Time 1, Tom 0: Philadelphia Eagles win Super Bowl LII 41-33
Sunday, February 4, 2018 was the last day of the 2017-18 football season. A season full of crazy storylines and crazy moments. The final game of the season was between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, and it was a battle of the two best teams in the NFL during the regular season. The Patriots went 13-3 en route to being the champions in the AFC, and the Eagles went 13-3 en route to being the NFC champions. Neither team’s season was perfect, and in some ways they were far from it. The Patriots had to deal with an injury to Tom Brady’s favorite receiver, Julian Edelman, during the preseason, and the second half of the season was surrounded in controversy about a power struggle at the top of the organization. The Philadelphia Eagles were flying high in the regular season, and had and 11-2 record after beating the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14. During that game against the Rams, the Eagles lost their quarterback, Carson Wentz, for the remainder of the season because he tore his ACL, and this was no small loss. Wentz was the frontrunner in the league’s MVP race, and the fate of the team would be in the hands of Nick Foles and the defense. None of this mattered for either team anymore though, as the only thing that truly mattered was making sure that when they left Minnesota, they were bringing back the Lombardi trophy to their city.
In the first quarter, the Eagles started with the ball after the Patriots won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Eagles were able to get the ball rolling quickly, and had an efficient drive that resulted in a field goal. The Eagles were running the ball on first down and passing when they had to. They converted on several third downs, one of which was a nice catch by Torrey Smith, who caught the ball with his helmet, a la David Tyree. The Eagles found themselves in the red zone, and poised to start the game off with a touchdown, but their tight end, Zach Ertz, had a false start which allowed for the Patriots defense to recuperate and shut down the Eagles, who were held to just a field goal on their opening drive. Their opening drive was slow and meticulous, and they took up nearly half of the quarter before giving the ball back to the Patriots. The Patriots got the ball back and got things going quickly. They moved down the field thanks to Tom Brady’s surgeon-like precision while throwing the football. Brady connected with James White and Chris Hogan on several underneath routes for big gains, but ultimately ended up getting stopped in the red zone, and were held to just a field goal to tie the game. The Patriots first drive was fast, and only took about four minutes off the clock, but it was the first time aht the Patriots scored in the first quarter of a Super Bowl that Tom Brady played in. The Eagles got the ball back with a tie game, and immediately pounded the rock with LeGarrette Blount, who had a big run down the right side of the field to get the Eagles onto the Patriots’ half of the field. The long run by Blount set up a deep bomb from Nick Foles, who aired out a pass to Alshon Jeffery, who hauled in the pass for a 34-yard touchdown. The 34-yard touchdown pass was the longest in Eagles’ Super Bowl history. The Eagles then missed the extra point attempt, but they still had a 9-3 lead before the giving the ball back to Brady and Company. The Patriots got the ball back, and it looked as if their drive was stalling thanks to a false start penalty on Rob Gronkowski, but on third down, Brady came through again. He found his go to guy on third downs this postseason, Danny Amendola, wide open down the field on a wheel route for a massive gain of 50 yards. The first quarter ended with the Patriots setting up camp in the red zone thanks to some nice runs by James White. At the end of the first quarter, the Eagles led the Patriots 9-3.
