Sunday's Football Games Gave Us Three Instances Of This Legendary Trick Play — And All Were Successful
The spirit of backyard football was alive and well during the NFL’s championship games.
There’s little question that NFL games differ a great deal from the backyard games many played as kids and even today’s video games. For decades, the league has valued conservatism over risk-taking, which means the famed trick plays that endeared many to the sport as children — end-arounds, halfback pass options, and the crown jewel, the fumblerooski — rarely make appearances in today’s games, not least of all playoff games.
Well, it would seem from Sunday’s AFC and NFC Championship contests that everything old is new again as the flea-flicker made three appearances in two games to the delight of fans. An antique of a play in which the quarterback gives the ball to the running back, tricking the defense to converge on the run, only to have the running back pitch the ball back to the quarterback, who ostensibly will find an open receiver amid the defense’s confusion.
Sound complicated? It’s really not … unless you’re trying to defend against it.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, quarterbacked by Blake Bortles, started off Sunday’s trend, executing the play with modestly successful results.
It's a @Jaguars FLEA FLICKER. And it works! #JAXvsNE #NFLPlayoffs https://t.co/OopVrHNGHQ— NFL (@NFL)1516572637.0
Finally, the late game got in on the trick play action with the Eagles trying their hand at the fabled play, connecting down the field with a touchdown.
The Patriots, led by Tom Brady and his injured hand, saw and raised the play with a bigger gain just minutes later.
Oh heyyyyy @Dorsett_4! FLEA FLICKER! https://t.co/HCxmyJ0lJT— New England Patriots (@New England Patriots)1516574348.0
After the Pats came from behind to beat the Jaguars, the Eagles got in on the trick play action, with QB Nick Foles finding receiver Torrey Smith using the same play, connecting for a 41-yard touchdown during the team’s rout of the Vikings.
In all likelihood, the confluence of three of the same trick play in one day of playoff football was mere coincidence. But given that the plays all ended in varying degrees of success for the teams orchestrating them, don’t be surprised if you see more teams adopting this play next season, if not in two weeks for the Super Bowl. A well-executed flea flicker will always give fans something to cheer about — as long as your team isn’t the one being exploited by the sneaky move.