There is nothing in sports quite like the finality of losing in a Super Bowl. You immediately are plagued by countless thoughts of all the plays that backfired in your face. The Patriots are no different than any other team in that regard as they failed to capture their third title in four years after falling short in Super Bowl LII 41-33 to the Eagles on Sunday night in Minneapolis.
New England’s offense racked up 613 yards so it’s tough to pin much of this stinging outcome on them but they still had a few moments that they undoubtedly would like back such as Tom Brady dropping that beautifully designed pass from Danny Amendola (8 catches, 152 yards) and Marcus Cannon getting beat by Brandon Graham for a strip sack that basically sealed their fate. Clearly, most of the blame fell on the defense’s shoulders though as they had no answers for Nick Foles and the Eagles’ offense that scored at least seven points in every quarter.
Patriots fans who have worried about kicker Stephen Gostkowski in big games for years had their worst fears renewed against Philadelphia as he missed a 26-yard field goal early in the second quarter, then a point-after later in the same frame. It’s hard to blame the field goal on him as much (even as it hit a goal post and somehow almost went in) since the snap was terrible which totally threw off the mechanics of the whole operation. The PAT was a different story as he just hooked the kick to the left of the upright with no built-in excuse for why that happened in a dome no less.
The dropped pass by Brady was made even more bitter since Philly completed an eerily similar play right before halftime as Nick Foles caught a one-yard touchdown pass from backup tight end Trey Burton (a former college quarterback at Florida). Amendola’s throw could have been better and at Brady’s age (did you know that he’s 40?) with his lack of speed, it wouldn’t have gone for a score but at least a long gain. That drive stalled out on the next play as Brady’s intended pass for tight end Rob Gronkowski (9 catches, 116 yards, 2 TDs) on 4-&-5 was incomplete in Eagles territory.
The three touchdown passes by Foles were all nice throws with multiple Patriots nearby in coverage so the one Philadelphia score that you could probably lament the most was the 21-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount early in the second quarter. For a team that’s usually pretty good against the run and knows all about Blount’s punishing physical style, that was a disgrace as he only had to make a few simple cuts to elude New England’s entire defense.
It was too late anyway but Dion Lewis’ decision to lateral the ball to Rex Burkhead on the final kickoff of the game was another bizarre play by the Patriots. Burkhead held onto the ball but he was tackled at New England’s 9-yard line meaning that they would have to go 91 yards with no timeouts in 58 seconds and score a touchdown plus a two-point conversion just to tie things up and send it to overtime. Lewis is a very good returner, no doubt he could have brought the ball out a little further than that.