No, it didn’t count.
The 57-yard touchdown pass on a misdirection screen from Carson Wentz to Zach Ertz was called back for an illegal formation on 3rd-and-6.
Still, it was a heckuva play. And it all started with how much attention Darren Sproles creates whenever he’s in the game.
“It's like every time Sproles steps on the field, the defense is yelling, ‘Watch the draw, watch the screen! Watch the draw, watch the screen.’ I mean, he is a magnet,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “He just — he's a dynamic player. He has a way of making big plays. You guys have seen it a lot where Darren makes a play, even when he gets tackled how he gets up and pats the ball, he feels like he should have got 10 more yards than he got. And I think that's because great players, they see it in their mind.
“He sees the opening; he sees where he wants to get to and so he just draws a lot of attention. So we have to continue to find ways. I think we have done a fairly good job of that, of not only getting him the ball, but using him as a decoy when we can.”
This touchdown would have given the Eagles a lead in the second quarter. Sure, it didn’t count, but it’s the type of play the Eagles should try to use every once in a while.
Here’s a closer look:
Wentz lines up in a pistol formation, with Sproles behind him. Ertz is off right tackle and the Eagles have trips to the left.
You'll notice Nelson Agholor isn't on the line of scrimmage, which negated the play, but let's take a look at the play itself and why it would have been successful had it counted.
Before the snap, Sproles sprints left and Earl Thomas follows, taking him completely out of the play. Because Sproles is such a dynamic playmaker, the defense has to take notice when he's in motion for what seems like a little swing pass.
At this point, the three receivers to the left look ready to block and Thomas is sprinting toward where he thinks the ball will be, leaving one deep safety in Kam Chancellor.
Also, take a look at Ertz off the right tackle. He engages his block just long enough.
As Ertz releases his man, you can see that Chancellor has started to cheat toward his right side of the field, where Sproles ran as a decoy. Instead, Ertz is open for a screen pass, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has a huge block, and center Jason Kelce is ready to sprint.
Once Ertz catches the ball, Kelce is already out in front by about four yards. Most centers wouldn't have the speed to lead block for 45 yards, but Kelce isn't most centers. While fans always seem to notice when Kelce gets blown up by a nose tackle, this is what he’s always been very good at.
Without Kelce, Chancellor is probably going to take a good angle and stop Ertz around here. But Kelce is out in front and while he doesn't actually need to block Chancellor with his hands yet, he does force the safety to stay wide.
Ertz has gotten a lot of flak this season for not having a ton of yards after catch, but take a look at this cut-back effort. With three guys around him and with Kelce off balance, Ertz cuts back inside and gets into the end zone.
No, this play didn't count. A stupid illegal formation penalty nullified it. But it was a tremendous play call and it's something the Eagles would be wise to go back to later in the season.