CHICAGO - With the game and the season on the line, the Eagles ran a play for … Golden Tate.
Hey, maybe that trade wasn't so bad after all?
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For most of the time since the Eagles acquired Tate from the Lions for a third-round pick, that trade hasn't looked very good. The Eagles struggled to integrate Tate in the offense and he's had trouble getting on the field.
But with the whole damn thing on the line, they dialed up a play that is specifically designed to get the ball in his hands. And Tate made it work.
The Eagles spent plenty of time working on that sprint out play this week in practice and Zach Ertz said Tate was "dominating" on that route all week.
So maybe that's why Doug Pederson felt good going with it on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line with the season on the line. Forget the missed field goal by Cody Parkey; if the Eagles don't score on fourth down, they lose right then and there with a minute left.
It says a lot about the Eagles' trust in Tate that they were willing to go to him in a crucial spot. It might say even more about Tate. Because despite being an afterthought for most of his games with the Eagles, he's stayed ready, he's prepared like a starter. He's going to be a free agent in a few months, but that has been the furthest thing on his mind. He just wants to help his new team win football games.
Tate, 30, said it meant a lot to him that the coaching staff and team had enough faith in him - even as a relative newcomer - to basically put the season in his hands.
That's when I want the ball. That's when I want to be able to make something happen, is when it's crunch time. I'm just happy I was able to do my part this week and this weekend and help our team win.
Tate's stat line on the night wasn't incredible. He had five catches for 46 yards and that touchdown. But he had the touchdown, a big nine-yard catch to convert a third down and a 28-yarder in the first half where he was absolutely walloped at the end of the play.
Even though he knew he was going to get demolished, he hung in there and made the catch. This is a guy who wants to win; that next contract can wait.
"I figure, I'm getting hit anyway so might as well catch it to make it feel a little bit better," Tate said. "Really good throw and I tried to make a play, held on. My ribs are still intact, which is great."
While still holding his ribs, Tate managed to make a first-down motion. He joked he did it after he realized he wasn't coughing up blood.
Tate's teammates have really seemed to take a liking to him since late October, when he arrived. Shortly after he got to Philly, Carson Wentz invited Tate to church, Jordan Matthews invited his family to his house for a chat and everyone has made him feel welcome. The Eagles turned what could have been a frustrating and bad situation into something that never became sour. And it got sweet on Sunday in Chicago.
The Eagles will be playing next weekend and we'll see what kind of role Tate has. Either way, Sunday's win should definitely make that trade a little more palatable.
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