term for apparel and other paraphernalia. Seven other groups, including Yuengling, also filed for the trademark.[36] Yuengling later retracted their file for the trademark.

At the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando, Doug Pederson said that the play is being unofficially retired for at least the next season due to other teams' awareness of the play.[37]

On June 14, 2018 the Eagles received their Super Bowl rings. The bezel of the ring contained 127 diamonds, which is the total from the numbers of the jerseys of the three players who handled the ball after the snap on the Philly Special - Corey Clement (30), Trey Burton (88) and Nick Foles (9).[38][39]

In September 2018, a statue commemorating the Philly Special, showing the moment of discussion between Nick Foles and Doug Pederson, was unveiled at Lincoln Financial Field.[40]

On September 6, 2018, during the first game of the 2018 season, the Eagles ran a similar trick play against the Atlanta Falcons successfully, gaining a first down. Despite the Philly Special being occasionally called "Philly Philly" due to the conversation Foles and Pederson had regarding calling that play, Pederson indicated the play in the Falcons-Eagles game is called "Philly Philly." It is notable that in Super Bowl LII, the Patriots ran a play that was essentially identical, albeit not successful, to the Philly Philly play the Eagles ran against the Falcons.[41]

References
  1. ^ Jones, Lindsay H. (February 5, 2018). "Nick Foles' trick-play TD catch in Super Bowl was true 'Philly Special'". USA Today. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  2. ^ Hurley, Michael (February 8, 2018). "Patriots-Eagles Mic'd Up In Super Bowl LII: Foles, Pederson Had No Fear Of Belichick's Defense". WBZ-TV. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  3. ^ Graziano, Dan (February 4, 2018). "Guts and glory: Eagles coach Doug Pederson had game for the ages". ESPN. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  4. ^ Manahan, Kevin (February 4, 2018). "Super Bowl: Eagles vs. Patriots RECAP, score and stats". NJ.com. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  5. ^ Graziano, Dan (February 4, 2018). "Guts and glory: Eagles coach Doug Pederson had game for the ages". ESPN. Retrieved April 7, 2018. 
  6. ^ Super Bowl LII Like You Have Never Seen it Before (NFL Films, posted to YouTube on Feb 12, 2018)
  7. ^ The "Philly Special" Stuns Belichick, Super Bowl LII (NFL Turning Point, NFL Films, posted to YouTube on Feb 7, 2018)
  8. ^ Hopkins to Boyd 2-pt Conversion (2012 Clemson vs Ga Tech, posted to YouTube on Mar 18, 2016)
  9. ^ The "Philly Special" Stuns Belichick (Super Bowl LII) | Eagles vs. Patriots | NFL Turning Point (NFL Films, posted to YouTube on Feb 7, 2018)
  10. ^ Emma, Chris (February 5, 2018). "Philly Special, Eagles' Wild Trick Touchdown, Was Borrowed From Bears". WBBM-TV. Retrieved August 20, 2018. 
  11. ^ Toole, Connor (February 2018). "The Patriots Pulled Off Their Own Version Of 'The Philly Special' Against The Eagles In 2015". BroBible. Retrieved September 6, 2018. 
  12. ^ NFL Primetime post-game interview with Nick Foles (ESPN, Feb 4, 2018, on YouTube)
  13. ^ "Kentucky vs. Florida - Game Recap - September 25, 2010 - ESPN". ESPN.com. 
  14. ^ "Sam Ehlinger on Twitter". Twitter. 
  15. ^ Nick Foles' high school ran the same trick play the Eagles used in Super Bowl LII (USA Today Sports, by Steven Ruiz, February 4, 2018 8:35 pm)
  16. ^ Patriots run perfect trick play in Super Bowl but Tom Brady gets gator arms (CBS Sports, by Will Brinson @WillBrinson, Feb 5, 2018)
