Last year, Nelson Agholor caught nine passes the last seven weeks of the season. This year, he caught nine passes in the Super Bowl.
On a team of inspiring stories, Agholor’s is one of the most inspiring.
A year ago, his confidence was so shot he couldn’t make even the easiest catch. He looked overmatched and overwhelmed. He spoke openly about his lost confidence, and things got so bad he was even benched and inactive for a week.
What a remarkable reversal.
We all saw a different Agholor as early as training camp, and the third-year wide receiver kept it up all year. He finished the regular season with 62 catches for 768 yards — more than his first two years combined — and added eight touchdowns.
In the playoffs? How about 15 catches for 167 yards, including 9 for 84 in the Super Bowl.
What a thing.
“This whole year’s been a blessing,” Agholor said. “At the end of the day, it’s me trying to be who I’m supposed to be. From here on out, I’ve just got to keep working hard and have great focus to get better each year.”
Agholor quickly became Carson Wentz’s favorite big-play receiver, opening the season with a 58-yard touchdown against the Redskins, and he didn’t slow down. In total, he caught six passes of 35 yards or more in all — including a 42-yarder from Nick Foles in the NFC Championship Game. That was tied for seventh most in the NFL this year.
And on Sunday, he was at his best, with a career-high nine receptions, breaking his previous career high of eight set in L.A. against the Rams on the day Wentz got hurt.
Including a couple runs, Agholor finished the 2017 postseason with 196 yards from scrimmage. Only four Eagles wide receivers have ever had more in a single postseason: Alshon Jeffery this year, DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis in 2008 and Harold Carmichael in 1979.
Agholor’s nine catches are second-most ever by an Eagle in a playoff game — behind Brent Celek’s 10 against the Cardinals in the 2008 NFC Championship Game — and 14th-most ever in a Super Bowl. The only NFC receivers with more catches in a Super Bowl are Jerry Rice and Hakeem Nicks.
Agholor had a 17-yard catch on a 3rd-and-6 on the third-quarter touchdown drive and a 24-yard gain on the drive that culminated in Jake Elliott's 42-yard fourth-quarter field goal, but he saved his best work for the Eagles' go-ahead drive in the game's final minutes, catching passes of 10, 18 and 10 yards on consecutive snaps to get the offense from near midfield to inside the Patriots' 15-yard line.
Three plays later, Foles threw the game-winning 11-yard touchdown to Zach Ertz.
Last year, three catches for 38 yards would have been one of Agholor's best games. This year, it was his production on the game-winning fourth-quarter drive in the Super Bowl.
“Honestly, I think that I’m a great example for everybody else who might be going through something similar to what I went through last year,” he said.
“You just have to believe in yourself. You have to work very hard and just make no excuses. That is my recipe.
“I can’t point the finger at anybody else for last year. That’s why I won’t point the finger at anybody else for this year, you know? You just have to work very hard.”