So, there’s a play that everyone’s talking about following the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
You may have seen it? It involved a wide receiver making a big play down the field. I’m talking about J.J. Arcega-Whiteside blocking the heck out of a defensive back down the field on Miles Sanders’ touchdown run, of course!
Okay, just kidding. I’m obviously referring to the scenario where the Steelers reached 3rd-and-8 from the Eagles’ 35-yard line while up two points with 2:59 left in the game. With a stop, Philly could’ve forced a 50ish-yard field goal attempt.
Instead, they gave up a game-winning touchdown with Nathan Gerry lined up over Chase Claypool, who had previously scored three times.
What went wrong? BGN’s own Benjamin Solak put together a video breakdown — watch here:
Looking at the final Chase Claypool touchdown against the Eagles.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) October 12, 2020
The Steelers adjusted the play to attack the Gerry/Claypool matchup
Was the route design really that good?
Someone (Jim Schwartz OR Rodney McLeod) needs to save Gerry here
But Gerry also has to do his job! pic.twitter.com/R4sebVMuZ6
We haven’t heard Jim Schwartz’s perspective on this play yet because he only speaks during his weekly press conferences on Tuesday mornings. In the meantime, here’s what Doug Pederson had to say about this play on Monday afternoon.
Q. That last touchdown by the Steelers where it looked like there was some confusion there and you had a linebacker on the wide receiver.
COACH PEDERSON: At the end of the game, it’s just when Ben [Roethlisberger] — it’s as much a really good call by the Steelers and really, between Ben and [Chase] Claypool, than it was the call on defense. He saw what was going on. He read the coverage, and it was just a one-on-one situation. So you sit here today and we could, 20/20 and hindsight and all that. I thought it was more of a really good recognition by the Steelers and Ben to make that play.
Q. Following up on that Chase Claypool fourth touchdown, you said Ben Roethlisberger recognized the matchup. Why was that the matchup that you guys went with in that situation? (Zach Berman)
COACH PEDERSON: It was the coverage, it was the defense that was called, it was an empty formation. It’s no different when offensively, we go empty, I give Carson the play and then Carson audibles or checks to something, whether it may be a quick slant to Greg Ward or to Miles [Sanders]. He’s understanding the leverage of the defense and the matchup that he likes and so that was the case at the end of the game.
Q. Could you have called timeout when you saw the match-up that you didn’t like and is there anything the defense could have done on that play? Should Nate Gerry have gotten more depth or Rodney McLeod have been helping over top?
COACH PEDERSON: You call a timeout and you burn a timeout in a situation where you’re trying to stop the offense on a third and seven, third and eight situation. Listen, we as coaches have to put our players in situations to be successful, and that falls on me as the head coach and I’ve got to make sure that I do that. I didn’t want to burn a time-out in that situation because I knew that we were going to have to get the ball back, and we could have used those timeouts there. So listen, it’s, again, it’s all about them making a play and recognizing the defense and making a play. I mean, we sit here today and go, okay, yeah, call a different defense. Okay, yeah, do this, do that, and it’s — it is what it is – they made a play —
Q. I’m not questioning the call. I’m wondering how it was defended, the execution. Was the execution the way you would draw it up?
COACH PEDERSON: Well, ultimately it was a touchdown, so obviously we can coach the defense and coach the play a little bit better. The awareness of where we were on the field, the down, the distance, all that kind of stuff we teach during the week. I mean, listen, it’s about awareness, down and distance, could Nate have maybe backed up a touch and tried to keep the play in front of him? Sure. The way the coverage was designed, though, from — listen, it was five wides. It was empty. The safeties had to be wide. Again, it’s great execution by the Steelers. I mean, I don’t know what else to tell you guys. They recognized the defense, attacked and got the touchdown.