Jake Elliott made two 40-plus yard field goals in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl just 11 months ago, so a wild-card game in front of a couple dozens of family members probably isn’t going to get the best of him.
In a game that might be very close, the second-year kicker could be the Eagles’ difference-maker.
Elliott, who is a native of Western Springs, Illinois, (about 20 minutes from the city) will return home this weekend to face the Chicago Bears in a wild-card game. It won’t be his first trip to Soldier Field, but it will be his first time playing there.
“It’s exciting,” Elliott said. “It’s exciting to go back home. Obviously, I’ll have a lot of family there at the game. I haven’t played a game back there since high school, so it will be cool to go back. Other than that, it’s just another game.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the count was at 21 tickets going to family and friends for Sunday’s game. It’s not exactly easy to know how to cut it off. There will probably be even more folks in the crowd rooting specifically for Elliott, who claims his entire family has converted from Bears fans to Eagles fans once he showed up in Philadelphia.
Elliott on Thursday admitted kicking in the playoffs last season was a little different than the regular season but stopped short of saying he was nervous.
But having made all seven of his field goal attempts in last year’s playoffs, including his three field goals in the Super Bowl, has to give him some confidence. Including going 2 for 3 on extra points, Elliott accounted for 11 points in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles won by eight.
“I think it helps being in those situations before,” Elliott said. “I’m just going to approach it like any other game, regular season game, preseason game. I’m gonna go out there and make my kicks.”
Everyone says they’re just going to treat the playoffs as any other game, but Elliott really means it. If you were to hook him up to a heart-rate monitor during games, I doubt you’d see much of a jump. He has this even-keel demeanor that has served him well as a kicker.
Never too high, never too low. It can be boring, but it’s exactly what he wants.
Punter and holder Cameron Johnston chuckled when asked if he’s ever seen Elliott break his normal even-keel demeanor.
“No, he’s the exact same every game,” Johnston said. “I think he did that the whole time he was at Memphis. He’s got his whole routine, he’s pretty set.”
This season, after a rough start, Elliott ended up making 26 of 31 field goal attempts. There should be no surprise about that, because Mr. Even Keel also went 26 for 31 last season as a rookie.
This could end up being a close game. If it is, the Eagles seem to have a pretty clear advantage at the kicker spot with Elliott. The Bears’ kicker is former Eagle Cody Parker, who has struggled this season.
Thanks to a weird period where all he could seemingly do was hit the uprights, Parkey — who is still the most accurate kicker in Eagles history — made just 23 of 30 field goal attempts (76.7 percent) this season.
One guy has made two clutch kicks in the fourth quarter in the Super Bowl. The other hasn’t ever been in the playoffs.
“Yeah, [that experience is] always going to help,” Johnston said. “It’s not going to hurt. He’s a great kicker and he prepares the same every week for every game.”
It just so happens that this game is a playoff contest in his own backyard. Don’t expect Elliott to flinch.
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