In Pivotal Moment, Doug Pederson Dials Up Gutsy ‘Philly Special'

MINNEAPOLIS - Frank Reich just started laughing. 

A mere few hours before, his head coach made one of the gutsiest play calls in Super Bowl history ... and it worked to perfection. And now, here's Reich, just off the field from celebrating the Eagles' 41-33 win in Super Bowl LII, and he's being asked about it. 

What's your reaction when Doug Pederson dials it up?

"I can't say exactly what it is, except to say 'what a gutty call,'" Reich marveled, shaking his head. "What a gutty call. That epitomizes Doug. It really does."

On Sunday night against the Patriots, the Eagles used the incredible trick play on 4th-and-goal from the Patriots' 1-yard line with just 38 seconds left in the first half. 

Undrafted rookie Corey Clement took a direct snap, tossed the ball to third-string tight end Trey Burton, who then threw the ball to backup quarterback in the end zone for a touchdown. 

In the Super Bowl! 

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"Have you ever seen a play like that called in the Super Bowl!?" Trey Burton asked. "I haven't. And I've been watching football for a long time."

The Eagles got the play from the Bears, who actually used it against the Vikings last year on a two-point conversion. Alshon Jeffery and wide receivers coach Mike Groh both came over from Chicago this offseason and were able to help install it. 

Jeffery said they called it the "Clemson Special," because Clemson used to run the play before the Bears did. Sometimes plays like this get passes along. The Eagles noticed it watching film of the Bears and Vikings as they began preparations to possibly play Minnesota. 

Once the play got to the NovaCare Complex, it needed a new name. They call it the "Philly Special." That works. 

"That's just something we've been working on, and Doug and I were talking," Foles said. "I was like, 'Let's just run it.' It was a good time, and the end was a little wider than I thought so I was like, 'I really need to sell like I'm not doing anything.' And it worked. Trey made an amazing throw, right on the money. I just looked it in and yeah, we've ripped it for a while, so I was excited to get to run it in the Super Bowl."

The Eagles have been working on the play for a few weeks now and have practiced it once or twice every week during the playoffs; they say Foles never dropped it in practice. Nelson Agholor wasn't worried about Foles dropping it on Sunday. 

"Nick is an awesome ultimate frisbee player so you know he has great hands," Agholor said. 

They were ready to run it against the Vikings last week, but they questioned whether it was wise to run it against the same team the Bears did last year. And in the end, they blew them out and they didn't need it. 

Good thing. Because it came in handy on Sunday night. 

For Burton, who was once recruited out of high school as a quarterback, throwing a touchdown in the Super Bowl was a dream come true. Although he admitted he hadn't dreamed about throwing a touchdown pass since college. 

"Coach got some guts, huh?" Burton said. "It shows you the confidence that he has in the team. Low key, the last couple games we've been in the red zone and I let him know we still had that play. I can't believe he called it."

Believe it. 

At the biggest moment in the biggest game of his life, Pederson didn't get scared. He actually became bolder (see Roob's observations). He became more aggressive, even facing one of the best coaches in NFL history. 

And this is after he seemingly pushed the right buttons all season. For a guy who was questioned more than seemingly any coach in the league, Pederson just pulled off an incredible year. What's even more impressive is that he stayed true to himself. He was aggressive from the first snap in Week 1 until the last snap in the Super Bowl.  

Pederson's team fed off that aggressiveness all year. 

"He said he was going to keep his foot on the gas, he said he was going to do what it takes, said he was going to keep them off balance," Reich said. "And when you do that kind of stuff, you have to put a lot of trust in your players. There's a lot of moving parts. You gotta have poise. You have to not just trust the call, but trust the players too."

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