Laid-back Elliott is ready for the Big Stage
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - A 23-year-old kid with one of the most high-pressure jobs in sports is the living embodiment of one of advertising's most ensuring slogans.
"Never let them see you sweat," is what the Don Draper of the 1980s came up with for Dry Idea deodorant.
Jake Elliott is a human being and does sweat but what has defined the diminutive kicker during a rookie season in which he seized the job from the injured Caleb Sturgis is just how unflappable he has been.
And if you want to boil down the start of the Eagles' run to Super Bowl LII to one moment it probably has to be Elliott's 61-yard field goal that lifted Philadelphia over the New York Giants 27-24 in Week 3.
Leaking oil and down three safeties due to hamstring injuries the Eagles had let a poor Giants team tie the game late before Elliott squared up and banged through a walk-off 61-yarder.
Since that day the Eagles have played 16 games and only lost just two, and one of those was the meaningless Week 17 affair against Dallas in which Philadelphia wasn't even trying to win.
Earlier this season Eagles coach Doug Pederson called Elliott “cool, calm and collected ... at least on the outside."
If Elliott is the football version of a duck on the local pond, serene up top and working furiously under the surface, he's not revealing his secret.
"I'm a pretty laid-back guy," Elliott said after practice on Thursday.
That doesn't mean Elliott isn't putting in the work, however, something highlighted by his favorite quote: "Success isn't owned. It's rented and the rent is due every day."
You can almost envision how things play out a week from Sunday in Minneapolis against the New England Patriots.
In the Pats' other seven Super Bowl appearances in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era the largest margin at the end of regulation was four points and that means the placekickers could play a large part.
That matchup pits the rookie who has connected on an Eagles franchise record of six field goals from 50 yards-or-more this season versus the Pats' Stephen Gostkowski, one of the top kickers of the generation.
And oh yeah both went to the University of Memphis and Gostkowski happens to be the player Elliott has modeled his game after.
The climate-controlled environment of U.S. Bank Stadium puts the likelihood of some long FG opportunities on the table and the Pats' history in the big game says they may be meaningful
If Elliott is sweating it, though, he's not letting on.
"That’s what I signed up for,” Elliott said when asked about a potential walk-off attempt on the biggest stage. “That’s the job. Pressure is part of it and that's when you need to be at your best.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen