Super Bowl LII game-winner exposes a flaw in Patriot Way

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In the aftermath of Super Bowl LII, the play known as “Philly Special” received most of the attention. And rightfully so. The gadget play used on fourth and goal made Nick Foles the first quarterback in league history to catch a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl.

But Wristband 145 a/k/a Gun trey left, open buster star motion 383 X follow Y slant has much greater meaning to the outcome of the game.

Peter King of SI.com breaks down the play that would become the game-winning touchdown for the Eagles, with the help of Eagles coach Doug Pederson, former Eagles offensive coordinator (now Colts coach) Frank Reich, and Eagles receivers coach Mike Groh. The design and execution of the play demonstrates the kind of creativity and variety that is needed in order to counter New England’s ultra-thorough knowledge of everything that a team has done, and that in turn may do.

One of the keys to the play was the “star motion,” a Jet Sweep-style of pre-snap running back away from primary receiver Zach Ertz. The Eagles had used the device only 12 times in more than 1,200 total snaps over the course of the season. As explained by King, the safety who was supposed to be double-teaming Ertz ended up reacting to the star motion, giving Ertz single coverage, alone on the side of the field opposite bunch formation.

Contrast this with Super Bowl XLIX, when the Patriots knew the Seahawks’ tendencies so thoroughly that they practiced defending in a goal-line setting the pass play that Seattle used with a Lombardi Trophy on the line. Three years later, the Eagles had cooked up something that the Patriots had never before seen from Philly, and it helped the Eagles take the lead for good in the biggest game of the year.

The message to any team facing the Patriots is clear. They’re going to know what you’ve done, so you need to know what you’ve done even better — and to come up with something that the Patriots have never seen.

64 responses to “Super Bowl LII game-winner exposes a flaw in Patriot Way

  1. Every team has flaws in their “way.” At the start and end of every day, the secret to defeating the Patriots is to execute and Coach better than the Patriots on any given Sunday, Monday, Thursday, or whenever the game is played. The Eagles did that on Super Bowl Sunday.

    Have I now let the cat out of the bag with that inside information?

  2. They were out coached, by a 2nd year coach and outplayed by a back up qb that we’re not intimidated.

  3. I told everyone..Patriots were that very good this season. Look at their schedule, look who they had to play in the playoffs. Titans? Jaguars? really? They beat 2 teams that were no better than the 2017 Raiders! No not the 2016 Raiders (which would beat Pats by 40) the 2017 team that only won 4 games!
    Pats should be happy that got to play the Eagles who I think never even make it if it wasn;t for that fluke Vikings play against the Saints…
    If Saints made it to the SB I would bet 1k that Saints beat PATS BY 30 POINTS..
    Pats could HARDLY beat the BUCS this season. They lost to every AVERAGE team this season…..Brady threw for 500 yards because EAGLES let him..They knew Pats defense was that bad.

  4. “They’re going to know what you’ve done…”

    So wouldn’t it just be easier do something you haven’t done?

  5. Wow…. took a second year head coach to figure out what the NFL hasn’t been able to do ( without much success, except NYG)for the last 17 years?????

    Wow

  6. The Seahawks and Falcons handed the Deflatriots two of their Super Bowl wins. If not for extremely poor coaching the Pats Super Bowl win loss record would look VERY different

  7. I’ve been saying this for years. You need to come into a game with a special New England game plan that doesn’t use much of anything that you have on tape because Belichick will have it down and will have drilled his team on defending it. Teams that don’t heed this advice will lose to them. The coaches with the “we’re going to do what we do” spiel never beat him.

  8. That’s ok…New England aren’t the ones benching a Superbowl MVP…

    The Patriots had been very successful with Drew Bledsoe at QB…so successful they gave him a record deal…that same year Bledsoe got hurt and ended up losing his job to a rookie…also that same year Bledsoe had to finish and win a playoff game against the Steelers in which Brady got hurt and couldn’t continue…the rest of the story is history…

    Does anyone believe Belichek couldn’t have won with Bledsoe??? Did the Patriots mess up a good thing with Brady, by forcing Bledsoe back into the lineup because of his contract??? No… because when you’re winning, why make a change??? Philly thinks they’ll be the exception to common sense…lolol

  9. What about the rest of the game the eagles dismantled the patriots defense. I’m sure the patriots defense has seen that before. The reality was the pats defense isn’t very good.