The second quarter saw the Patriots pick up right where they left off, sitting pretty in the red zone. The first play of the quarter was an end-around to Brandin Cooks, who failed convert for a first down despite nearly hurdling an Eagles defender. The Patriots then set up for a field goal, but the snap low, and the Patriots missed the field goal that would have put them down by just three points. The Eagles then got the ball back near their own end zone. The Eagles would be unable to get anything going on their first drive of the second quarter, as the Patriots pass rush was able to get some nice pressure on Nick Foles. The Eagles went three-and-out and punted the ball back to the Patriots, giving them a chance to take the lead after missing a field goal moments earlier. The Pats got things going quickly, as Tom Brady hit Brandin Cooks for a gain of , but Cooks was hurt on the play after some good ol’ fashioned helmet-to-helmet contact courtesy of Malcolm Jenkins. Cooks was able to walk to the locker room under his own power, but was ruled out for the rest of the game. The Patriots drive would stall after the injury to Brandin Cooks, and on third down, the Patriots tried to run a trick play and pass the ball to Tom Brady, who dropped the wide open pass. The Patriots went for it on fourth down, but Brady couldn't connect with Rob Gronkowski on a deep pass, and the ball belonged to the Eagles once more. The Eagles were able to get the ball rolling on their second drive thanks to a third down completion to Zach Ertz who picked up a big gain to get the ball past the 50 yard line. Foles followed up the third down conversion with a beautiful over-the-shoulder pass to Alshon Jeffery, which got the ball to the 20. On the very next play, Foles handed the ball off to LeGarrette Blount, who found the endone against his former team. The Eagles then attempted a two-point conversion after missing an extra point in the first half, but they were unable to convert on a fade to Alshon Jeffery. The Patriots wasted no time in trying to get back into the game, running a screen pass for Rex Burkhead on the first play for a massive gain of 46 yards. The Patriots then failed to do anything on the next three plays, which led to a field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, which cut the lead to 9 points. The Eagles drive got off to a rocky start thanks to another false start penalty from Zach Ertz, but he was bailed out thanks to a big run from Jay Ajayi who pulled off a big run on third down to keep the drive alive. Nick Foles then attempted a deep bomb to Alshon Jeffery, who couldn’t hang onto the ball, and it popped out and found its way into Harmon’s hands for a Patriots interception, and Brady got the ball back inside his own 10-yard line. The Patriots drive looked it was going to be a quick three-and-out, but the Patriots were bailed out thanks to a holding penalty on Jalen Mills, which gave the Patriots a first down. Brady then completed a deep pass to Chris Hogan down the right sideline for a 43 yard gain. Brady then handed the ball off to James White, who spun and ran through the Eagles’ defense en route to a 28-yard touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski then missed the field goal, and the Patriots were down by three points. The Eagles got the ball back with two minutes left in the half, and Nick Foles found Corey Clement on a wheel route for a massive gain to get the eagles into the red zone. The Eagles found themselves in a fourth down situation at the one yard line, and they went for it. They ran a trick play, where they snapped the ball to the running back, who handed the ball to Trey Burton, who then passed it to Nick Foles for the touchdown. It was an incredible play, and an even more incredible play call. Jake Elliot managed to make the extra point to put the Eagles up by 10 points. Nick Foles became the first player to throw a touchdown pass and catch a touchdown pass in Super Bowl history. The Patriots got the ball back with just 34 seconds left in the half, and Brady was looking to score. He completed a pass downfield to Phillip Dorsett to get them near the 45-yard line. Brady then screamed to the 50-yard line, and and then spiked the ball with three second left in the half. The Patriots threw a screen pass to Danny Amendola, who picked up a decent gain, but it was not enough to get into the end zone. At the half, the Eagles led the Patriots 22-12.
