There was apparently an even more controversial call in Super Bowl LII. Former vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, who does fine work as the rules analyst on Fox, told the Talk of Fame Network that the Eagles’ famous “Philly Special” trick play on fourth down should not have counted. There should have been a penalty for illegal formation, he said. You must have a minimum of seven men on the line of scrimmage, and the Eagles appeared to have six.
“I know the league came out and said that it’s a judgment call, which it is.” Pereira told 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 he (receiver Alshon Jeffrey) 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. 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.”
It’s clear from the broadcast what Pereira is talking about. Jeffery is to the right of the formation, at the top of the screen:
One side note: Can you imagine if Jeffery ruined one of the great plays in Super Bowl history by lining up wrong? That didn’t happen, as the officials basically let it slide (enough with your Patriots officiating conspiracy theories, OK?).
It’s not like the Patriots get a do-over or anything, so what’s done is done. Jeffery or his alignment didn’t factor into the play at all, so it’s fairly trivial anyway. It just adds another wrinkle to one of the best Super Bowl plays and one of the best Super Bowls ever, and it adds a bit to the Patriots’ offseason angst too.
– – – – – – –