  10. jimnaizeeum says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:01 am
    They were out coached, by a 2nd year coach and outplayed by a back up qb that we’re not intimidated.

    12 20 Rate This

    —————————-

    I don’t think creative playcalling or an aggressive approach with consistent player execution over 4 qtrs, had anything to do with “coaching”.

    Players make the plays.

    It was a high scoring shootout where one team won. Happens all the time. Has little to do with coaching.

    if the Pats hadn’t lost so many Pro Bowl players it clearly would have likely gone in the other direction.

    Losing your best defensive and offensive player, is never a good thing if you want to win a SB.

    Pats gave it a valiant effort, but it wasn’t enough. Nothing more, nothing less.

  11. The Patriots study / rehearse / practice tendencies so well that the dullards call it cheating. Funny stuff.

  12. The Patriots know what you are going to do because they RECORD TEAM PRACTICES. I am just thankful that I don’t have to call myself a fan of a team that is accompanied for eternity with an asterisk.

  13. I’ve been touting Philly’s play design all year. They do a great job stretching the D vertically and horizontally and put defensive players in no-win situations.

  14. spartanlegend says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:06 am
    ….If not for extremely poor coaching the Pats Super Bowl win loss record would look VERY different
    ————————————————————-

    You have a point. If not for the Coaching mistakes that Parcells made against the Packers, and the coaching mistakes that Belichick made against the Giants and Eagles, the Patriots would have a 9-1 record in Super Bowls instead of 5-5.

    We do have to admit that the Pats never had a chance against the Bears. That is the only team that has a legitimate victory over the Pats in a Super Bowl.
    [/sarcasm]

  15. rideforjesus says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:05 am
    Wow…. took a second year head coach to figure out what the NFL hasn’t been able to do ( without much success, except NYG)for the last 17 years?????

    Wow

    You act like the Patriots are God’s gift to football. They aren’t. Yes they have 5 rings. They also lost 3, and could have lost any of the others as well. In ranking them in terms of all SB winners, some of the least dominant teams in SB history. While Bears were destroying them 46-10, or the Niners against Denver by 40+ points, the Pats have never won – or lost – a SB by more than 4 points (except last year which is the product of OT rules). They tend to have the easiest path to the SB year in and year out (this year especially, because their team wasn’t very good). Rings don’t always say who is the best team in the league. Sometimes the best teams never get to play.

  16. The Eagles won the game and rightfully so . They outplayed the Patriots period. Your claim to “expose” the “PATRIOTS WAY” is nothing more then media driven foolishness during a period when football is over and there’s nothing more to talk about.

  17. The Eagles stayed aggressive, which was a key to their victory. Of course having surprise plays is helpful. I feel like the Patriots always do just well enough on defense every year to be successful, but they’re never dominant. They don’t usually have big name, high dollar talent, and they don’t sign expensive free agents. So they rely on their system.

    Sometimes that system is good enough, sometimes it isn’t. As others have said, this is true of every team. More importantly, the Eagles didn’t try to force Foles to do things he wasn’t capable of, and he handled it very well (after squeaking by in his first few starts) – and, in fact, really came into his own in the Championship game and SB. He executed those gameplans to a very high level.

    It just goes to show what’s possible if a team is patient with a QB and caters their system to his strengths and abilities rather than acting as though a backup is a carbon copy of the starter. The NFL chews up and spits out QBs far too quickly – this is a failure of the organizations as a whole, not the individuals at the QB position.

    Foles is a perfect example of what can be done with someone who’d been written off by most years ago. Can he be a successful starter over time? It all depends on how a team tries to use him.

  18. Call that a key play. Also the 4th and 1 from the Philly 45 with 5 min to go in the 4th. Also the Brady sack fumble.

    Those are the 3 key plays of the game.

    That said… the game could have changed on many other plays. Patriots allowed 2 other 3rd down conversions on the drive after they took the lead. The Patriots decided to kick a 3 (and they missed) as opposed to going for it on 4th down. The Patriots had the Brady drop and another try on 4th down that they missed. Heck, the Patriots were held to 3 on their first drive and didn’t go for it, which could have been an early bad decision, not yet knowing how badly their defense would struggle.

    The Patriots really didn’t make the plays to win.

  19. Alternatively from my other post… if you do focus on this play as the key play of the game, then the Patriots lost 4 points on unforced kicking errors and gave up 4 points on that play which is 8 points and was the winning margin.

