Eagles special teams coach Michael Clay still hasn't gotten over Super Bowl disaster
'I'm always going to live with that' — Clay copes with SB LVII disaster originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
It was one of the worst plays in Eagles history and it happened at the worst imaginable moment.
And Michael Clay will never get over it.
“It's just one of those things where you see that play on and you know what's going to happen,” Clay said, “And it runs through your mind when you're laying in bed. It just happens that way.”
It was 28-27 Chiefs with 10 ½ minutes left in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale three months ago.
The Eagles sent Arryn Siposs out to punt from their own 32-yard-line. With a good punt and solid coverage, the Eagles would have the Chiefs backed up inside their own 30-yard-line with a chance to get the ball back to Jalen Hurts and take the lead and maybe win another Super Bowl.
Disaster struck in the form of a weak, low 38-yard punt by Siposs – playing for the first time in two months – and a Super Bowl-record 65-yard return down to the Eagles’ 5-yard-line by Kadarius Toney, who has never returned a punt more than nine yards in a regular-season game. The Chiefs scored three plays later.
Without that one play? Who knows. Quite possibly a different outcome.
Clay, now beginning his third season as the Eagles’ special teams coordinator, spoke publicly about the catastrophic play for the first time on Thursday.
“You kind of face the reality of it, and you live with it,” he said. “I'm always going to live with that. With coaches, you don't remember the good plays, you always remember the bad plays.”
And that was one of the worst.
I wrote in detail back in February about what went wrong on that punt and return but three months later Clay is still dealing with it.
Like a lot of people.
This was the second time in four years Clay has been on the wrong end of a Super Bowl against the Chiefs. He was on Kyle Shanahan’s staff in 2019 when the 49ers lost to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
“I don't think you ever get over Super Bowl losses,” Clay said. “Unfortunately for myself, this is the second times that Patrick Mahomes has gotten me in the fourth quarter.
“It's one of those things where you've got to look at the film. You can't just say, ‘This play never happened.’ It's one of those things where if you could go back and picture the perfect play, you obviously want to change the script, but you can't change what happened three, four months ago, and it's tough, you've got to face the man in the mirror and it all starts with me in terms of we've got to get that guy down regardless of the situation.
“Do we want something better to happen? Absolutely. If something does happen better, does it change the outcome of the game? Who knows?”
The Eagles were fine covering punts during the regular season – 12th in the NFL allowing 8.1 yards per return. They didn’t allow a return longer than 20 yards all year. They allowed 14 yards on three punt returns in their first two postseason games.
But in a Super Bowl, mistakes are magnified. Especially mistakes in the fourth quarter of a close game against one of the greatest quarterbacks in history.
“It's one of those things where in that heat of the moment, a football player made a play where we could have at least stopped him or minimized the gain, but it didn't,” he said.
“And you've got to look in the mirror as a coach and say, ‘How can I get these guys better so it doesn't happen (again)?’ I'm very fortunate that there's another season to have another opportunity to get to that point. …
“We're really looking forward to the new season and hopefully getting back to that point because it is tough to get to get there. Fortunately, I've been there twice. Unfortunately, I'm 0-for-2. I'd like to change that.”