For the first time in franchise history, the Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions.
The Eagles were underdogs in each of their three postseason games, but that didn’t stop them from reaching he highest of highs.
The team were the underdogs in all of their matchups due to MVP-candidate Carson Wentz suffering a torn ACL with three games remaining in the regular season. Nick Foles took over the reins and the Eagles didn’t miss a beat.
Foles was spectacular in the Super Bowl and took home the MVP honors. He completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He even caught a touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton. Yes, you read that correctly; Nick Foles caught a touchdown pass from a tight end in the Super Bowl. In fact, Foles became the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to catch a touchdown pass.
Head coach Doug Pederson did not hold back in his play calling and didn’t hesitate to let Foles run the offense as if Wentz were still on the field. On two separate occasions, Pederson elected to go for it on fourth-and-one, and on both occasions, Foles and company moved the chains.
The first came on a fourth-and-goal from the one with 34 seconds left in the first half, when Foles caught the pass from Burton. The second, which was one of the biggest plays of the game, came with 5:39 remaining and Philadelphia on their own 45-yard line, trailing 33-32. Pederson went for it and Foles, who lined up in the shotgun, found tight end Zach Ertz over the middle for two yards to extend the drive.
The Eagles went on to take a 38-33 lead when Foles found Ertz on a play that was reviewed due to the catch rule. After review, the referees determined Ertz caught the pass and then became a runner before diving across the goal line. The ball bounced off the ground, but the play was over once Ertz crossed the goal line.
Foles did a tremendous job of spreading the ball around. Running back Corey Clement caught four passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Nelson Agholor caught nine passes for 84 yards, Ertz finished with seven catches for 67 yards and the game-winning score, Torey Smith caught five balls for 49 yards.
The running back tandem of LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi combined to rush for 147 and a score from Blount.
Speaking of Blount, he and teammate Chris Long became just the third and fourth players in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls with two different teams, as the were both members of the Patriots a season ago.
Tom Brady was masterful in defeat
If you knew going into the game that Tom Brady would throw for over 500-yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions, you likely would have thought that the Patriots would win handedly and win their sixth Super Bowl.
However, that was not in the cards in Minneapolis on Sunday night.
Brady finished 28-48, for 505 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Eagles defensive line was constantly getting pressure on Brady, which to his credit he escaped most of the night, until the biggest play in Philadelphia Eagles history happened.
After Foles found Ertz for the touchdown (the two-point conversion failed) the Eagles went up 38-33 with 2:21 left on the clock. Now, watching this game, you would have had to have been under the impression that Brady would march his team down the field for a game-winning drive.
Two plays after taking over, Brady was strip-sacked by defensive end Brandon Graham and the Eagles recovered in Patriots territory. Foles and company would milk the clock before rookie kicker Jake Elliott would nail his third field goal of the game to put Philly up 41-33.
Brady got the ball back with just over a minute left, hoping to march down the field and try and force overtime. He led the team 40 yards in nine plays and then had one final Hail Mary attempt batted down as time expired.
Earlier in the game, the Patriots ran a similar trick play to what the Eagles did with Foles catching the touchdown pass, but the only difference in this play was Brady dropped the pass from Danny Amendola. Speaking of Amendola, he was a favorite target of Brady’s, catching eight passes for 152 yards.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski had a monster game after the status of him playing was up in the air after suffering a concussion in the AFC Championship game against the Jaguars. He finished with nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Hogan caught six balls for 128 yards and a score. Brandin Cooks only caught a 26-yard pass, but left the game in the second quarter after a hellacious hit from Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, and did not return.
That was a huge blow to the Patriots, but was not the deciding factor in the game. The biggest factor of the game was the defensive pressure of the Eagles on Brady.
Pederson went toe-to-toe with arguably the best coach in football history in Bill Belichick and came out victorious. He is the first person ever to beat Belichick as a player (quarterback of the Browns in 2000) and now as a head coach. He was brilliantly gutsy and confident in his play calling and even more confident in his players.
To go from losing their MVP to winning the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback is simply remarkable. Now what lies ahead for Philadelphia? Well, more success should be on the horizon as a healthy portion of the team is under contract through the 2020 season, including Wentz, who seems like he will be ready to open the 2018 season as the starter.
Should there be a quarterback controversy? No, there shouldn’t be, as Wentz is the quarterback of the future and Foles proved to be a suitable backup, who showed he can go out and perform on the biggest stage.
Conspicuous by his absence was Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, the hero of Super Bowl 49. Belichick decided not to play Butler, which was odd, as he played in 97.8 percent of defensive snaps in the regular season. There were many rumored reports as to why Butler did not play and when this information was known within the organization. Regardless, Belichick benched him when he could have played a factor in the game.
So what’s next for New England? Well for starters, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will return to the team in 2018. McDaniels had agreed to become the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, but on Tuesday, he decided to decline the offer and remain with the Patriots. This is after the Patriots lost defensive coordinator, Mike Patricia, who accepted an offer from the Detroit Lions to become their new head coach.
Adam Schefter, who broke the news regarding McDaniels said that Patriots owner Robert Kraft met with McDaniels and sweetened his offer to entice him to stay with the team. Another reason is the fact McDaniels didn’t want to move his family.
Schefter also said that he received a text from a league source saying “That’s Kraft putting it to the Colts again. He will forever try and (expletive) that place ever since deflate gate.”
Could this mean that McDaniels is the heir apparent to Belichick, should he decide to retire in the coming years? Quite possibly, but one thing is for certain, Belichick will be back to coach New England in 2018. If Tom Brady does play until he is 45-years old, he could possibly have McDaniels as his head coach for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.
This could very well be the start of an Eagles dynasty. If you are thinking this could be the end of the Patriots dynasty, well as long as Tom Brady is running the offense at such a high level, this team will be in the mix.