  20. terripet says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:30 am
    This will be the cheaters last super bowl for many years to come. It’s ove

    It’s not “ove” yet for 2 reasons:

    1. Your abominable prediction track record (of course), and
    2. The Patriots are still the team to beat every year until further notice. The expert predictors of things (your kryptonite) have them as Super Bowl favorites….yet again.

    Your pain shall continue until the Frank Reich Dynasty is in full dominant swing for the next 20 years.

  21. cabosan1978 says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:29 am
    The Patriots know what you are going to do because they RECORD TEAM PRACTICES. I am just thankful that I don’t have to call myself a fan of a team that is accompanied for eternity with an asterisk.

    ————

    Never happened, no asterisks, never will be, 5 Super Bowl wins. Still going strong.

  22. steelcurtainn says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:21 am
    What about the rest of the game the eagles dismantled the patriots defense. I’m sure the patriots defense has seen that before. The reality was the pats defense isn’t very good.

    ———-

    The Patriots defense was terrible. No argument there. They still were good enough to win the AFC, but Brady and a decent run game covered up a lot of the defensive blemishes.

  23. cabosan1978
    1h ago
    The Patriots know what you are going to do because they RECORD TEAM PRACTICES. I am just thankful that I don’t have to call myself a fan of a team that is accompanied for eternity with an asterisk

    (insert LOUD sigh here…)

    Other than the fact that they never recorded any teams practices or the fact that there are no asterisks on anything–you are correct.

    They generally are more prepared than other teams because…they are required by Belichick to prepare better than most other teams. Sorry, but that’s it. It’s been well-covered.

  24. Also, did anyone notice that Philly ran basically the Carolina game plan from week 3? Go look and tell me I’m wrong. It was a lot of the same play design, but it wasn’t much of what Philly had been doing all year, which is why Belichick couldn’t zero in on it and shut it down.

  25. jimnaizeeum says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:01 am
    They were out coached, by a 2nd year coach and outplayed by a back up qb that we’re not intimidated.

    ————-

    True. I think the difference in the game was that the Eagles played to win, and pretty much executed on every key play. Only exceptions were the 2 point conversions. Most teams play not to lose. Particularly they settle for 3s and punt too often. Think about it… if the Eagles had chosen to punt on 4th and 1 from their own 45, while the Patriots had a 1 point lead, what would the outcome of the game have been? 5 min left, Brady would have the lead and the ball. The Eagles could have made a play, but you would have liked Brady’s chances.

    While it sucks to lose as a Patriots fan, you have to admire that.

  26. As a fan of a non-playoff team that watched most of the playoff games I have to say I came away very impressed with the Eagles and especially the Patriots. It seemed like the Jags and definitely the Eagles had better talent across the board. The whole underdog crap was mostly from Vegas, the media and the eagles themselves. This pats team is a well coached team but it is not top heavy in talent outside of Gronk and Brady. The fact the Pats basically were a play away from beating the more talented and hungrier Eagles is amazing.

    I’m jealous of both teams and how they adjust their schemes to maximize their players performance. How is so much of the NFL still stuck in the force “what we do” mindset.

  27. spartanlegend says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:06 am
    The Seahawks and Falcons handed the Deflatriots two of their Super Bowl wins. If not for extremely poor coaching the Pats Super Bowl win loss record would look VERY different

    —————

    You can’t analyze games that way. Since the salary cap era really got going the AFC and NFC match up in the Super Bowl is has often been the hardest game for each of those teams on the season. The games can go either way and often come down to a play or two.

    Brady had the lead in this game in the 4th again, just like his other 2 losses. You can easily say that the Patriots were 3 defensive stops away from 8 Super Bowl wins. But they lost those games. Just like they beat Seattle and Atlanta.

    Look at the Patriots win over the Steelers this year. They drove it down and scored, looked like they had it won, then gave up the worst defensive play of the season. Survived a controversial call and then got an interception in the endzone. As a result, the Steelers weren’t right and ended up playing Jax and lost.

    Against great teams it comes down to a play or two. That’s it. “what ifs” don’t matter. jut the final score.

  28. I guess the eagles defense got exposed, without cooks and edleman.This is a copycat league, if the Rpo works teams will use it.They won,quit acting like they have been in the playoffs every year for almost this whole century.

  29. bullcharger says:
    February 12, 2018 at 10:37 am

    steelcurtainn says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:21 am
    What about the rest of the game the eagles dismantled the patriots defense. I’m sure the patriots defense has seen that before. The reality was the pats defense isn’t very good.

