By Henry Fletcher
The Philadelphia Eagles have not just accomplished the greatest feat in pro football in winning a championship but they have also defeated arguably the greatest dynasty in football… with a backup quarterback.
Carson Wentz, the starting quarterback for the Eagles who was on pace to become league MVP, suffered a torn ACL against the Los Angeles Rams in week 14 forcing backup Nick Foles into the starting position.
The Patriots entered Super Bowl 52 as the favorite and were backed by a vast majority of NFL analysts doubting the ability of Foles to perform on this type of stage.
What followed was the NFL record for most yards in a game by two teams (1,151) breaking an age old record from a matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Yanks (1,133) in the 1950’s.
The Eagles received the opening kickoff and ended their first drive in a red zone field goal. The Patriots followed up the Eagles drive with a red zone field goal of their own.
To score the first touchdown of the game Nick Foles threw a beauty to Alshon Jeffrey in the back of the end zone off play action to give the Eagles a 9-0 lead. Eagles kicker Jake Elliot missed the ensuing PAT.
The second quarter was much more touchdown saturated with the Eagles scoring two and the Patriots scoring one.
The highlight of the second quarter, and the game, was the Eagles gutsy 4th and goal call by Head coach Doug Peterson from the one yard line with 38 seconds remaining in the half. The Eagles held a 15-12 lead and the Patriots would receive the ball after halftime.
The play design was brilliant as Foles fakes as if he were calling an audible while the ball was snapped to running back Corey Clement who then tossed to tight end Trey Burton who then threw a touchdown pass to Foles. This gave the Eagles a crucial 22-12 lead at half.
The Patriots first drive of the second half was the Brady to Rob Gronkowski show as they effortlessly drove the field and scored a touchdown in three minutes to shorten the Eagles lead to 22-19.
Nick Foles followed up the Patriots impressive drive with one of his own as he capped it off with a perfect throw to running back Corey Clement in the back of the end zone over two defenders to re-establish their ten point lead.
Following a Brady to Chris Hogan touchdown pass, the fourth quarter began with the Eagles leading 29-26.
A Jake Elliot Field goal increased the Eagles lead to 32-26 but a quick Rob Gronkowski touchdown gave the Patriots their first lead of the game at 32-33.
Nick Foles and co. then mounted a crucial fourth quarter drive to hit tight end Zach Ertz for a touchdown giving the Eagles a 38-33 lead with 2:21 to play.
Of course, like anyone who remotely knows what football is, knows that if Tom Brady is down with two minutes left it’s almost a done deal.
But in a game where there was virtually no defense, the game sealing play was by the Eagles defense.
As Brady dropped back to pass, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham blew up patriots guard, and Georgia Tech alumni, Shaq Mason to strip sack Brady. The fumble was recovered by defensive end Derek Barnett.
The Eagles capped off the turnover with another Elliot field goal forcing the Patriots into emergency Hail Mary mode down 41-33.
On the final play of the game, Tom Brady desperately heaved the ball into the end zone for Gronkowski but the tight end could not out-jump the Eagles secondary.
The game ended 41-33 going down as the most offensively explosive Super Bowl AND NFL game in history.
On the win, a scratchy voiced Peterson exclaimed “I can’t tell you how happy I am! World champions! World champions! This is what you’ve accomplished—for this moment right here!” He then said: “An individual can make a difference, but a team makes a miracle!”
The most unlikely hero, Nick Foles, was named MVP as he passed for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns.
“I think the big thing that helped me was knowing that I didn’t have to be superman. I have amazing teammates, amazing coaches around me. And all I had to do was just go play as hard as I could, and play for one another, and play for those guys” Foles said in the post-game press conference.
Despite the loss, the Patriots put up a Super Bowl-record 613 yards behind Tom Brady playing one of the best games of his life. Brady also broke his former Super Bowl record with 505 yards passing.
The Patriots are already favored in Las Vegas to win Super Bowl LIII but until then, Philadelphia, you are Super Bowl champions.
The football focus now shifts to upcoming free agency, the NFL combine, and the NFL draft.