MINNEAPOLIS — On Sunday, the Eagles returned to U.S. Bank Stadium, where Doug Pederson once called one of the most famous trick plays in NFL history.
This time, his trick play didn’t work out so well.
It was just a bad idea.
Late in the second quarter of the Eagles’ blowout loss to the Vikings, Pederson called a fake field goal on 4th-and-4. Kicker Jake Elliott took a direct snap and the play was designed to be a pass to Dallas Goedert, who would — in theory — either go for a touchdown or step out of bounds to give the Eagles another shot at the end zone.
That didn’t happen.
“I was the only receiver there,” Goedert said. “We had the look that we wanted. The linebacker played over towards my side a little bit more. It still might have been there, but it obviously wasn’t exactly how we wanted it to go. In hindsight, those three points would have been nice.”
Basically, the Eagles expected No. 41 Anthony Harris to sit in the middle and not take away Goedert on the short side of the field. Earlier in the game, on a 53-yard field goal, Harris broke to his right, but the ball was on the other hash. The Vikings left the short side wide open for Goedert. That, along with the Vikings’ tape, influenced the fake.
On the fake, if the Eagles didn’t like what they saw as they lined up, they were going to kick the 39-yard field goal. But the Eagles got the look they wanted pre-snap. It’s just that Harris went with Goedert this time.
“Yeah, we had the look we wanted, tried to take advantage of it, get a little bit closer opportunity to maybe shoot it in the end zone after that,” Pederson said. “They made a great play.”
This is a play the Eagles have been working on in practice, but Elliott said this was the first time he’s ever thrown a pass in the game. The design is for Elliott to throw the ball immediately, but when he got the ball, he thought Goedert was too covered. Elliott tried to make something happen, but even if Goedert comes back and catches the ball, the clock would probably run out. The Eagles had no timeouts and didn’t even have a QB on the field to clock it.
This play call from Pederson was a bad one for two reasons:
1. Kicking the FG would have given the Eagles three points and they were getting the ball back after half. As it turns out, the Eagles scored on the opening drive of the second half to cut the lead to seven (24-17). But had they gotten those three points, they could have tried a two-point conversion to put them down three.
2. If you’re gonna go for it, just go for it. Why put the ball in your kicker’s hand instead of Carson Wentz’s? If the Eagles would have converted with Wentz, they would have had enough time to clock the ball and try for the end zone, if that was the idea.
“I mean, hey, Coach made the call, and if it works, it would have been awesome,” Wentz said, “and it didn't, so that's football.”
There were plenty of other reasons why the Eagles lost on Sunday, but this fake field goal just wasn’t a good call from Pederson. Ultimately, maybe it didn’t matter, but a better play call there certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
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