    ———-

    The Patriots defense was terrible. No argument there. They still were good enough to win the AFC, but Brady and a decent run game covered up a lot of the defensive blemishes.

    ==========================================
    More accurately, the AFC (and especially the AFC Least) was bad enough to let a very flawed team like the 2017 Patriots be the Super Bowl representative.

    The AFC was atrocious this year… And the AFC Least has been that way for a lot longer than that.

  30. bullcharger says:
    February 12, 2018 at 10:34 am

    cabosan1978 says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:29 am
    The Patriots know what you are going to do because they RECORD TEAM PRACTICES. I am just thankful that I don’t have to call myself a fan of a team that is accompanied for eternity with an asterisk.

    ————

    Never happened, no asterisks, never will be, 5 Super Bowl wins. Still going strong.

    ============================
    Not saying you in particular but it really is amazing to me that Pat fan still responds to these kinds of posts right on cue. Especially since it’s obvious these posts are only there to bait you guys and that’s it.

    And yet you take the bait every time because you guys can’t help yourselves. So strange how insecure you guys are despite being fans of a 5 time Super Bowl winning team in the 2000’s.

  31. steelcurtainn says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:21 am
    What about the rest of the game the eagles dismantled the patriots defense. I’m sure the patriots defense has seen that before. The reality was the pats defense isn’t very good.

    ———-

    The Patriots also dismantled the Eagles defense until Brady’s fumble. That was the difference in the game. Nick Foles made plays when he needed to and Brady couldn’t at the most critical time of the game.

  32. a “flaw in the system”? that’s right up there with “blueprint” to defeat tom brady” creativity on offense and a great front four on defense pretty much work against any team and qb. there’s no mystery here; eagles had more talent, we’ll coached and executed under pressure. they are champs. i’m betting the pats are back in the playoffs next year like always and we’ll see how long eagles can sustain excellence.

  33. The Patriots division, known as the AFC Least, has not been worthy of the name of the “AFC East” since Drew Bledsoe was Patriots quarterback. We will find out how good Brady and especially Belichick really are once the division is good enough to drop the L in their name and I actually think that could happen soon.

    Let’s see what happens when the Patriots have to play and plan for at least one GOOD QB and a GOOD head coach in that division twice a year instead of the dreck that you get to squash every year.

  34. Pedersen was like we are going to be totally different than most of the NFL against the Patriots. We aren’t going to be predictable, and we are going to play to lose.

  35. Braz says:
    February 12, 2018 at 11:02 am
    bullcharger says:
    February 12, 2018 at 10:37 am
    steelcurtainn says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:21 am
    What about the rest of the game the eagles dismantled the patriots defense. I’m sure the patriots defense has seen that before. The reality was the pats defense isn’t very good.
    ———-
    The Patriots defense was terrible. No argument there. They still were good enough to win the AFC, but Brady and a decent run game covered up a lot of the defensive blemishes.
    ==========================================
    More accurately, the AFC (and especially the AFC Least) was bad enough to let a very flawed team like the 2017 Patriots be the Super Bowl representative.
    The AFC was atrocious this year… And the AFC Least has been that way for a lot longer than that.

    ————–

    Huh? Is that why the great Philly defense gave up 613 yards to the Patriots and the Patriots had the lead in the 4th? I would say they were pretty evenly matched.

    There are more good teams in the NFC at the moment… I will give you that. However, the best teams in the AFC are as good as the best teams in the NFC.

    As for the AFC East… the Bills made the playoffs and they lost to the Patriots twice. They had to get there wins from some other teams. 2-2 vs NFC also.

    Not so bad.

    Lets not forget that the AFC has won 4 of the last 6 Super Bowls also.

  36. If that’s their game winner, then they should have lost since they got away with illegal formation on that special play.

  37. jimnaizeeum says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:01 am
    They were out coached, by a 2nd year coach and outplayed by a back up qb that we’re not intimidated.

    Eagle fans think the spread ended up 8 touchdowns instead of points. BOTH teams were either winning or losing that game to within 3 minutes of the end. The Eagles did and deserve to be congratulated. Out coached would have been a bigger spread.

    spartanlegend says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:06 am
    The Seahawks and Falcons handed the Deflatriots two of their Super Bowl wins. If not for extremely poor coaching the Pats Super Bowl win loss record would look VERY different

    Will you now take the same reasoning for the Pats handing the Eagles their Super Bowl win and their win loss record would look a lot different.