  17. ^ Bird, Hayden (February 4, 2018). "The Patriots followed Duron Harmon's goal-line interception with a 90-yard touchdown drive". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  18. ^ Buchmasser, Bernd (February 4, 2018). "Super Bowl 52 Patriots vs Eagles: James White scores New England's first touchdown of the day". Pats Pulpit. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  19. ^ Florjancic, Matthew (February 4, 2018). "WATCH: James White caps 90-yard drive with touchdown run for New England Patriots". Cleveland: WKYC-TV. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  20. ^ Johnson, Raphielle (February 4, 2018). "Corey Clement 55-Yard Catch Puts Eagles In Red Zone". FanRagSports.com. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  21. ^ Belson, Ken; Longman, Jeré (February 5, 2018). "How Nick Foles and the Eagles Tricked the Patriots". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2018. 
  22. ^ Beaton, Andrew; Cohen, Ben (February 5, 2018). "The Trick Play the Philadelphia Eagles Borrowed to Win the Super Bowl". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  23. ^ Smith, EJ (February 4, 2018). "Video: Eagles' Super Bowl trick play ends with Nick Foles catching a touchdown". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  24. ^ Pergament, Alan (February 4, 2018). "Michaels, Collinsworth have strong, perplexing moments on Super Bowl call". The Buffalo News. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  25. ^ Tornoe, Rob (February 5, 2018). "Listen to Merrill Reese's call of the Eagles' Super Bowl win". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  26. ^ "Was the 'Philly Special' a legal play?". 
  27. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20180313103104/https://operations.nfl.com/the-rules/2017-nfl-rulebook/
  28. ^ Gallen, Daniel (February 13, 2018). "Rules analyst says Philadelphia Eagles' signature 'Philly Special' in Super Bowl was illegal formation". The Patriot-News. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  29. ^ Rapaport, Daniel (February 12, 2018). "Mike Pereira: Eagles lined up illegally on 'Philly Special'". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  30. ^ a b Kirshner, Alex (February 5, 2018). "No, that Foles TD catch wasn't from an illegal formation". SB Nation. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  31. ^ Zeigler, Syd (15 November 2016). "NFL illegal formation violations are increasing, and the league is cracking down". SB Nation. Retrieved 13 July 2018. 
  32. ^ King, Peter (February 5, 2018). "The Philly Special: Inside the 'Set of Stones' Play Call That Helped the Eagles Win the Super Bowl". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  33. ^ Doug Pederson Post Game Press Conference, "We call it the Philly special..." (YouTube). Sports Complex. February 4, 2018. Retrieved March 6, 2018. 
  34. ^ Knoblauch, Austin (February 7, 2018). "Nick Foles ordered up 'Philly Special' trick TD play call". National Football League. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  35. ^ "'Philly, Philly': 'Inside The NFL' Footage Reveals Nick Foles Made Trick Play Call In Super Bowl". KYW-TV. February 6, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  36. ^ Chiari, Mike (February 20, 2018). "Eagles File to Trademark 'Philly Special" After Super Bowl 52 Win over Patriots". Bleacher Report. Retrieved February 20, 2018. 
  37. ^ Kerr, Jeff (March 27, 2018). "Doug Pederson unofficially retires 'Philly Special'". 247 Sports. Retrieved March 31, 2018. 
  38. ^ West, Jenna (June 14, 2018). "The Eagles' Super Bowl Rings Pay Tribute to 'Philly Special' and Dog Masks". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 16, 2018. 
  39. ^ The Making of the Super Bowl LII Championship Ring (Philadelphia Eagles, posted to YouTube on Jun 15, 2018)
  40. ^ Campitelli, Enrico (September 5, 2018). "Bud Light unveils 'Philly Special' statue of Doug Pederson and Nick Foles". NBC Sports. Retrieved September 5, 2018. 
  41. ^ "How the Eagles stole 'Philly Philly' from the Patriots". NBC Sports. Retrieved September 7, 2018. 
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