One of the controversies to arise from the Super Bowl had to do with whether or not the Philadelphia Eagles were lined up in illegal formation on the “Philly Special” trick play that resulted in a touchdown pass to Nick Foles. And one former official thinks they were in illegal formation.
NFL rules expert Mike Pereira, who serves as a TV analyst for FOX, said in an interview with Talk of Fame Network that the Eagles were lined up illegally.
On the play, Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery was seen lined up about two yards behind the line of scrimmage. NFL rules require offenses to have seven players on the line of scrimmage for all plays, and Jeffery was considered one of their seven.
The fourth down trick play TS to Nick Foles was an illegal formation, should have been called back…extended WR to the top of the screen is off the ball (needs to be on the line with just the OT on inside him). #SB52 #Eagles #Patriots pic.twitter.com/tdX7hIpiGu
— Matt Chatham (@chatham58) February 5, 2018
“I know the league came out and said that it’s a judgment call, which it is,” Pereira said, via Clark Judge of the Talk of Fame Network. “The down judge, who was the one that [the play] was on his side of the field, they felt that it was his judgment, and [receiver Alshon Jeffery] was close enough. Well, he wasn’t. They lined up wrong.
“Not only that, it’s a trick play. And if you’re going to run a trick-type play, then you have to be lined up properly. You could either have six men on the line, or you could have an ineligible number lined up at the end of the line, which was the case. I know what the league has said, but they would have been a lot more comfortable if they would have called an illegal formation.
“We always use a yard [within the line of scrimmage], maybe a yard-and-a-half. But that’s two [yards], and even a little bit beyond two. It’s kind of one of those that has no effect on the play. I get it. But they didn’t line up properly. And it really should’ve been called.”
Jeffery likely received clearance from the official nearby him and signaled with him to indicate he was on the line of scrimmage for the play, which is probably why no penalty was called. And since Foles was lined up in the backfield, the Patriots would have known he was an eligible receiver. Where Jeffery lined up didn’t seem to materially affect the play, though this controversy is something Pats fans can complain about.
None of this takes away how cool of a play it was and that Foles’ high school runs the exact same play.