Posted on February 5, 2018, by Travis Pulver
For fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, it was a moment that had been generations in the making. The last time the Philadelphia Eagles won a championship was 58 years ago—yes, long before the Super Bowl Era ever began. They were one of a handful of teams that had yet to win the big game.
But not anymore.
The Eagles had been in control for the majority of the game. They never led by more than 12-points. But they were ahead for most of the game. But then the Patriots defense held the Eagles to a field goal early in the fourth quarter that extended the Philly lead to six, 32-26, and things changed.
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All Tom Brady needs is a window to make his magic happen. Now that his team was behind by less than a touchdown, he had his window—and he took it. Brady needed ten plays to march the Patriots downfield 75-yards for the go-ahead score.
His four-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski and the ensuing extra point gave New England its first lead of the game, 33-32.
At that point, the stage was set for another Patriots win. They were beaten down early, corrected their mistakes, and figured out how to overcome the opposition. It was an all-too-familiar formula.
But with 9:22 to play, Nick Foles had time. He used most of it on a 14-play, 75-yard drive to retake the lead, 38-33. However, when Zach Ertz made his incredible 11-yard touchdown reception (upheld by the replay official) there was still 2:21 left on the clock.
“If they would have overturned that, I don’t know what would have happened to the city of Philadelphia,” Ertz said after the game (ESPN). “But I’m so glad they didn’t overturn it.”
That’s enough time for Tom Brady to mount two comebacks. But on the second play of the ensuing drive, he was sacked by Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham and fumbled. Eagles rookie Derek Barnett recovered the fumble, and the writing was all but on the wall.
The Eagles tacked on a field goal to make the lead eight, 41-33, with 1:05 to play. It was plenty of time for Brady to pull off some last-minute heroics. But this time, he couldn’t get it done.
As could be expected, Nick Foles was named the MVP. Carson Wentz’s replacement completed a stellar postseason by completing 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. But his most memorable play involved his first career reception. It was a touchdown catch on a fourth and goal play from the one-yard line.
It was a gutsy call by Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, a reverse throwback from tight end Trey Burton.
“We’ve played this game since we were little kids, we dreamed about this moment,” Foles said after the game. “There’s plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment and someday will be here.”
Foles got plenty of help from the rest of the roster, especially his running backs. LeGarrette Blount led the ground game with 90 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Jay Ajayi chipped in another 57 yards with nine carries. Corey Clement led the team in receiving with four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Alshon Jeffrey made a few big catches early on (three for 73 yards and a touchdown). But the Patriots took him away. No matter—Nelson Agholor (nine receptions for 84 yards), Zach Ertz (seven receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown), and Torrey Smith (five receptions for 49 yards) picked up the slack.
The two teams combined for 17 records and tied 12 others. But the most dubious one will belong to Tom Brady. After completing 28 of 48 passes for 505 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions he became the first player in NFL history to lose any game with such a stat line.
Brady had a chance to make a big catch like Foles early in the game but couldn’t haul it in.
“Danny [Amendola] made a good throw,” Brady said (PFT). “I just didn’t make the play. It was there to be made, and I missed the play.”
The Patriots know they are going to lose defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to the Detroit Lions. They are expected to lose offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as well (to the Indianapolis Colts). But they don’t expect to lose Tom Brady who reiterated his stance on retirement after the game.
“I mean it’s 15 minutes after the game ended, so I’d like to process this a little bit,” Brady said after the game (ESPN). “I wouldn’t see why I wouldn’t be back.”
But it sounds like they may be in danger of losing tight end Rob Gronkowski who said (ESPN), “I am definitely going to look at my future.”
As for the Eagles, they have a quarterback that is relatively young and just led the team to its first Super Bowl win—and they are going to bench him next season as soon as Carson Wentz is healthy enough to return.
Can anyone say trade bait?