Maclin’s grab required an equally particular throw from Eagles QB Nick Foles.
‘Tis the season for Top 10 football lists, but over at FBF, they aspired to offer something more profound than the typical top rankings debate.
The dazzling result might steal the limelight, yet there typically exists an underlying catalyst, the unseen force propelling the extraordinary to unfold—the cause behind the effect.
They embarked on a journey to unveil the Top 10 plays from the previous season, primarily focusing on the intricate details that contributed to creating memorable highlights.
Enjoy the spectacle!
One might have the misconception that the one-handed catch was solely the invention of Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham.
However, it’s essential to note that others have executed awe-inspiring feats in securing a football with just a single appendage.
In 2014, one of the most exceptional catches that didn’t involve Beckham occurred when Eagles (now with the Chiefs) wide receiver Jeremy Maclin delivered a clutch performance on the road against the 49ers.
As often with these “wow” catches, their true brilliance becomes even more evident when viewed in slow motion.
What sets Maclin’s catch apart, similar to the Beckham catch, is that he’s not grasping the ball at its leading tip, which would render a one-handed catch relatively routine.
In this instance, Maclin somehow manages to secure the ball with his fingers, making contact only with the side of the ball.
Nonetheless, as is customary with the entirety of this “Inside the Top Plays” series, there’s another aspect of the play that shines brilliantly and deserves just as much recognition…
Throughout this Top 10 list, the often-overlooked elements of the highlighted plays usually involve a block, a decision, an effort, or a disguise. This supporting act tends to go unnoticed.
This might be a first on FBF and perhaps a last, but the unheralded component of Jeremy Maclin’s remarkable catch is, surprisingly, the throw made by quarterback Nick Foles.
Yes, you read that correctly, “unheralded” and “quarterback” in the same sentence. Hopefully, the column doesn’t spontaneously combust at this revelation…
In all seriousness, taking into account the game’s circumstances and the minuscule window that Foles had to target to execute this play, this throw may qualify as one of the sneakily finest passes ever witnessed.
Let’s delve into the video (below) to gain a deeper appreciation of just how exceptional this throw was.
The first noteworthy aspect is the 49ers’ defensive alignment with a 2-deep safety look.
This is significant because the safety’s initial positioning is already skewed towards the deep outside throw, the precise destination of the impending pass.
To thread the needle with this 7-route (or corner/flag route), the room for error against the 2-deep defensive scheme is exceptionally narrow. It’s typically not a recommended route choice, given the safety’s head start from a more central field alignment.
Moreover, the cornerback has dropped off the decoy short-out route while the linebacker has retreated to a suitable depth.
Consequently, the 49ers have effectively established a defensive triangle around any potential Maclin route.
There exists only one conceivable location where this pass could be completed—deep and to the outside—and that window is scarcely more significant than the ball itself.
What further deepens the appreciation for this throw is that it was released before Jeremy Maclin executed his inside juke and route break toward the corner.
The level of trust, timing, and precision in this throw is nothing short of impeccable. It’s a testament to the countless hours the quarterback and receiver must have invested practicing these throws repeatedly.
Highlight plays like this don’t materialize without the dedication behind the scenes.
A mere foot’s difference in the throw’s trajectory in any direction would necessitate a slight adjustment by the receiver, potentially putting him perilously close to one of the three surrounding defenders, almost guaranteeing a collision on the ball or, worse yet, rendering it out of Maclin’s reach.
As spectacular as Jeremy Maclin’s catch was, Nick Foles’ throw was equally deserving of praise.
It’s a striking reminder of how quarterbacks can sometimes be the unsung heroes of a play. Who would have expected that?