A few hours before the Eagles played the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night, the Jaguars doled out a free lesson about being timid in the playoffs.
The Jaguars were clinging to a 14-10 lead when they got the ball back with 55 seconds left in the second quarter, with two timeouts, on their own 25. Head coach Doug Marrone had Blake Bortles take a knee twice, happy to head into the locker room with a slight lead.
Watching that scenario unfold, plenty of Eagles fans were probably thinking if the Eagles were in a similar situation, "Doug Pederson would never stay safe like that," and they'd be right. Because the Eagles were faced with a situation like that ... and Pederson didn't play it safe.
In the first half of their 38-7 romping over the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game (see breakdown), the Eagles got the ball back with 29 seconds in the first half, when they already had a 21-7 lead. So they marched down the field to kick a 38-yard field goal.
The aggressive Pederson never let his foot off the gas (see report card).
"I just told myself before the game I was going to maintain the aggressiveness in this ballgame," Pederson said. "Listen, it was, a: you win, you keep playing. You lose, you're going home. I didn't want to go home and regret any decision."
Perhaps no play exemplified Pederson's aggressive nature more than the flea flicker early in the third quarter that yielded a 41-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith and put the Eagles up 31-7.
The Eagles had their foot on the Vikings' throats and Pederson gave the signal to step down.
"We love it," said Nick Foles, who admitted he couldn't remember ever running a flea flicker before. "I think he just has such a great feel for the game. He played quarterback and he's coached for a long time. He can feel it."
The flea flicker was a play the Eagles just started practicing and they ran it just a few times during practice this week. Pederson said they used it against the Vikings because they saw opportunities to exploit them down the field. Pederson was dead on.
Rookie Corey Clement was the running back who took the handoff and then pitched the ball back to Foles. After the game, he thanked his position coach Duce Staley for allowing him, a rookie, to be in that situation.
What was Clement thinking when the play got called in?
"S---, I'll do it," Clement said. "You just don't flinch."
After Clement tossed the ball back to Foles, the quarterback unleashed a deep pass to Smith down the sideline. Smith redeemed himself after an earlier drop and hauled it in.
"I didn't know they were going to call it," Smith said. "Coach P has some tricks up his sleeve."
Pederson has had tricks up his sleeve all season. While he hasn't necessarily run gadget plays like the one he pulled out on Sunday night, he has been somewhat of a mad scientist when it comes to play-calling. Last week, offensive coordinator Frank Reich described Pederson's play-calling style as "unorthodox."
A week after putting together a gem of a game against the Falcons, Pederson seemingly coached circles around Mike Zimmer and put together a game plan that helped Foles lead his team to the Super Bowl (see story).
One thing is for sure: Pederson is aggressive. And it seems like his entire team feeds off of it.
"I think they do. I hope they do," Pederson said. "Because I've got a lot of trust in them and I think they've got a lot of trust in me that I'm going to make the right decision. It ultimately comes down to the players on the field. But I do believe they feel that. As long as I'm doing it and the decision is right by them and I'm not putting them in a bad situation, then, yeah, I think they feed off of it and start believing in that."