No one who viewed it will ever forget The Immaculate Reception that salvaged a seemingly sure playoff loss for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1972 against the Oakland Raiders, or that it was Franco Harris who made the reception and scored.
What you may not recall even if you’ve seen it, is that the QB, Terry Bradshaw, did a marvelous job buying time on the pass, aided by a key block. Or that it was a key block that enabled Harris to get to the sideline along which he danced effectively for the walk-off touchdown.
All momentous finishes have behind-the-scenes components that tend to be overshadowed by one seemingly miraculous feature of the play. Yesterday’s missed Field Goal by ex-Eagle Cody Parkey that knocked the Bears out of the playoffs qualifies as a momentous finish, and it’s unsung hero was Treyvon Hester, a midseason Eagles acquisition who saved the day.
I’m choosing to dub it The Immaculate Proprioception, because it wasn’t apparent during the real-time broadcast that the ball had actually been tipped by Hester. A key feature of the kick was that Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson had called a timeout to “ice” Parkey just before Cody split the uprights with a perfect FG that didn’t count.
But was it really just the kicker’s state of mind that is altered during these icing timeouts? Unlike the parallel ploy of basketball coaches calling a timeout to ice a shooter at the foul line, football FGs are a bit different in that the opposing team can do actively something to alter the kick. So is it possible that Hester saw a gap as the first kick went through that allowed him to change his strategy for how or where he jumped to tip the ill-fated final kick?
Lest we forget, Al Michaels, that there were at least two other elements of the Eagles’ thrilling victory that brought the game down to that last play. One was the stellar defense that thwarted a two point conversion after the Bears scored a TD with 9:04 left in the quarter to go up 15-10. The other is the TD pass from Foles to Tate that came late on a 4th and goal with less than a minute to play, setting the stage for Hester’s Immaculate Proprioception.