Can you believe the Eagles gave up over 600 yards in total offense to the Patriots and still won the game?
I am struggling with what I saw Sunday night in Minneapolis. Leave it to a jaded Philly fan like me to find fault with the dust on the bottom of the Lombardi Trophy!
I in my wildest dreams did not see the Eagles’ winning a shootout over the New England Patriots. Nor did I see a complete breakdown in our secondary pass coverage.
But both things happened.
Thankfully it came down to ONE BIG PLAY that went our way…and that play was made by DE Brandon Graham, who scorched Tom Brady’s pass protection for the key strip-sack turnover with two minutes to go that essentially sealed the deal for Philly’s first NFL Championship since 1960.
WOW! And even then, it still wasn’t over.
Nick Foles guided the drive of a lifetime, Zach Ertz made a bobbling touchdown catch that had to survive replay review, and an exhausted defense came up with not one but two stands in the final moments Sunday for a 41-33 victory. For the first time since 1960, the Eagles are NFL champions.
“Fly Eagles Fly,” indeed.
“We’ve played this game since we were little kids, we dreamed about this moment,” game MVP Foles said. “There’s plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment and someday will be here.”
In a record-setting shootout between backup QB Foles and five-time champ Brady of the favored Patriots, Foles led a pressure-packed 75-yard drive to the winning touchdown, 11 yards to Ertz with 2:21 to go .
With time running out, Brady got his team to midfield, but his desperation pass fell to the ground in the end zone.
“For us, it was all about one stop we had to make. We went out here and made that one stop,” Graham said.
That’s when the underdog Eagles, even injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz, came bolting off the sideline in ecstasy while Brady sat on the ground, disconsolate.
It was the first modern-era Super Bowl title for Philadelphia (16-3), which went 7-9 last season.
“If there’s a word, (it’s) called everything,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “That’s what it means to Eagles fans everywhere. And for Eagles fans everywhere, this is for them.”
Super Bowl MVP Foles orchestrated the victory with the kind of winning drive NFL MVP Brady, a five-time champion, is known for. The drive covered 14 plays, including a fourth-down conversion.
“I felt calm. I mean, we have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff,” Foles said. “We felt confident coming in, and we just went out there and played football.”
The Eagles had to survive a video replay because the ball popped into the air as Ertz crossed the goal line. But anyone who knows football could see Ertz had secured the catch before turning into a running back and then crossed the plane of the goal.
“If they would have overturned that, I don’t know what would have happened to the city of Philadelphia,” Ertz said. “But I’m so glad they didn’t overturn it.”
The touchdown stood — and so did thousands of green-clad Eagles fans who weren’t going to mind the frigid conditions outside US Bank Stadium once they headed out to celebrate. But not before a rousing rendition of “Fly Eagles Fly” reverberated throughout the stands once the trophy was presented to Lurie. Later, fans danced along with the “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from “Rocky,” the city’s best-known fictional underdog.
The Patriots (15-4) seemed ready to take their sixth championship with Brady and coach Bill Belichick in eight Super Bowls. Brady threw for a game-record 505 yards and three TDs, hitting Rob Gronkowski for 4 yards before Stephen Gostkowski‘s extra point gave New England its first lead, 33-32.
Then Foles made them forget Wentz — and least for now — with the gutsiest drive of his life.
“We couldn’t make a play to give the ball back to the offense,” Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said.
Foles has been something of a journeyman in his six pro seasons, but he has been spectacular in four career playoff games. He finished 28 of 43 for 373 yards and three TDs.
The combined 1,151 yards were the most in any modern NFL game, and Brady’s 505 were the most in any playoff contest. The 40-year-old master finished 28 of 48 and picked apart the Eagles until the final two series.
It was such a wild game that Foles caught a touchdown pass , and Brady was on the opposite end of a Danny Amendola throw that went off his fingertips.
Brady and the Patriots, trailing at the half, looked ready for another comeback by opening the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive. Gronkowski was unstoppable, grabbing four passes for 69 yards, including the 5-yard score.
Philly’s offense didn’t flinch, answering with a precise 75-yard march and three more third-down conversions; the Eagles were 10 for 16 on 3rd down for the game. The last was on Foles’ perfect pass to Clement over double coverage. The rookie’s reception was upheld by review, and the Eagles were back on top by 10.
