It’s the play that just keeps giving back. The University of Pittsburgh borrowed the old “Philly Special” to pull off a shocking upset win Saturday over the University of Central Florida.
The Panthers (2-2) were trailing 34-28 and looking at a 4th-and-2 from the UCF 3-yard line when they turned to the magical trick play that helped the Philadelphia Eagles secure their first-ever Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh running back Vincent Davis took the snap from center (the Corey Clement role) and pitched it to receiver Aaron Mathews (the Trey Burton role) who chucked a perfect dime to quarterback Kenny Pickett (the Nick Foles role) for the score. The well-executed play gave the Panthers a 35-34 lead over No. 15 UCF that they wouldn’t relinquish. Game over. Shocking upset secured.
Soon, players from around the NFL and college football began posting videos and drawing the obvious parallel to the Super Bowl play. Eagles cornerback and Pitt alum Avonte Maddox was among the first to hype it up on Twitter, along with fellow Pitt alums LeSean McCoy and James Conner.
Former Eagles linebacker and current ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho posted it and said: “Eagles had the best Philly Special of all time.”
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‘Philly Special’ Named No. 10 on NFL’s Best Plays
The ‘Philly Special’ was in the news a lot this week after the NFL Network named it No. 10 on their list of the league’s all-time best plays. Ten? Seems a little low on the totem pole, no?
Anyway, the amazing trick play conceived by Doug Pederson and called for by Nick Foles in the Super Bowl has been copied a few times since that fateful February day. The Eagles coach recalled how the decision to use it in the biggest game of his life came to be.
“Any time I get a chance to catch it on TV, I still get nervous when I watch the game itself, but when it gets to that play the hair stands up on the back of my neck and I get so nervous,” Pederson told NFL Network. “I had a play called, wasn’t really sure in my gut if it was the right play, and the clock was running down and I ran down the sideline and I called a timeout.
“I think everybody except the Philadelphia Eagles thought we were going to kick the field goal. Nick came over to the sideline and he whispered to me, ‘You want Philly, Philly?’ and a lot of things, like my career flashed before my eyes, the Super Bowl flashed before my eyes, and I thought, ‘OK this is great, let’s do this.'”
What Ranked Ahead of Doug Pederson’s Trick Play?
NFL Network had the unenviable task of picking the 100 Greatest Plays in NFL History. It must have been a heated conference room with some sweaty writers and analysts to concoct this debate. While the ‘Philly Special’ being No. 10 might have angered the Philly faithful, the ones above it were pretty deserving.
The top five plays included: Malcolm Butler’s interception in Super Bowl XLIX, “The Music City Miracle” that propelled the Titans to a playoff win, David Tyree’s helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII, Joe Montana to Dwight Clark for “The Catch” that established the 49ers dynasty.
And earning the top honors was “The Immaculate Reception” that gave the Steelers a controversial win over the Raiders. NFL.com’s Grant Gordon described it:
Two days ahead of Christmas in 1972 in an AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium, somehow Terry Bradshaw escaped a mighty pass rush and let fly a laser of a pass. Somehow, John “Frenchy” Fuqua survived a savage hit from Raiders safety Jack Tatum that sent the pass pinballing away. And somehow, Harris caught the deflection in mid-air during a full sprint, never slowing until he reached the end zone.