  38. If the Pats OL ever got called for holding, Eagles would have blown them out. How else do you think the pats scrub OL was able to block all the eagle pass rushers nearly all game?

    Fact- in the last 5 years of playoffs and Super Bowls, the pats OL has been called for holding only TWICE. That’s a joke.

  39. “it helped the Eagles take the lead for good in the biggest game of the year.”

    They didn’t take the lead for good with the trick play. Obviously, it was a huge play in the game, but the Patriots took the lead in the 4th quarter.

  40. So what you are saying is, if you run a play that a team hasn’t seen before, there is a better chance of it working than a play a team has scouted and watched over and over again? This is earth shattering. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before. The eagles have reinvented football.

    Belicheck benching malcom butler changed this game, period. Why? no one will ever know. This has that Cris cartere all he does is catch touchdowns feel to it. Anyway! They told rowe he was starting before the national anthem. I’m going to say that no one in that position would have been ready to play that game and rowe looked like a deer in the headlights.

  41. Patriots are headed for the AFC basement. The year after they lose a Superbowl, they dive down further. If they are lucky, they’ll get blown out of the AFC championship next year. But I think this team’s luck has run out. The Jets, Bills, and Dolphins are sick of them cheating and will probably use the Eagle Bowl as a template for delivering six good old fashion clown stompins next season.

  42. GO FOR TWO SPORTS says:

    February 12, 2018 at 9:05 am

    I told everyone..Patriots were that very good this season. Look at their schedule, look who they had to play in the playoffs. Titans? Jaguars? really? They beat 2 teams that were no better than the 2017 Raiders! No not the 2016 Raiders (which would beat Pats by 40) the 2017 team that only won 4 games!
    Pats should be happy that got to play the Eagles who I think never even make it if it wasn;t for that fluke Vikings play against the Saints…
    If Saints made it to the SB I would bet 1k that Saints beat PATS BY 30 POINTS..
    Pats could HARDLY beat the BUCS this season. They lost to every AVERAGE team this season…..Brady threw for 500 yards because EAGLES let him..They knew Pats defense was that bad

    =========================================

    Yikes, this hot take is still frozen in the middle. “lost to every average team this season”…not sure what that means, they went 13-3.

    2016 Raiders would have beat the Pats by 40? Oakland’s defense was terrible in 2016, they were 26th in yards allowed.

    And the Eagles “let” Brady throw for 500yds? You do realize that the Pats had the lead in the 4th quarter right? All part of the strategy?

  43. randomcommenter says:

    February 12, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    If the Pats OL ever got called for holding, Eagles would have blown them out. How else do you think the pats scrub OL was able to block all the eagle pass rushers nearly all game?

    Fact- in the last 5 years of playoffs and Super Bowls, the pats OL has been called for holding only TWICE. That’s a joke.

    ==================================

    I’d trade 20 Pats holding calls if the refs called any of the 5 holding penalties on the Helmet Catch play.

  44. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:

    February 12, 2018 at 11:08 am

    steelcurtainn says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:21 am
    What about the rest of the game the eagles dismantled the patriots defense. I’m sure the patriots defense has seen that before. The reality was the pats defense isn’t very good.

    ———-

    The Patriots also dismantled the Eagles defense until Brady’s fumble. That was the difference in the game. Nick Foles made plays when he needed to and Brady couldn’t at the most critical time of the game.

    ==========================

    Uh, or the offensive line allowed the pocket to collapse? And the Pats D was awful? Brady had a harder job against a more talented defense, GOAT performance wasted by the defense. But he’s a system QB, right?

  45. Braz says:

    February 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

    bullcharger says:
    February 12, 2018 at 10:37 am

    steelcurtainn says:
    February 12, 2018 at 9:21 am
    What about the rest of the game the eagles dismantled the patriots defense. I’m sure the patriots defense has seen that before. The reality was the pats defense isn’t very good.

    ———-

    The Patriots defense was terrible. No argument there. They still were good enough to win the AFC, but Brady and a decent run game covered up a lot of the defensive blemishes.

    ==========================================
    More accurately, the AFC (and especially the AFC Least) was bad enough to let a very flawed team like the 2017 Patriots be the Super Bowl representative.

    The AFC was atrocious this year… And the AFC Least has been that way for a lot longer than that.

    ============================

    The NFC sported two back up QB’s in their championship round. That’s worse than what the AFC put out there. And Pats almost always play a first place schedule.

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