Inside Elliott’s 61-yard Walk-Off
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Jake Elliott lobbied for the chance to win the game Sunday afternoon and Doug Pederson offered up the opportunity to the rookie kicker.
Elliott, who joined the Eagles less than two weeks ago due to the injury to veteran Caleb Sturgis, then sent the 70,000 in attendance at t Lincoln Financial Field into a frenzy by blasting a franchise-record 61-yard field goal to ensure a 27-24 walk-off win over the New York Giants.
"Given that situation, I just kind of ran up to the coaches at the end," Elliott said. "I just kind of prayed and asked for a chance there."
Holder Donnie Jones didn't even realize just how long the kick was going to be until he put the ball on the turf.
"Whew, this is a long one," the Eagles veteran punter said.
But, that's the strength of Elliott's skill set, a right leg that offers thunder on a tiny frame and the 22-year-old booted one that just snuck inside the right goal post with a few feet to spare over the crossbar. The Linc erupted and Elliott was treated like the conquering hero, with teammates hoisting him overhead, not difficult to do considering his 5-foot-9, 167-pound frame.
"I just watched him kick a couple kickoffs extremely deep into the end zone, and it was pretty awesome," Pederson said. "Sounded like a cannon off his foot, great snap, great hold, protection was there. Yeah, awesome."
The game-winner was set up by a nifty 19-yard pass from Carson Wentz to Alshon Jeffery in which the receiver was able to sneak out of bounds when two Giants' defenders collided.
“Coach made a great play call that we’ve worked on a lot," Wentz said. "Honestly, they had pretty decent coverage but sometimes with a guy like Alshon, you just have to give him a chance in that type of situation."
From there Pederson had a decision to make, perhaps a Hail Mary or risk Elliott coming up short and letting Odell Beckham Jr. return the kick with offensive linemen all over the field.
The coach believed his special teams guru, Dave Fipp, would have the unit ready for a potential return but more than that has seen Elliott's leg. Maybe the kick would hook or slice but it was going 61 yards.
"I was just glad that they got down there within a range that I was able to hit from," Elliott said.
10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
-Elliott’s field goal is tied for the seventh-longest in NFL history, trailing only Matt Prater (64 yards on 12/8/13 vs. Tennessee), David Akers (63 yards on 9/9/12 at Green Bay), Sebastian Janikowski (63 yards on 9/12/11 at Denver), Jason Elam (63 yards on 10/25/98 vs. Jacksonville), Tom Dempsey (63 yards on 11/8/70 vs. Detroit) and Matt Bryant (62 yards on 10/22/06 vs. Philadelphia). It is also tied for the third-longest walk-off FG in NFL history, behind Dempsey and Bryant.
Elliott’s boot is also the longest ever by an NFL rookie, breaking the record of 60 set by Greg Zuerlein on 9/30/12 vs. Seattle.
-The injuries elsewhere kept Isaac Seumalo active but the struggling second-year guard was benched in favor of Chance Warmack, who didn't exactly excel either, setting the tone for a tough afternoon by Carson Wentz by allowing Jay Bromley to break through for a sack early. Jeff Stoutland then turned to a rotation at the spot with both Warmack and Stefen Wisniewski getting opportunities.
"We wanted to give both of those guys an opportunity today, and it just so happened that Wis ended up taking the bulk of the reps, but we had them both ready," Pederson said.
-Whether you like the explanation or not, Pederson is correct when he says the run-pass ratio is dependent on the personality of the game. The committee approach worked against the Giants with LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and even rookie Corey Clement doing some nice things. The bad news was the wrist injury that knocker Darren Sproles from the game.
“It was really effective," Blount said of the rotation. "Obviously we all know that Wendell can run the ball well. We all know that Wendell can catch the ball well. He is a great all-around back. We know that Corey can run the ball well also. We got a good stable of running backs. We got a lot of guys out here that can do everything they want us to do. We have to continue to do what they want us to do. Make sure we work hard and grind for it every single day of the week and make sure we are prepared to come out and fight.”
Pederson also liked the revitilzed unit.
"I made a commitment early in the week to myself that I wanted to get these guys more involved and wanted to get them all involved," Pederson said. "As you guys know talking during the week, there's a role for everybody, and I just like the way he was running today. [RB] Wendell [Smallwood] ran the ball extremely hard, also. [RB] Corey [Clement] had a great touchdown run there late in the game. It was just -- just kind of the hot hand, and I felt like the bigger back against this front was also a little bit of a change of pace for them, and then bringing in Wendell and Corey later in the game."
-Wentz didn't have his best game from an accuracy standpoint and his footwork seemed to regress to second half of 2016 levels. That's something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
-Zach Ertz had a very costly fumble that led to the Giants deadlocking the game in the fourth quarter. It was very uncharacteristic as London Collins' hit was not exactly an eye-popper.
-The defensive line really lost its spark when Fletcher Cox was forced to leave early with a calf injury. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle was seen leaving the locker room under his own power which is a good sign even though he was limping a bit.
-Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks also left early with an ankle injury and Mychal Kendricks filled in admirably, coming up with a big tip that left to a Patrick Robinson interception.
"Well, Hicks and Cox, we'll find out more tomorrow and I'll be able to update you tomorrow," Pederson said. "But listen, our defense, I can't tell you how well and how proud I am of that group. They hung in there with, as you mentioned, the four defensive starters -- and we lost two big starters again today in this game, and the way these guys stepped up and stepped in and filled in, [CB] Rasul [Douglas] had a big interception, and [CB] Patrick Robinson, another turnover."
-Second-year corner Jalen Mills has gone from seventh-round pick to shadowing Odell Beckham, Jr. all over the field and holding his own. Obviously, OBJ got his and nearly took over the game in the fourth quarter but Mills competed and earned LSU bragging rights in the rivalry for now.
“It means that they trust me," Mills said of checking OBJ. "But at the same time, that also goes with the practice, playing hard, practicing hard, and showing effort all of the time.”
-Chris Maragos played exactly one defensive snap last season but was forced into the base defense due to the hamstring injuries that sidelined Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins. He was steady if unspectacular with the biggest positive being no glaring missed tackles.
-Pederson raised more than a few eyebrows by going for it on a 4th-and-8 in the second quarter which failed and gave the moribund Giants offense life, something overlooked because a 4th-and-1 run from the goal line right before the half was ultimately blown up by the Eagles' defense.
"I discussed with the guy that's helping me upstairs with some of the analytics, and where we were on the field, what we were doing offensively at the time, defense was playing extremely well, had an opportunity to really keep ourselves on the field at that time," Pederson explained. "That's why I elected to go for it at that point. And then obviously we didn't get it, and defense held."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen