Tom Brady tried it. Nick Foles perfected it. More quarterbacks are doing it.
Catching passes isn’t just for wide receivers, tight ends and running backs anymore. Coaches aren’t shy about drawing up trick plays that let quarterbacks use their hands for more than throwing a football.
Foles has the most famous catch of all because it came in the Super Bowl in Philadelphia’s 41-33 victory over New England on Feb. 4, 2018.
Foles lined up in the shotgun formation, faked calling an audible on the play and moved up and over to act like he was alerting the offensive linemen of a new play. Running back Corey Clement took the snap instead, rolled to his left and pitched the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who caught it coming off the end, ran a few steps and floated a pass to Foles in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles a 22-12 halftime lead.
The play was called the “Philly Special” and it’ll be remembered as one of the gutsiest calls in sports history.
“Everybody except the Philadelphia Eagles thought I finally came to my senses and was going to kick a field goal in that spot,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson recalled. “It was the right moment, right time, perfect situation.”
Earlier in that game, Brady failed to make an over-the-shoulder catch on a pass from Danny Amendola.
The Eagles didn’t wait long to try it again. Foles caught a pass from wide receiver Nelson Agholor in Week 1 the following season.
Josh Allen was the latest quarterback to do it, making a 16-yard TD reception on a wobbly toss from John Brown that gave Buffalo a 7-0 lead last Saturday in a 22-19 overtime loss at Houston in an AFC wild-card playoff game.
Allen handed the ball to Brown on an end-around, slipped out into the secondary and was wide open down the left sideline despite having to slow down to make the catch. Then he was flipped into the end zone.
The Detroit Lions ran the same play a week earlier in a 23-20 loss to Green Bay to end the regular season. David Blough was wide open to catch a 19-yard TD pass from Amendola.
It doesn’t work every time, however.
The Vikings tried it against Green Bay in Week 16 with a 10-6 lead early in the second quarter. On a third-and-4 from the Packers 42, Kirk Cousins handed off to Dalvin Cook going left on a sweep. Cook pitched it back to Stefon Diggs going right.
Diggs was under some pressure, never set his feet and badly overthrow Cousins, who was open but not fast enough to come close to running it down.
Deshaun Watson caught a 6-yard TD pass from wideout DeAndre Hopkins in a 28-22 win over New England on Dec. 1. But Watson’s came on a forward pitch on an option play.
Taysom Hill had 21 catches, including seven TDs for New Orleans this season. But he was lined up as a wide receiver or tight end on those plays.
Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel were the only other quarterbacks to catch passes in 2019 but their receptions came on tipped balls they threw.
In 2018, Matt Ryan and Ryan Tannehill had TD catches. Ryan made an over-the-shoulder grab on Mohamed Sanu’s throw for a 5-yard TD for Atlanta.
Tannehill was well-covered on a 3-yard TD catch from Kenny Stills but tumbled into the end zone.
Brady bounced back from his drop in the Super Bowl and caught a jump pass from Julian Edelman in November 2018 but tripped and fell before gaining a first down. Brady had a 36-yard catch from Amendola against Philadelphia in December 2015.
All of these plays began in shotgun formation because quarterbacks aren’t eligible to catch passes if they line up under center. Most of the plays involve someone coming around the end and some include a double pitch.
Chicago’s Chase Daniel had an 8-yard catch on a different type of play last season. Daniel threw a backward pass to Anthony Miller lined up wide to his right. Daniel then ran out and caught Miller’s return throw.
Drew Brees once caught a TD pass from LaDainian Tomlinson for the San Diego Chargers. Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, Marcus Mariota and Blake Bortles also have made catches in recent years.
Nothing tops the one Foles made in Super Bowl 52.
“We worked on it for a long time, and we executed it perfectly,” Foles said. “That’s probably the best it looked. So, we hit it at the right time.”
AP Sports Writers Josh Dubow, Teresa Walker, John Wawrow, Dave Campbell, Andrew Seligman, Kristie Rieken, Noah Trister and Brett Martel contributed to this report.
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