Fifteen years later, Andy Reid’s running backs know when to not score
Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon passed on scoring a touchdown late in the Super Bowl, in order to help his team keep the ball away from the Eagles, and to cement the win.
McKinnon recently explained that they practice this scenario every week, and that’s how coach Andy Reid coaches the players.
But it was the players who originally coached Reid on the strategy. Rewind to 2007. Eagles running back Brian Westbrook opted to go down late in a 10-6 win over the Cowboys not because he’d been coached that way, but because teammate Jon Runyan had given Westbrook an impromptu order to do so in the huddle.
“I got a stern talking-to by Runyan right before that play,” Westbrook said at the time. “He said, ‘Listen, if you’re down to the one, take a knee.’”
Westbrook said he wasn’t sure it was a good idea, but Runyan wouldn’t let it go.
“I looked back and I saw all 6-7 or 6-8 of him running toward me saying, ‘Get down,’” Westbrook said at the time. “So I got down.”
“They were going to let us score to get the ball back, so I suggested this because then they won’t get it back,” Runyan said at the time. “In a crazy game like this, you never know, you are a long kickoff return or a crazy play and an onside kick away from possibly losing the game.”
In Super Bowl LVII, the team that first used that strategy in a high-profile way ended up on the wrong side of it, largely because Runyan’s on-the-fly mandate to Westbrook has become baked in to the way Reid coaches his team.