"These plays are important because the players have fun with them when you practice them. It's not the usual bread and butter."
One key Arizona player would prefer to stick with the tried and true: Warner.
"I want to throw them out every week," Warner said. "As a quarterback, you always want to be in control. With trick plays, you are not in control. They are hit or miss."
But when they hit ...
Ben Roethlisberger handed off to running back Willie Parker, who previously had broken a 75-yard scoring run. So Seattle's secondary was wary of Parker and took the bait.
Then Parker handed off to wideout Antwaan Randle El, a quarterback in college. Randle El ran to his right and hit Hines Ward for the long TD pass. It was the first Super Bowl touchdown pass by a receiver.
"Coach Whis was always good at drawing it up," Roethlisberger said. "If you catch it at the right time, it's kind of a big lift for the offense and the team."
It's particularly effective when the team trying the trickery is one so steeped in the basics of the game: outhitting and outblocking the opponent.
"If they read their keys, play sound football and make sure their eyes are where they belong," Cardinals defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said, referring to his defenders, "they can handle the gadget plays. You hope they are in the right position when they do one. The eyes are the keys to hopefully being able to defend it."
Sometimes a defensive back does almost everything correctly and still gets burned. That happened to Eagles safety Quintin Demps in the NFC title game.
Demps was running downfield covering Fitzgerald when Warner's rainbow set sail. When Demps turned to find the ball, he stumbled and fell.
Fitzgerald, an All-Pro who needs no such aid, caught the pass and trotted into the end zone.
"Usually, people get into a panic mode," said Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh's best cover cornerback. "(Demps) was in position, but then he fell. Guys who can maintain being cool and calm are able to cover plays like that."
Against Atlanta in the wild-card round, Fitzgerald outjumped two defenders to score on a 42-yard flea-flicker from Warner.
Taylor is certain that every team enters a game expecting the unexpected.
"Every game, you are looking at what they have on tape and thinking they will have a few trick plays," he said. "Heading onto the field, we even talk about it."
He's less likely to do it now without Randle El, although Ward played some quarterback in college and has long been among football's most versatile players. Arizona has wideout Anquan Boldin, who also played some quarterback at Florida State.
The deceptions are not limited to non-quarterbacks throwing the ball, or double reverses. Pittsburgh tried a fake punt in the playoffs against San Diego. It flopped.
Arizona faked a 39-yard field goal at Carolina on fourth-and-14, and holder Dirk Johnson hit Jerame Tuman for a 10-yard gain. Another flop.
"Every time you call one," Arians said, "you hold your breath a little bit."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press