Behind a back-up Quarterback and a defense that made the big play when they needed it, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 to win Super Bowl 52. The game was a shoot-out right from the start; two high-powered offenses going back and forth in a game that seemed like would be decided by whoever had the ball last. And with the Patriots gaining possession with 2:21 left in the 4th quarter, it seemed like another comeback victory was in the works for Tom Brady and company.
Eagles’ Defensive End Brandon Graham had different plans. He beat backup Right Tackle Cameron Fleming and forced a fumble on Brady, which was recovered by rookie Derek Barnett. Already deep in Patriots’ territory, an Eagles’ field goal made it 41-33 and Brady was unable to get New England into the endzone when they got the ball back with 1:05 remaining.
Few expected a barnburner like what wound up happening Sunday night. The Eagles’ would need their punishing defense to limit the Pats’ offensive ability and for Nick Foles and the Philly offense to make few mistakes and put up just enough to win. However, for most of the game, as NBC Commentator Al Michaels put it, the Patriots looked “unstoppable” on offense. Brady marched the offense up and down, utilizing all three areas of the field, short, medium and long, to complete passes.
The running game was also working most of the game for the Pats, averaging 5.1 yards per carry on the ground in total. No team has ever lost the Super Bowl while scoring as many as 33 points. It’s fair to say that the Patriots’ offense won their match-up with the Eagles’ defense, except of course for that back-breaking strip sack that ultimately cost the Patriots a realistic chance at winning.
While Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett teamed to salvage Philly’s porous night on defense, the Eagles’ offense shone brightest all season in a duel with the fifth ranked scoring defense. Backup QB turned Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles was masterful, completing pass after pass on his way to 373 yards and three touchdown passes. In addition to three perfect passing TDs, Foles caught a touchdown as well. scoring on a misdirection play late in the 2nd quarter on 4th and goal when Tight End Trey Burton took a lateral pass and tossed it to Foles, standing all alone in the end zone. Foles’ only big hiccup was an interception that was as much on Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery as it was on Foles.
In addition to a picture-perfect passing game led by Nick Foles, the Eagles’ running game gashed the New England defense continuously, on their way to averaging a crushing 6.1 yards per carry. Philadelphia’s ability to generate consistent yards on the ground all night long kept the Pats’ defense honest and led to an effective play action passing game. Former Patriot LeGarrette Blount haunted the Pats all night long with his bruising rushing style, the 6’0”, 250 lb. bulldozer gaining 90 yards on 14 carries. 21 of those yards came on a touchdown carry that saw Blount batter the Patriot’s defense with nifty agility and sheer power, carrying Safety Duron Harmon into the endzone.
While Philadelphia has reached the football summit, climbing for 57 years, the last time they won an NFL championship, the Patriots have lost the big game for the first time since being upset by the New York Giants back in 2011. This drops Tom Brady’s record in Super Bowls to 5-3. Still, Brady was on fire most of the night, withstanding an effective Eagles pass-rush and tossing dimes to every one of his receivers. Expect him to be back for next season with renewed drive and motivation.