The Patriots got the ball to start the third quarter because they differed when they won the coin toss. Brady got the drive going by connecting with Rob Gronkowski on a second down pass for about 20 yards, and then on the next play Brady and Gronk connected again for another big gain. The Brady-Gronk connection looked to be strong in the second half, as they connected on another pass to get the Patriots into the red zone. In fact, the connection was as strong as ever, as Brady and Gronk connected for the fourth time on a hitch route for a touchdown. Gostkowski then came out and nailed the extra point to cut the lead to three points. Brady and Gronk connected four times on their opening drive for 68-yards, after the two connected just once for nine yards in the first half. The Eagles first drive of the half got off to a rough start thanks to an illegal block in the back penalty on the Eagles during their return. Just as the Eagles drive was looking like it would be a 3-and-out, Foles completed a pass to Nelson Agholor, and a Patriots defensive back missed the tackle which allowed for a first down. LeGarrette Blount then bullied his way into Patriots territory thanks to a nice run up the middle. Foles then connected with Zach Ertz on a wheel route to help his team pick up a first down. Foles would then hook up with Corey Clement on what appeared to be a touchdown pass, and Foles just threw an absolute dime. Foles threw the ball between three defenders, but it was unclear whether or not the catch was complete as Clement went out of bounds, and the refs reviewed it. It looked to me like it was incomplete, but it was ruled a touchdown, and Elliot nailed the extra point. The Eagles lead was back up to 10 as the score was 29-19. The Patriots came back onto the field and were unable to get anything going on their first two plays, but Mychal Kendricks held Gronk on second down and bailed out the Patriots, allowing them to pick up a first down. Brady then connected with Hogan for a 15 yard gain as the Patriots began to march toward the end zone. Brady then proceeded to connect with Danny Amendola on 3rd-and-1 for a first down to keep the chains moving, and then on the very next play, connected with Chris Hogan on a skinny-post for a touchdown. Gostkowski nailed his extra point, and the Patriots were down by three once again. The Eagles got the ball back with 3:23 left in the third quarter and were looking to grab a two-possession lead for the second-straight drive. Foles got the drive going quickly with a 24-yard toss to Nelson Agholor on another perfect throw. On the next play, Foles connected with Torrey Smith for another first down, and the Eagles offense was looking like a well-oiled machine. On second down, Doug Pederson continued his incredible play calling with an end-around to Agholor for another first down. The third quarter came to a close with the Eagles knocking on the door to the end zone once again. At the end of the third, the Eagles led the Patriots 29-26.
The fourth quarter started with a big hit by Marquis Flowers on a pass to Nelson Agholor for a loss of eight yards, setting up a 42-yard field goal by Jake Elliot, which gave the Eagles a six point lead to with a lot of time left in the fourth quarter. The Patriots got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, and were looking to take advantage. The drive got started with a five-yard run by Rex Burkhead, and they went right back to him on the next play to pick up a first down at the 40-yard line. The next set of downs saw the Patriots hand the ball off to Burkhead again and then complete a screen pass to Chris hogan to set up a 3rd-and-3. The Patriots converted the third down on an out route to Danny Amendola. Brady then connected with Danny Amendola on the next play, which was a play-action pass for a big gain. The next play went to Amendola again, and it was a screen pass for nine yards, and the Patriots were knocking on the door once again. They picked up the first down on a run up the middle by James White, two plays later, Brady connected with Gronkowski on a fade for a touchdown pass, giving New England their first lead of the game. Gostkowski nailed the extra point to put the Patriots ahead 33-32. The Eagles got their next drive started by anding the ball off to Jay Ajayi for a four-yard gain, and on the next play Foles hurled the ball deep for Torrey Smith, but he was unable to come up with a catch thanks to some solid defense by the defensive back. On third down, Foles connected with Zach Ertz for a first down to keep the drive rolling. The Patriots were able to keep the Eagles at bay over the next three plays, thanks to a heads up play by James Harrison. The Eagles elected to go for it on fourth down, and Foles connected with Zach Ertz once again for the first down, and he barely got it. Foles then connected with Agholor on second down for a gain of just over 10-yards for another first down. At this point, the Patriots’ pass rush was beginning to leak through the Eagles offensive line. On the next play, Foles connected with Agholor once more over the middle to put the Eagles into Patriots territory once