Jake Elliott was just 23 years old in the midst of the Eagles' run to the Super Bowl in the 2017 season. It was the culmination of what he recalls as a "whirlwind" experience. As a rookie, he was drafted by Cincinnati, started the regular season on the Bengals' practice squad, joined the Eagles in Week 2 after Caleb Sturgis was injured, set the franchise record with a walk-off 61-yard field goal in his Lincoln Financial Field debut to beat the Giants and spark a nine-game win streak, kicked the longest playoff field goal in Eagles history (53 yards) to help beat Atlanta in the Divisional Round, and, finally, broke the NFL all-time rookie record longest Super Bowl field goal (46 yards).
"I try not to think too much about it, but it definitely was a little bit different," Elliott said this week. "All of a sudden, we were on this incredible run. It all happened really fast for me, so as I've played in more postseason games since then, it's been a little bit different knowing that I've been there and knowing kind of what to expect.
"It's always exciting when you get into the dance. I think it's easy to take for granted. We've had a lot of success here and, luckily, we've been able to play in a lot of postseason games. But you talk to guys that come from other places and a lot of them it's their first time, so gotta make sure we don't take it for granted and go out there and execute. It's 0-0 and a lot of people are preaching that, but really, anything can happen.
"There's definitely a sense of urgency and I think guys understand that and guys are itching and hoping that we can get this thing fixed as fast as possible. I think there's a lot of urgency, there's a lot of excitement about this game, going down to Tampa, familiar opponent, and hopefully getting things back on the right track."
Since that spectacular rookie season, Elliott has refused to settle. He earned All-Pro honors for the first time – he was a Pro Bowl selection in 2021 – after setting the franchise's all-time record (this is a copy and paste phrase with Elliott) for single-season field goal percentage (93.8, 30 of 32) and field goals of 50-plus yards (7), while also besting his previous single-season marks for points (135). He enters the postseason with a streak of 14 straight made field goals and embraces the pressure of the playoffs.
"I like it when moments are bigger," Elliott said. "I don't necessarily think it changes anything mentally for me, but I do enjoy those moments. I think you kind of have to as a specialist in order to stay sane and competitive in this league. Definitely enjoy playoff football, enjoy the playoff atmosphere, enjoy the crowds."
Even though the stakes are higher, Elliott keeps the same weekly routine. Still, there has been plenty of change for him to weather in 2023. On the field, the kicking operation changed as Braden Mann took over at punter and holder in Week 3 with limited time to build cohesion with Elliott and long snapper Rick Lovato.
"It's been awesome. I can't say enough good things about those guys and how easy they make my job. I mean, there's never a doubt in my mind that this thing's not going to be exactly where it needs to be, exactly when it needs to be there," Elliott said. "To think that we didn't start together, the operation kind of took care of itself and everything's been super smooth ever since Braden showed up in Week 3. It was a quick transition. Clicked pretty fast. It makes my job really comfortable back there."
Off the field, Elliott became a first-time father at the start of Training Camp as he and his wife, Annie, welcomed a son, Beau, on July 29.
"It's been quite a difference on what my day to day looks like," Elliott said. "I think it makes me not taking coming in here for granted. I really enjoy my time here and then when I want to go home, I can kind of get away from it all and be a dad and be a part of the family and I think that's been good for my overall balance between football and family. It's been a lot of fun going home and it puts a lot of things into perspective.
"I definitely think that's always kind of in the back of your head, you know, just kind of thinking of your son back and really what you're doing this for and understanding that it's a long season, it's hard to be away, but knowing that at the end of this there is a greater good and I get to go home – hopefully four weeks from now – and get to be a full-time father for a bunch of months. It's been a different journey and it's been a lot of fun."
For the Eagles to keep their season going, they will have to win their return trip to Tampa Bay, where they won 25-11 back in Week 3. Elliott was 3-for-3 in field goals and scored 11 points in that Monday night matchup.
"It'll be a good change of scenery after a long winter in the Northeast," Elliott said. "I'm excited to get down there, hopefully some decent weather, and, more importantly, try to get a win."