By: Lawrence Dow, Sports Editor (@LJeeeeezy)
Eagles stun Patriots in high-scoring affair
On Sunday, Feb. 4, the Philadelphia Eagles made history when they won their first ever Super Bowl by beating the New England Patriots 41-33. The game was an exhilarating contest from beginning to end, with no team ever trailing by more than 10 points.
This game was the second-highest scoring game in the history of the Super Bowl, trailing only the 1995 contest, a blowout victory for the San Francisco 49ers over the Cincinnati Bengals, by a single point. While second in points scored, this game had the most total yardage in any NFL game ever. The high octane offensive game came down to which team’s defense could make a stop and Philadelphia’s answered the call when Brandon Graham rushed from the inside position and strip sacked an unaware Tom Brady. The Eagles would go on to add a field goal, ostensibly ending the game.
The Eagles led or were tied for the lead for almost the entirety of the game, opening the game with a 14-play, 67-yard drive that culminated in a field goal. The Patriots would respond on the following drive and then the offenses took over the show. The Eagles scored two touchdowns in consecutive possessions, one a beautiful 34-yard pass from Nick Foles to Alshon Jeffery and the other a bruising 21-yard run to make the score 15-3. The Patriots responded to the Eagles with two straight scores of their own, a field goal and a 26-yard rushing touchdown from James White with 2 minutes and 57 seconds remaining in the half. This would cut down the lead to 12-15. The Eagles scored one last time in the half, racing down the field in a 70-yard, seven-play drive that would culminate with a double handoff pass to the quarterback for a touchdown on fourth and one. The Eagles led 22-12 at halftime before a lackluster halftime performance by Justin Timberlake.
After a quiet first half, Rob Gronkowski woke up at halftime and dominated the Patriots’ opening drive, culminating with him catching a five-yard touchdown. Nick Foles, undaunted by the prospect of playing one of the greatest football dynasties of all time, continued to throw the ball with accuracy on his next drive, which ended on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Foles to Corey Clement, pushing the lead back up to 10. Tom Brady, who at this point was already having one of his best Super Bowls statistically before the third quarter was even over, threw one more touchdown to Chris Hogan to finally cut the Eagles’ lead down to three once again before heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Patriots offense, which hadn’t been stopped for the entire second half, finally took their first lead with another touchdown for Gronkowski, this one going for four yards. That gave New England a 34-33 lead with a little over nine minutes remaining. Foles, having one of the most magical postseason runs of all time, would not be stopped on this day and went on a devastatingly efficient 14-play, 75-yard drive that took seven minutes and one second off the clock, leaving the Patriots with two minutes and 21 seconds remaining and the Eagles clinging to a 38-33 lead.
Everyone had seen this game before: with over two minutes and all of his timeouts left, Brady would march down the field and dissect the Eagles defense and score, and the Patriots would win their sixth Super Bowl. However prevalent that thought ran through the heads of Patriots and Eagles fans alike, the reality would be far from it. Brandon Graham, on the second play of the Patriots drive, stripped Tom Brady, and rookie Derek Barnett scooped the ball up. After three unsuccessful runs, the Eagles sent out their kicker Jake Elliott to make one more kick. Elliot would nail a 46-yard field goal, putting the Eagles up eight points with only one minute remaining.
The Patriots on their final possession would get two first downs to reach midfield, but would need a miracle on a Hail Mary to have any chance of taking it to overtime. To his credit, Brady launched a near perfect Hail Mary to Gronkowski, who couldn’t bring it in, and the celebrating in Philadelphia commenced. The Eagles won by a final score of 41-33 in one of the more exhilarating Super Bowls of all time.
MVP of the game would go to Nick Foles, who threw for 373 yards, three passing touchdowns, and one receiving touchdown. Foles, who was Philadelphia’s backup until Carson Wentz went down with a season ending ACL tear, became the first backup to win since Tom Brady himself. This was the first ever Super Bowl victory for the Philadelphia Eagles, which capped off a magical season that will not soon be forgotten.