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  • Christian McCaffrey connected with Chris Manhertz for a first-quarter touchdown to open up scoring against the Saints. What other trick plays have caught our eye this season?
By Kalyn Kahler
December 18, 2018

The Panthers got on the board first Monday night against the Saints with a fun trick play on fourth-and-two. Running back Christian McCaffrey took the handoff from Cam Newton and threw a pass to tight end Chris Manhertz (typically a blocking tight end) who ran to the end zone for a 50-yard touchdown. McCaffrey became the first non-QB in Panthers history to throw a touchdown pass, and the Saints defense was stunned by the unique play call.

New Orleans came back to beat Carolina 12–9, better positioning the Saints to lock up home-field advantage throughout the upcoming playoffs. But in light of the Panthers’ offensive creativity, here are three of our favorite trick plays this season: 

1. Santa's Sleigh 

Matt Nagy has called several touchdown-scoring trick plays in his first year as Bears head coach, but the play the team dubbed, “Santa’s Sleigh” takes the top spot. In Week 14 against the Rams in primetime, Nagy called for the playaction pass, which featured an unconventional cast of characters: quarterback Mitch Trubisky, six offensive lineman, and four defensive lineman. There wasn't a single skill player on the field. Backup offensive lineman Bradley Sowell, and four defensive linemen, Jonathan Bullard, Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols and Roy Robertson-Harris, all reported as eligible receivers for the play. Trubisky took the snap, faked an inside handoff to Hicks and hit Sowell for a smooth two-yard touchdown. As of Sunday morning, Chicago and New Orleans were tied for the league lead in different players to score touchdowns this season (16).

2. Julian Edelman’s Pass

From Brady to Edelman to White! In Week 9 against Green Bay, the Patriots set up first-and-goal with a neat play where Tom Brady threw to receiver Julian Edelman (who was a quarterback in college at Kent State), who threw to running back James White. Edelman lined up wide right, and threw across the formation to White, who was hanging out on the left side of the line of scrimmage after faking a handoff. White ran down the left sideline and set up first and goal for New England. New England should stick with trick plays that don't involve Brady catching a pass. He missed an easy catch in the Super Bowl against Philadelphia, and then made a similar catch this season against Tennessee, only to trip and fall inches short of a first down.

3. Odell Beckham Jr.’s Loooooooong Touchdown Passes

Since Week 5, Giants fans have been joking that Beckham is the team’s best quarterback. In Week at Carolina, the star receiver showed off his arm with a 57-yard touchdown pass to running back Saquon Barkley. Quarterback Eli Manning threw a short pass to Beckham, who had lined up on the left side of the formation, receiver Russell Shepard threw a nice block to allow Beckham time to set his feet and launch a deep throw across the field to Barkley, who was streaking down the right sideline. Beckham got another chance to test his deep ball agains the Bears in Week 13, this time a 49-yard touchdown throw to Shepard, who was waiting wide open in front of the goal line. The most impressive part of this play is that Beckham stutter stepped and didn’t really have his feet set when he threw.

Honorable mention:

The Eagles ran Philly Special 2.0 against the Falcons in Week 1.

Chicago had three players touch the ball before throwing the touchdown pass that sent the game to overtime.

Dolphins WR Albert Wilson hit a wide-open Jakeem Grant for a 52-yard touchdown against the Raiders.

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