In what was a complete offensive showdown, The Philadelphia Eagles captured their first Super Bowl in franchise history after knocking off the defending champions, The New England Patriots 41-33 in a thriller.
Forget defense, despite both teams fielding two top five scoring defenses, The Eagle and The Patriot offense combined for 1,151 total yards, an NFL record in both regular and postseason games. The Patriots, in the last four years have played in three of the most memorable Super Bowls in NFL history, but this time ended up on the wrong side of history, falling heartbreakingly short of winning what would have been a record-tying sixth Super Bowl in franchise history.
After losing their franchise quarterback and MVP contender, Carson Wentz to an ACL tear in Week 13, most had written off The Eagles for the rest of the season. In fact, they had been heavy underdogs in their two previous playoff games despite owning the number one seed in the NFC as well as the home field advantage it entails.
Coming into the Super Bowl, they were also underdogs by four and a half points to The Patriots. However, embracing their underdog label as they had done all postseason, The Eagles lead by their backup quarterback, Nick Foles went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and The Patriots in a shootout and dethroned the perennial powerhouse of the NFL.
The game began with The Eagles offense asserting themselves against The Patriots defense, getting out to an early lead in the first quarter. Eagles’ head coach Doug Peterson called a great game on offense, getting his backup quarterback comfortable early and boosting his confidence for the rest of the game.
After early struggles in the red zone, The Patriots - despite moving the ball at will on the Eagles defense - had only three points to show for after racking up over 200 yards of total offense midway through the second quarter. Meanwhile, The Eagles offense was rolling, a 21-yard rushing touchdown by former Patriot, LeGarrette Blount gave Philly a 15-3 lead with 8:55 left in the second quarter.
Despite a double-digit lead early on, most knew the game was not over and fully expected Tom Brady to mount a Patriot comeback as he had throughout the season and throughout his illustrious 18-year career. And unsurprisingly, they were not mistaken. After a 43 yard dart by Brady to wide receiver Chris Hogan deep down the right sideline, running back James White capped off a 90 yard drive by Brady and company with a 26 yard rushing touchdown while breaking a couple of tackles along the way, and cut the Philly lead to just three points with 2:12 left in the half.
However, The Eagles were able to march right down the field in their two-minute offense, thanks largely to a 55-yard catch and run by Eagles’ running back Corey Clement on a wheel route during a critical a third and three from Philadelphia's own 37-yard line. The drive stalled when the Eagles faced and fourth and one at the Patriot one-yard line, where convention told The Eagles to take the field goal and a six-point led at halftime.
Nevertheless, Doug Peterson continued his ultra-aggressive game and made the gutsy call to go for it. A trick play by The Eagles in which tight end Trey Burton received the ball on a jet sweep to the right sideline fooled The Patriots defense, as he threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Nick Foles and sent the Eagles to the locker room with a 22-12 lead after what turned out to be the defining play of the game.
The second half began with Brady and The Patriots offense playing catch up, but breathing down on Philadelphia's neck. The first drive of the half included a heavy dosage of all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski who caught all four receptions on the drive for 68 yards, including a five-yard touchdown reception that once again cut the Eagle lead to just three points.
However, despite Brady pilling on the pressure on the Eagles offense, Nick Foles continued to answer, as the Patriots defense could not contain the Philly offense. Nick Foles answered Brady’s touchdown pass to Gronkowski, with one of his own. A 22 yard rainbow down the left sideline to Corey Clement, once again extended Philadelphia's lead to ten points, with the score being 29-19.
Brady regardless, continued his stellar performance, engineering a 75-yard scoring drive, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Hogan. On the ensuing Eagles drive, the New England Defense finally prevented Philly from putting up seven on the scoreboard. Regardless, a 42-yard field goal by Jake Elliott gave Philadelphia 32-26 lead with 14:14 left in the fourth quarter.
This minor win for the Pats defense allowed their offense to attempt to orchestrate a drive to take the lead for the first time in the game. And they did just that, taking a 33-32 lead via a four-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski on a goal-line fade against the much smaller Eagles defensive back, Ronald Darby.
Getting the ball with 9:26 left in the game and just a one-point deficient, The Eagles mounted a 75-yard drive, which chewed up 7:01 off the clock. The drive included two, third down and one, fourth down conversion on the part of the Eagles and was capped off by an 11-yard touchdown reception by pro bowl tight end, Zach Ertz, giving the Eagles a five-point lead after a failed two-point conversion.
However, this meant that Brady would possess the ball with 2:25 left and two timeouts, with a chance to engineer a touchdown drive for his sixth Super Bowl. The Hollywood script was yet again present for Brady as it has been so many times in his career. Regardless, it was not meant to be as the Eagles defense finally made a play, after getting carved up by Brady and company all game. On a second and two at the Philly 32 yard line, Eagles’ star defensive end, Brandon Graham finally applied pressure on Brady and strip-sacked the quarterback, which was recovered by his teammate and fellow defensive end, Derek Barnett.
A field goal extended Philadelphia’s lead to eight points and The Patriots had to attempt a Hail Mary, which was not answered. An exhilarating back and forth affair ended with the better team on the night, The Philadelphia Eagles defeating the New England Patriots 41-33 en route to capturing their first Super Bowl in franchise history while ending The Patriots’ quest for a repeat as well as a sixth championship overall.
For The Eagles, this game was an execution of a perfect gameplan on offense as Doug Peterson got the most out of his backup quarterback, while the defense stepped up and made the necessary plays at the end of the game needed to win. They accomplished the seemingly impossible task of stopping Brady in a late game situation. For their fans and the city of Philadelphia, it is a long overdue title after having to wait 85 years for this exact moment.
For The Patriots, losing Brandin Cooks for the game in the first half did not help their chances, but the offense was not their problem. Brady threw for 505 yards on 48 pass attempts for three touchdowns and no interceptions, while the Patriots racked up 613 total yards of offense without punting the whole game, AND THEY LOST. The defense was just abysmal and its lack of talent due to injuries was exposed. The secondary was abused by a backup quarterback in Foles and The Eagles offensive line absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage. It was the worst defensive performance by the Patriots under Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach.
The Patriots face an uncertain future and are expected to go through major shake ups, with both offensive coordinator, Josh Mcdaniels, and defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia expected to leave the Patriots for head coaching positions elsewhere in the NFL.
In addition, cornerback and Super Bowl XLIX hero, Malcolm Butler is also expected to leave the team in free agency. Butler, who was mysteriously benched in the game and played zero snaps on defense the entire game voiced his frustrations to the media afterward, stating that “They gave up on [him]” and that “It is what it is.”
All-pro tight end and The Patriots’ best weapon on offense, Rob Gronkowski may also be contemplating an early retirement after racking up so numerous chronic injuries in his career. When answering questions from the media after the game, Gronkowski mentioned that he is “definitely going to look at [his] future, for sure” and that he will “sit down in the next couple of weeks and see where [he is] at.” If Gronk does retire, the Patriots will struggle as an offense without the all-pro and it will be a major loss for the team moving forward.
All is not lost however, as despite the rumored tensions between the two of them, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are expected to return in their respective roles for the 2018-19 season. Regardless, Brady will enter next season as 41-year-old starting quarterback and Belichick will attempt to guide the Patriots to another Super Bowl among even more certain adversities. As for now, only time will tell if The Patriots are truly “not done.”