The Eagles have been known for their trickery recently. Their most famous play from the Super Bowl was the “Philly Special” that involved Nick Foles catching a touchdown pass from Trey Burton.
Foles caught another pass against in their season-opening win against the Falcons, but this time it just went for a first down. The play, this time called “Philly Philly” involved some trickery, but it wasn’t quite the same play as the acclaimed “Philly Special.” It actually resembled the pass that Tom Brady dropped in the second quarter of Super Bowl 52:
The Patriots' play from the Super Bowl vs. the Eagles' play tonight pic.twitter.com/dhJKUpBlDs— Sean Wagner-McGough (@seanjwagner) September 7, 2018
And that was intentional.
Eagles OT Lane Johnson on Nelson Agholor’s throw to Nick Foles, tells team broadcast it wasn’t Philly Special: “It was the same play the Patriots used — the one that Tom dropped.”— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 7, 2018
Head coach Doug Pederson acknowledged the play’s source after the game too, with just a little shade at the Patriots.
“It’s where we got it from,” he said, via Bleeding Green Nation. “We just put different people in the game.”
It worked for the Eagles and just at the right time. Trailing 6-3 midway through the third quarter, the play helped them continue their drive, which ended with a short touchdown run by Jay Ajayi. The Falcons weren’t expecting the play at all, considering they didn’t have anyone covering the quarterback.
How does the play work?
Catching the defense off guard is an easy way to pick up chunk yards. It’s even easier when the defense isn’t expecting the quarterback to catch a pass. The vast majority of defensive play calls don’t account for the quarterback as a receiver — hence Foles being wide the hell open before Vic Beasley was able to make an attempt to guard him.
Burton, who threw the “Philly Special” in the Super Bowl, congratulated his former teammate Nelson Agholor for a nice throw to Foles in stride.
Burton played a little quarterback in college, but Agholor said he hadn’t played the position since “little league.”
How the play differed from the Philly Special
In the Super Bowl, Foles motioned out to the end of the offensive line before the pass was caught. His route was closer to a wheel route on this play, the route he ran in the Super Bowl was much flatter.
Foles also handed the ball to Corey Clement, who pitched it to Agholor on Thursday night. In the Super Bowl, Clement took the direct snap before getting it to Burton.
How the play differed from the Patriots’ in the Super Bowl
Easy: Foles caught it:
But to get a little more technical, the formation wasn’t the same. Here’s what Pederson said, via Pro Football Talk:
“They were in (one running back, one tight end) personnel. We were in (one running back, two tight ends).”
The Eagles called this play because they needed a spark
Philadelphia’s passing game struggled all game — Foles ended up 117 yards on 34 attempts. As Foles told NBC’s Michele Tafoya, they called it because the offense needed to get something going:
“We needed to do something. I went over there to Doug and we were both thinking the same thing. He called it. It was the right time again. We needed a little boost, a little something. We needed to make a play. It was just the right time for it.”
Pederson agreed with Foles’ sentiment in his postgame press conference.
“It was a play we had put in for this week. It was a play that was in our third down menu. We were on the correct hash mark and it was the right time of the game.”
“Philly Philly was the play.”
In a game that mostly an eyesore (both teams combined for 26 penalties for 236 yards), it was nice to see a bit of excitement from the Eagles. The play put the Eagles in front, and they eventually held on for the 18-12 win in their season opener.