Jake Elliott said his 59-yard field goal to force overtime Sunday was probably the hardest kick he’s ever made in his NFL career.
It helped get him home.
Because Elliott is in his seventh season with the Eagles and Sunday’s 37-34 overtime win over the Bills was his 59th career game at Lincoln Financial Field. And as special teams coordinator Michael Clay explained Tuesday, there’s a clear advantage to that.
“There are certain switches at Lincoln Financial that will tell you what the wind is doing more than what the flags on the post are doing,” Clay said. “So that’s kind of a home-field advantage. And it was just an opportunity for us to say, ‘Hey, okay, you’ve got a little wind, don’t overcompensate, let it travel where it’s going to go.’
“He did a great job. He understood where he wanted to go. They hit that timeout. He went to the net. He never changed his process of what he was doing no matter if it was 42 yards or 59 yards. So being able to get comfortable in those settings kind of helps What is the stress relief or adrenaline that occurs during that kick.
Of course, Clay refused to reveal those other keys to reading the wind, but there was a lot of thought put into this matter. Elliott said after the game that the 59-yarder was a little out of range as they entered the game feeling comfortable.
But it wasn’t like the Eagles had much of a choice either. When they lined up for a 59-yard drive in the rain, they were facing fourth-and-17 with 20 seconds left. You should at least give Elliott a chance and score for the Eagles.
“The range is usually when Coach (Nick) Sirianni says, ‘Do you think you can get it?’ “We have full confidence that Jake will get it done for the most part,” Clay said.
“Obviously in this situation things are always changing. Special teams is never black and white. It’s always a gray area. You’re always trying to make plays within the game, and 59 yards in those circumstances, there’s not a lot — it’s not like we had the option to do it on fourth down.” Or whatever in this situation.
Elliott is now an impressive 6-for-7 on 50-plus yards this season. Elliott is now 3-for-3 on punts from 59+ in his NFL career.
Clay made sure to point out that it wasn’t all Elliot, either. The play started with a perfect snap from long snapper Rick Lovato and a great catch from punter Braden Mann. It may seem simple but under the circumstances, none of these things were offered.
The offensive line blocked it and then Elliott delivered a low drive line out of the boot that didn’t catch in any of the wind. The end of the court end (the open end) is usually the more difficult of the two.
But Elliott made a lot of kicks in a lot of conditions at the Linc.
“Lincoln Financial, it’s a tough field to play on regardless of whether it’s raining or not,” Clay said. “Lucky for us, I think the wind kind of picked up midway through the third quarter and he kind of felt it in his face on one of those kicks. He was like, ‘Man, that wind’ — it was a northeast wind for most of the game. It flipped over.” We kind of have to. And fortunately for us that helped us get more wind.
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