MINNEAPOLIS — The Eagles are Super Bowl champions.
Those words have never before been printed, or uttered, in the history of the city of Philadelphia.
It's worth repeating.
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The Eagles are Super Bowl champions.
In the 52nd playing of the classic title bout between the NFC and AFC's best, the Eagles pulled off what seemed like a miracle, besting Brady's finest ever performance en route to a 41-33 win over the Patriots in Minneapolis.
With 5:41 to go in the Super Bowl, with the Eagles trailing by one in the most incredible slugfest in the history of the championship game, Doug Pederson knew he couldn't punt. His defense didn't have a single stop through 55 minutes and there was no reason to believe they'd get another one. So at his own 45 yardline he sent his offense back on the field and Nick Foles fired a short two-yard out to get the first down.
Completed passes to Nelson Agholor put Philly well within kicker Jake Elliott's range, but the clock was the issue. Leave too much time for Brady and the defense would need to pull off a miracle (Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards).
With no fear, and with ample time for a potential Brady comeback, Pederson called a pass play and Foles connected, with Zach Ertz forcing the team to attempt a two point conversion — which failed giving the Eagles a 38-33 lead with 2:21 to play.
One stop. Just one stop. And with Brady dropping back a Brandon Graham strip sack and recovery by Derek Barnett set Philadelphia on fire. A three-and-out didn't hurt, as Elliott's insurance field goal made it an eight point advantage with a minute to go.
Here's what we saw leading up to the Eagles first ever world title:
Meat left on the bone?
Alshon Jeffery made a big third down catch on the Eagles opening drive, going 17 yards to get the Eagles to midfield and Torrey Smith flashed his firm hands snatching a 15 yarder of his own. Corey Clement took a screen 16 yards to get Philly inside the five, but a false start set the Eagles back and a pair of incomplete passes forced the Eagles to settle for a Elliott chip shot field goal.
Slanting left and right the Eagles defense looked soft and uncomfortable as Brady tore down the field in the Pats' opening drive. But the Birds tightened, as New England did, in the red zone forcing a Stephen Gostokowski reply, tying the game at 3-all.
Clement caught a pass for 55 yards on the Eagles' last drive of the half (the longest Super Bowl play in team history), but that was nothing. Making up for the first redzone trip, on fourth down big balls Pederson called a double reverse pass from tight end Trey Burton that was complete for two yards and a touchdown to Foles, to put Philly up 22-12.
Elliott added a 42-yard field goal in the midst of an unprecedented shootout early in the fourth quarter (more on that later) to give the Eagles a six point lead, giving Brady a window to give New England its first lead.
The big play
LeGarrette Blount wanted his old team, and he took a big bite out of his former team's defense on the Eagles' second drive, sprinting 36 yards. Then lightening burst out of a bottle, as Foles unleashed a bomb into the corner of the end zone caught over the shoulder by Jeffery for a 34-yard strike and 9-3 lead (after a missed Elliott extra point try).
Brady didn't like being shown up by Foles, unleashing a 50-yard longshot of his own to Danny Amendola. But the Eagles defense left it there, making a pair of excellent plays with their backs to the end zone as Gostkowski missed his second 26-yarder after a really bad snap.
Passes of 19 and 22 yards to Zach Ertz and Jeffery helped set up a second Eagles touchdown, with Blount daashing 21 yards to find paydirt and a 15-3 (after a two point conversion failed) lead for Philadelphia. But following the point after and kickoff, Rex Burkhead caught a pass and ran 46 yards to get Brady set up inside the Eagles 30. A solid defensive stand forced the Patriots to settle for a 45-yard field goal cut the Eagles lead to 15-6.
As the ball turns
On a promising drive that included a 26-yard run on a draw play for Jay Ajayi, a perfect downfield throw to Jeffery from Foles wound up tipped and intercepted by Buron Harmon, stopping some clear Philadelphia momentum toward the end of the second quarter. The lucky break was almost made irrelevant, but a Brady incompletion was turned into a first down after Jalen Mills was called for holding. Plays later Brady went deep again, finding Chris Hogan for 42 yards and one snap after James White did the rest, galloping 26 yards for a score. A missed kick after had Philly up 15-12.
Rob Gronkowski burst onto the field out of halftime catching four passes for 69 yards the fourth a five-yard touchdown catch to but Philadelphia's lead to three. But a counterpunch — of course — was coming, as Clement lined up next to Foles but ran a streak to the end zone, catching a pass in the back of the end zone in double coverage. Back to a 10-point lead it went, 29-19 Eagles.
Brady responded (are you seeing a trend?) with a 26-yard touchdown to Hogan to cap a seven play 75-yard drive (eclipising the 400 yard mark in the third quarter). And then later in the fourth did it again, to Gronk again, with the extra point putting the Pats ahead for the frst time 33-32.