Brady shrugged and, getting steadfast protection, connected with Chris Hogan from the 26 for another touchdown.
When all the Eagles could manage was Elliott’s 42-yarder for a 32-26 lead, it seemed inevitable the Patriots would go in front, then become the first repeat Super Bowl winner since they did it in the 2004 and `05 games.
Foles, Ertz, and — at last — a revitalized defense said otherwise.
The weird image of Brady ambling downfield on a pass pattern came three plays after New England lost receiver Brandin Cooks to a concussion on a vicious but clean hit by Malcolm Jenkins in the second quarter. Amendola’s pass required an over-the-shoulder grab and the ball fell off Brady’s outstretched hands.
Brady got back to passing after a wild interception. Alshon Jeffery nearly made a spectacular catch near the Patriots’ goal line, only to juggle the ball into the air. Duron Harmon picked it off at the 10. Moments later, Brady was connecting with Chris Hogan for 42 yards.
James White broke several tackles with a brilliant 26-yard run and it was 15-12. That gave White seven touchdowns in his past three postseason games, including the overtime winner in last year’s Super Bowl.
But the Eagles still had 2:04 left in the half — and some more magic in their bag.
A short third-down throw to rookie Corey Clement on a circle route turned into a 55-yard explosion down to the Patriots 8. Philly got to the 1 and on fourth down, it was Foles’ turn to morph into a receiver.
He did better than Brady. On fourth down, Clement took a direct snap, pitched to tight end Trey Burton, and the former Florida QB hit an uncovered Foles. The Eagles were up 22-12 at halftime, the most points New England has allowed in the opening half of a Super Bowl under Belichick.
Each team started with 67-yard drives to field goals — New England had never scored a first-quarter point with Brady in a Super Bowl.
Each kicker later faltered, with Elliott missing the extra point, his fifth failed PAT this season, after Jeffery’s 34-yard touchdown. Then Gostkowski hit the left upright with a 26-yard field goal after holder Ryan Allen mishandled the snap. Gostkowski also missed an extra point.
When LeGarrette Blount, who won the title last season with the Patriots, scored on a 21-yard burst, Pederson went for 2, but the pass failed, making it 15-3.
The Eagles and Pederson brushed it off and stayed with their usual aggressive approach. Breathtakingly, it eventually paid off.
I’m still shocked from the game I just witnessed on TV. I can only imagine the shock and awe experienced by the Philly fans who were in attendance at Minneapolis.
Jake Elliott 25 Yd Field Goal
14 plays, 67 yards, 7:05
Stephen Gostkowski 26 Yd Field Goal
9 plays, 67 yards, 3:38
Alshon Jeffery 34 Yd pass from Nick Foles
3 plays, 77 yards, 1:43
LeGarrette Blount 21 Yd Run (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)
6 plays, 65 yards, 3:05
Stephen Gostkowski 45 Yd Field Goal
5 plays, 48 yards, 1:24
James White 26 Yd Run
7 plays, 90 yards, 2:57
Nick Foles 1 Yd pass from Trey Burton (Jake Elliott Kick)
7 plays, 70 yards, 1:30
Rob Gronkowski 5 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick)
8 plays, 75 yards, 2:45
Corey Clement 22 Yd pass from Nick Foles (Jake Elliott Kick)
11 plays, 85 yards, 4:57
Chris Hogan 26 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick)
7 plays, 75 yards, 3:55
Jake Elliott 42 Yd Field Goal
8 plays, 51 yards, 4:14
Rob Gronkowski 4 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Stephen Gostkowski Kick)
10 plays, 75 yards, 4:47
Zach Ertz 11 Yd pass from Nick Foles (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)
14 plays, 75 yards, 7:01
Jake Elliott 46 Yd Field Goal
4 plays, 4 yards, 1:04
|Passing 1st downs||19||23|
|Rushing 1st downs||6||4|
|1st downs from penalties||0||2|
|3rd down efficiency||10-16||5-10|
|4th down efficiency||2-2||1-2|
|Yards per Play||7.6||8.5|
|Yards per pass||8.5||10.0|
|Yards per rush||6.1||5.1|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-4||2-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
Lest it be unacknowledged, our Gate Keeper GK Brizer chimed in before the kickoff: