For the second-straight week, the New England Patriots found success by playing around with the NFL’s eligibility rules.
In the third quarter quarter of the AFC title game, 320-pound lineman Nate Solder reported as an eligible receiver but disguised himself in the traditional left tackle position. The Colts didn’t guard him, and Tom Brady found him for a touchdown:
In the divisional round, New England ran a similar play three times. It infuriated Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh, who drew a penalty during the game and called the tactic “clearly deception” in his press conference. But fans of progressive, experimental football loved it.
One of those fans is the guy who’s tasked with stopping the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
At his press conference on Monday, Carroll gushed about the tactic (via the Seattle Times):
“I think it’s great ball. It’s within rules — it’s great ball, they are figuring out a way to get an advantage. The thing they did last week with getting an extra eligible in the game and all that, it’s a good tactic. It’s happened in college a little more, so they must have picked up something that’s coming into the college game. It makes you stay on your toes — I think it’s really good coaching.”
Belichick found an advantage where no one else had ever seen one before. That’s pretty much the definition of good coaching.
Carroll had some tricks of his own on championship weekend. He ran a fake field goal where the punter threw it to a 300-pound lineman:
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