GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Nick Sirianni’s fourth-down aggressiveness paid off in a big way for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
Sirianni had his offense go for it twice on fourth down on a single drive late in the first half, leading to a touchdown run by Jalen Hurts that gave the Eagles a 21-14 lead over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Hurts converted the first with a 28-yard run and the Eagles got the second when Derrick Nnadi committed a neutral zone infraction before the snap.
Hurts ran it in from 4 yards on the next play.
Sirianni ranked No. 1 this season in the Football Outsiders’ Critical Call Index as Philadelphia has now converted a league-high 26 fourth-down tries — which doesn’t include the conversion by penalty.
The analytics company has one of the best models for determining when NFL teams should go and when they should kick on fourth downs, using its win probability model that relies on historical play-by-play data adjusted for variables such as the strength and weaknesses of both teams, injuries and other factors.
The first call was particularly bold, coming on fourth-and-5 from the Kansas City 44. No team since at least the 2000 season had attempted a fourth-down try in the first half of a Super Bowl when needing more than a yard.
But Sirianni showed confidence in Hurts, who scampered through a big hole for the longest run ever by a quarterback in the Super Bowl.
The next try was less risky on fourth-and-2 from the Chiefs 8 and the Eagles got the Chiefs to jump offside.
Fourth down conversions proved crucial in the Eagles previous trip to the Super Bowl following the 2017 season. Coach Doug Pederson dialed up the famous “Philly Special” call at the end of the first half that led to a trick play TD pass from Trey Burton to quarterback Nick Foles and a fourth-and-1 conversion in Eagles territory that helped spark the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has typically had a more old-school approach on fourth downs and ranked 28th in Football Outsiders’ Critical Call Index. Reid opted for a field goal in the first quarter on fourth-and-3 from the Eagles 24 in a move that backfired when Harrison Butker missed it from 42 yards.