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Eagles Rookie Jalen Carter Comes Close to Making NFL History after Being Inspired by YouTube

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Jalen Carter dives to the ground against the Chiefs.Getty Jalen Carter dives to the ground against the Chiefs.
Toward the end of the first half of the Eagles’ comeback win over the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs, rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter almost made one of the most interesting interceptions the NFL has ever seen.
With just three seconds left, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes hurried back to the line of scrimmage to spike the balls and stop the clock. It was at this moment that Carter lunged through the legs of Chiefs’ center Creed Humphrey in an attempt to intercept the ball before it hit the ground. In the video playback, there at Mahomes’ feet, it’s clear that Carter got his hands on the ball but just couldn’t hold on.

Carter Inspired by YouTube But Play Has Precedent in NFL

When asked about the play by Eliot Shorr-Parks of WIP after the game, Carter said, “I saw it on the internet, I’ve seen it on YouTube, some high school kid tried, and he actually caught the ball. I thought, ‘That’s a good idea,’ I knew they would spike it, so I tried to go for it.”

According to NBC’s Michael David Smith, “It has actually happened more than once in high school games (videos here and here), but never in the NFL.” Smith’s words are true, but there’s one caveat: Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett also attempted a spike interception back in 2017 against the Jets and he was actually successful. It just so happens that the play was called back for a Jets’ false start.

So, Carter truly almost made history Monday night, but other players’ imaginations have undoubtedly been sparked. Fans should now be prepared to see more defensive tackles trying this throughout the league.

The line-leaping once employed to block field goals and the spike interception evoke similar amazement at the quickness and athleticism it takes to pull off plays like these. The surprise factor is also entertaining, especially when the play is successful. Line-leaping was, of course, banned in 2017, but banning the spike interception seems unlikely.

The actions taken by Carter in the play in question are so similar to dives tackles make on fumbled snaps, and other normal football plays that it would be hard to construct an argument against it. Still, centers will likely be watching their feet on any spikes to stop the clock in Week 12 and through to the end of the season.


Carter’s Value to the Eagles Transcends One Viral Novelty Play

The viral nature of Carter’s spike interception attempt has only brought the rookie more attention. What’s more noteworthy than this one novelty, though, is how meaningful Carter’s play has been for the Eagles this year.

Olivia Reiner of the Philadelphia Inquirer graded the Eagles rookie class back on November 13th, saying, “Carter is good. Like, really good. And not just really good for a rookie. In eight games, Carter has generated 29 pressures (tied for eighth in the league among interior defensive linemen) by Pro Football Focus’ count, including four sacks and 20 hurries.”

She goes on to say in that same article, “He (Carter) has earned a prominent role in his rookie season — playing 49% of the defensive snaps (despite missing Week 6 against the New York Jets with an injury), second among Eagles defensive tackles behind only Fletcher Cox.”

In his first year as a pro, Carter has been a meaningful contributor to one of the best starts in Eagles history at 9-1. It will be exciting to see how he blossoms in his skill and creativity for years to come.

David Burleson covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Philadelphia Eagles. Residing in Orlando, FL, he covered sports for the West Orlando News before joining Heavy. More about David Burleson

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