The line on the play-by-play sheet says, “N. Foles pass deep left to T. Smith for 41 yards, TOUCHDOWN.” But, oh boy, it was so much more than that.
It was the Eagles’ first possession after halftime. They held a 24-7 lead, so there was some comfort, but you never really know what adjustments an opponent might have made at intermission.
The Eagles were in the midst of a decent drive when Doug Pederson reached into his bag for a play that would keep momentum on the Eagles’ side. He called for a flea-flicker.
When Pederson sent in the play, Nick Foles’ reaction was priceless.
“You just try not to smile,” the quarterback said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever run a flea-flicker, so it was my first time and I just tried not to smile.”
Foles handed off to running back Corey Clement, who took three steps toward the line of scrimmage before pitching it back to Foles. Foles then stepped up in the pocket and threw a rainbow to Torrey Smith, who had gotten past cornerback Trae Waynes. The pass landed in Smith’s arms shortly before safety Harrison Smith arrived. Touchdown, Eagles.
Corey Clement says Ajayi practiced the flea flicker all week, Clement never did but he was the back on the field when it was called.
— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) January 22, 2018
“[My reaction] was don’t give up a sack,” Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said, chuckling. “Nah. That play takes time to develop. Once I saw the ball in the air, I knew it was a touchdown. That’s a good feeling to see stuff executed so well.”
Zach Ertz said he was shocked that Pederson called it, but he was happy that Smith was on the receiving end. It has been somewhat of an inconsistent season for Smith, whose two best games were against the Rams in Week 14 (6 catches, 100 yards) and Sunday night against the Vikings (5 catches, 69 yards, 1 TD).
“I didn’t know they were going to call it,” said Smith, whose five receptions were the most he has had in his 10-game playoff career. “Coach P. has some tricks up his sleeve.”
The play gave the Eagles a 31-7 lead and essentially turned Lincoln Financial Field into a second-half party.
“There’s got to be a reason for running a gadget play,” Pederson explained. “I just felt that as I game-planned this week and studied our formations and some of the things that we did, I felt like we’d get an opportunity to at least attempt the play … and it’s great when they work.”
Afterward, Foles was still having trouble containing his smile. This time, though, it was because the idea that he was going to the Super Bowl was slowly starting to sink in.
“Anytime you are a quarterback and you get to do a play like that, it’s exciting,” he said. “Sometimes, they go really bad. I’m just glad it worked and we were able to get a touchdown out of it.”