January 22, 2018
Sports Insider Weekly
And then there were two.
The surprise Super Bowl LII match-up between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots will take place on February 4th at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings lost their bid to become the first team to play the Super Bowl at home on Sunday, in a stunning 38-7 rout by the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. After a miracle win against the Saints last weekend, many expected them to easily put away Philadelphia, whose star quarterback Carson Wentz is out for the season.
Instead, the Eagles dominated the entire game, leaving little suspense or drama. Back-up quarterback Nick Foles became an instant hero in Philly with the performance of his career. He completed 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He also made history as the only quarterback in franchise history to throw for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns in a postseason game.
“Every time he threw the ball,” center Jason Kelce said, “he was on point.”
The favored Vikings looked tired and outmatched, as quarterback Case Keenum and the offense struggled against a pumped up Philadelphia defense. He completed just 28 of his 48 passes for 271 yards, one touchdown and three turnovers. It was a shocking end for what had been a magical season for Minnesota and their third string quarterback turned-potential MVP candidate.
As the Vikings will try to figure out what went wrong during the long off-season ahead, the Eagles will celebrate their first Super Bowl berth since 2004 when they faced–and lost–to the New England Patriots.
The defending champion Pats are appearing in their third Super Bowl in four years–and a record league tenth–while the Eagles are hoping to capture their first ever title.
New England faced a tough opponent in the Jacksonville Jaguars who entered the AFC Championship Game with the No. 1 defense in the league. The Jags started strong, jumping out to an early 14-3 lead. But the deficit was cut to four by halftime, and the momentum shifted in the second half.
The Patriots outscored Jacksonville 14-3 in the final quarter, with Blake Bortles unable to lead his team to the end zone after the break. After trailing most of the game Tom Brady connected with Danny Amendola on the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth to put his team ahead en route to a 24-20 victory.
Many viewers were stunned at the Jaguars’ collapse and started posting conspiracy theories about the game on social media. The majority felt that Brady and Pats had once again found a way to cheat, this time by joining forces with the referees to set up bad calls.
Fueling the fire is this fact: the Patriots were called for just one penalty in Sunday’s game, the fewest penalties called on one team in a playoff game since the 2011 AFC Championship…when the Patriots were called for one penalty in a win over the Ravens.
While there is no evidence to support these claims, it is clear the Patriots are very lucky, on top of being a talented team. One year after completing the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, New England once again pulled off a come from behind win in the last quarter of the AFC Championship Game.
The Eagles know their road to victory won’t be easy.
“People doubt Tom,” said defensive end Chris Long, “and he just goes out there and rips people’s hearts out. That’s what we’re up against.”
For now, though, Philadelphia is celebrating.
“We’re going to the Super Bowl,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “We’re going to the stinkin’ Super Bowl.”