By Chris Emma–
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (670 The Score) — A play that will go down in Super Bowl history, “Philly Special,” has some roots in Chicago.
Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery wasn’t at all surprised to see the wild fourth-and-goal play work because he had seen it pulled off by the Bears in that same stadium. That’s where Philadelphia offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he derived the plan. It proved to be a game-changer in the Eagles’ 41-33 win over the Patriots on Sunday, which marked their first Super Bowl championship ever.
“There’s several different variations of that play that we’ve seen people run,” Reich said after the game. “We were in particular copying the Bears’ version of it.”
Late in the first half of Super Bowl LII, the Eagles led the Patriots 15-12 when coach Doug Pederson elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Rather than powering through with a back like LeGarrette Blount, he was willing to roll the dice.
Running back Corey Clement fielded the direct snap and rolled to his left, pitching to tight end Trey Burton, who rolled to his right and had quarterback Nick Foles open in the end zone. It was executed the same way the Bears managed with running back Jeremy Langford, receiver Cam Meredith and quarterback Matt Barkley back in the final game of the 2016 regular season.
According to Jeffery, the play was brought to Reich and Pederson by Eagles receivers coach Mike Groh, who worked with the Bears from 2013-’15 and moved to Philadelphia in 2017.
“It worked the same way,” Jeffery said with a smile.
The play hails from Clemson, the South Carolina Gamecock Jeffery reluctantly admitted of his college rival, and emerged into the Bears’ playbook with then-offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who’s now working in the same position with the Dolphins.
Reich had the play ready for the right time but had been cautious in calling it. He held back from using it during the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings, who fell victim to it against the Bears during that Week 17 game in 2016. Plus, that game turned into a blowout.
It was clear early into Super Bowl LII that this game would come down to the wire and a trick play could alter everything. The Patriots would receive the ball to start the second half, and Pederson knew he needed to be aggressive against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and a modern-era dynasty that may be falling now.
Sure enough, “Philly Special” — which has made its rounds through other playbooks — will be a call cherished forever in Philadelphia.