By Rickey Hampton, Editor and Founder of TheAfricanAmericanAthlete.com
Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles was the obvious choice for MVP following his superb performance that helped lead his team to a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
However, the true MVP was Eagles’ second-year coach Doug Pederson. His bold and decisive play-calling is what put Foles in the position to make those game winning plays.
Pederson out-coached Bill Belichick, arguably the greatest coach in the history of the game. Quite simply, Pederson was not afraid to fail.
His aggressive, even courageous, decision-making put his team in position to win. Rarely are coaches willing to put their asses on the line the way Pederson did.
“My mentality coming into the game was to stay aggressive until the end and let [the] playmakers make plays,” Pederson told reporters. “I trust my instincts. In games like this against a great opponent, you have to make those tough decisions and keep yourself aggressive.”
Two critical plays made the difference.
The first play was a 4th and 1 call with 37 seconds in the second quarter. I would dare say most coaches would have taken the sure field goal. It would have definitely been the prudent choice.
However, Pederson knew that it was going to take touchdowns to beat the Patriots.
A trick play that began with a direct snap to a running back, who pitched it to his wide receiver, ended up with an easy touchdown pass to Foles.
There wasn’t a Patriot within 10-yards of Foles. A trick-play on fourth down at the 1-yard line? In the Super Bowl? Who does that? Not very many coaches, I can tell you that.
If that play had failed, Pederson would never have lived it down.
The next play came in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line. The Eagles trailed 33-32, and they were struggling on defense. Brady was lighting the Eagles defense up on the way to accumulating an astonishing 505-yards passing, easily a Super Bowl record.
The Eagles had the ball, but it was fourth-and-1 from their own 45. There was only 5:39 left in the game, and Pederson was realistic. He figured that if he punted the ball away to Brady, there was a good chance they would never get the ball back.
Pederson went for it. A two-yard pass from Foles to tight end Zack Ertz kept the drive alive. Seven plays later Foles and Ertz hooked up for what would be the game-winning touchdown.
Going for fourth-and-1 from your own 45? In the Super Bowl? C’mon, man!
Those two plays put into perfect summation Pederson’s instinctive, aggressive, philosophy of pushing forward from the first play of the game to the last. And because he was coaching to win, instead of coaching not to lose, the Eagles are world champions.