more. The next play was another pass to Agholor, for another first down, and the Eagles were sitting pretty in the Red Zone. On third down, Nick Foles hit Zach Ertz on a slant for what appeared to be a touchdown, but the refs would have to review the play, as the ball popped out when Ertz dove into the endzone. The ruling on the field was upheld, and the play was a touchdown. The Eagles went for two to try and get up by a touchdown, and the play was incomplete. Foles was unable to complete the pass to Clement, thanks to some excellent defense by Van Noy, and the Eagles were up by five points with less than three minutes remaining. The fate of the Patriots would fall into the hands of Tom Brady, with a chance to lead another incredible game-winning drive. The drive got started with a pass to Gronkowski for eight yards, and on the very next play, Tom Brady was stripped as he was trying to throw the ball, and the Eagles got the ball back. The Eagles were now looking to run down the clock. They ran the ball twice on back-to-back plays, but were unable to pick up a first down by the time the two minute warning hit. On third-and-five, the Eagles ran again with LeGarrette Blount, but failed to pick up the first down. Jake Elliot nailed a 46-yard field goal to put the Eagles up by eight points with just over a minute left, and Brady would have to score a touchdown and convert the two-point conversion in order to have a chance. The Eagles led the Patriots 41-33. The Patriots tried to reverse the field on the kickoff, but ended up losing yards, and the drive would start from the nine yard line. On first down, Brady couldn’t connect with Hogan on the right sideline. On second down, Brady threw a pass short, behind James White, and it was incomplete. On third down, Brady nearly avoided a sack and threw an incomplete pass over the middle. On fourth and 10, Brady connected with Amendola over the middle for a first down, and the Patriots spiked the ball with 26 seconds left, and over 70 yards to go. Brady then connected with Gronk on a short pass for another first down, 20 seconds were left in the game. On the next play, Brady once again found Gronk for a first down, 13 seconds left. Brady then threw an incomplete pass, which was nearly picked off on the left sideline, nine seconds left. On the last play of the game, Tom Brady avoided the sack, rolled right, and threw up a hail mary for Rob Gronkowski, and it was batted away, as the Eagles won the Super Bowl. The Eagles won Super Bowl LII, 41-33.
This was an incredible game, from start to finish. There was absolutely no defense played for approximately 98% of the game, resulting in some incredible offensive performances from both quarterbacks. Nick Foles was the MVP of Super Bowl LII, and he deserved it. He followed up his immaculate performance against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship with a damn-near perfect game against the Patriots. Foles went 28/43 with 373 yards passing and three touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass on one of, by far, the ballsiest play calls of all time. He was able to cut through the Patriots’ defense like a hot knife through butter. He was able complete passes to every receiver imaginable, and several of his throws were just absolutely perfect. It was a performance for the ages, and a performance that us football fans will not soon forget.
The Patriots also had some incredible performances, and perhaps none more incredible than the game their 40-year old quarterback had. Tom Brady finished going 28/48 with 505 yards and three touchdowns. His 505 yards through the air is a record number of passing yards for any quarterback in the postseason. He also became the first quarterback in NFL history to have over 10,000 passing yards in the postseason. The Patriots offense was incredible all game, and it was their defense who really let them down. Neither defense played exceptionally well, but both teams forced a turnover. The Patriots intercepted a pass that was bobbled by Alshon Jeffery, and the Eagles forced a game-saving fumble from Tom Brady. One player on the Patriots’ defense that had a good game was Stephon Gilmore, who was able to put the clamps on Alshon Jeffery when he was switched onto him. Tom Brady was incredible throughout the entire game, and his receivers were locked in, but he unfortunately lost Brandin Cooks early in the game due to a head injury. Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Chris Hogan all had over 100 yards receiving, and combined for 396 yards. While the Patriots’ offense was great, the Eagles’ team just played better.
The Eagles’ coaching staff, especially Doug Pederson, had an incredible game. He made some of the ballsiest calls in Super Bowl history. It is absolutely incredible that just nine years ago, he was coaching High School football. He was able to stay aggressive throughout the entire game, and call plays that worked when the team needed them most.
The Philadelphia Eagles were the best, most well-rounded team in football this year, and now they have the trophy to prove it. Congratulations to the Eagles, Super Bowl LII Champions.