February 5, 2018
Sports Insider Weekly
At long last, the Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions.
Backup quarterback turned MVP Nick Foles threw for three touchdowns and caught another in Philadelphia’s unexpected 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Sunday night. The win was the franchise’s first NFL Championship since 1960, which was prior to the Super Bowl era.
“I wasn’t worrying about the scoreboard, I wasn’t worrying about the time, I was just playing ball,” said Foles, who threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. “Sometimes you start worrying about that so much that it starts creeping into your brain. Whatever play (head coach) Doug Pederson called, I was going to go out there and rip it. That was our mindset going into this. We had to play a strong 60 minutes, and it took 60 minutes to win this game.”
Philadelphia scored a field goal on their first possession and jumped out to an early 9-3 lead, keeping New England out of the end zone in the first quarter. The Patriots scored their first touchdown in the second to cut the deficit to three, putting pressure on the Eagles for the first time in the game. With the clock clicking down Philly responded with a bold move: instead of kicking a short field goal on fourth & goal, Pederson called a trick play which saw Foles catch the TD pass in the end-zone to put them ahead by 10 heading into the half.
Despite a lackluster first half, Tom Brady and the Patriots, who trailed 28-3 at half-time last year before mounting an epic come-from-behind win, looked poised to do so again. They scored two quick touchdowns in the third quarter and again in the fourth for their first–and only–lead, 33-32. The game, which had seemed to heavily favor Philadelphia, was suddenly tense.
Foles led the Eagles down the field once again, this time connecting with Zach Ertz who bobbled the ball in a hotly contested touchdown call. While many, even the announcers, thought it would be overturned, the ruling stood to put Philadelphia ahead 38-33 with a little over two minutes left. Philly, who had missed a PAT earlier in the game, missed a two-point conversion to keep the lead at five.
The biggest defensive play of the game–for either team–came on the Patriots next possession. With New England needing just a touchdown to go ahead and complete another epic comeback, defensive end Brandon Graham strip sacked Brady to give the Eagles the ball back at the NE 31 yard line.
Philadelphia moved the chains to score a touchdown and go ahead by eight, draining the clock to give the ball back to the Pats with just over a minute left. Brady, widely considered to be the best quarterback of all time, and certainly best clutch player in the league, got his team to mid-field with nine seconds left. Needing a touchdown and successful two point conversion to tie, he launched a Hail Mary into the end zone, where the ball intended for target Rob Gronkowski was batted down as time expired.
There was no replay, or foul, or time to process what had happened before confetti streamed down on the Eagles players and coaches that flooded the field. Philadelphia had won its first Super Bowl, with a backup quarterback lovingly nicknamed “Saint Nick”, against a team no one thought they could beat. On a night when Brady threw for over 500 yards and no interceptions, it wasn’t enough to overcome the magic of the underdog Eagles.
“But you know, I’m just happy, because we are world champs,” Graham, who recorded the game’s only sack said. “And we worked our butts off. And everybody that doubted us, we’re world champs, baby, and that’s all I’ve got to say.”