After watching 51 Superbowls with teams other than the Eagles hoisting the Lombardi Trophy over their heads, Philadelphia finally saw something on Sunday night that all Eagles fans have been waiting their entire lives for: a Super Bowl victory.
Riding the coattails of backup quarterback Nick Foles (an afterthought until Carson Wentz tore his ACL in week 14 of the regular season), the self-proclaimed (and rightfully so) “Underdogs” flew into Minneapolis, marched into US Bank Stadium in front of over 67,000 fans and dethroned the 5-time Champion Patriots, led by arguably the greatest quarterback / head coach duo ever in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Although the Eagles finished with a 13-3 regular season record and the #1 seed in the NFC, they were continually put down by national media and other fan bases.
Along with Wentz, the team lost several other big names to injury – Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, and Jordan Hicks being the biggest ones. Despite the injured reserve list getting longer, the Eagles did the impossible. Not only did they win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, but they defeated what many say is the best dynasty in the history of sports.
The Eagles had control for most of the game, but earning the Lombardi Trophy was no cake walk. The Eagles’ defense allowed Brady to throw for 505 yards, which is now a Super Bowl record. The Patriots did not punt, and three of their receivers – Danny Amandola, Chris Hogan, and Rob Gronkowski – all racked up more than 100 receiving yards and three touchdowns combined. There were seven penalties called in the game – six on the Eagles. Nine times out of 10, these statistics yield a big Patriots win, but Super Bowl 52 told a different story.
The first Eagles victory of the day actually occurred before the game even started. The team ran out onto the field to the tone of Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares,” and went to midfield breaking out in dance. The Patriots chose a more traditional approach, marching out to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” There were already flocks of Eagles fans taking over US Bank Stadium, but the Eagles’ entrance had the fans in attendance on their feet.
Eagles team captains, including Wentz, made their way to midfield for the coin toss, where the Patriots won and deferred to the second half. That’s just how the Patriots like it, but the Eagles did not care. On their first offensive possession, the Eagles took over seven minutes off the clock with a nice 14-play drive capped off with a 25-yard field goal by Jake Elliott.
After the Patriots answered with a field goal of their own, the Eagles responded quickly. Foles found Nelson Agholor for a seven-yard gain, LaGarrette Blount found space and busted for 36 yards. On the very next play, Foles threw his first of three touchdown passes on the night to Alshon Jeffery, who made a spectacular jumping grab to complete the 34-yard score. Elliott missed the extra point, and the game actually ended with three missed kicks between Elliott and Stephen Gostowski – the most in Super Bowl history.
Before the first half was over, the Eagles had scored two more touchdowns – a 21-yard scamper by Blount and a 1-yard pass from Trey Burton to Nick Foles. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that the decision to run the trick play was actually Foles’ idea, and the trickery paid off. The Patriots added 10 more points on a 45-yard Gostowski field goal and a 26-yard touchdown run by James White, giving the Eagles a 22-12 lead at halftime.Five of the first six possessions of the second half ended with a touchdown, with the sixth resulting in a field goal.
Deferring to the second half gave the Patriots the ball first. Brady and company wasted no time, reaching the end zone on a five-yard pass from Brady to Gronkowski. The entire drive went eight plays and lasted less than three minutes, cutting Philly’s lead to three. The Eagles responded with a quick 11-play drive of their own, going 85 yards with the last 22 of them coming on a touchdown pass from Foles to Corey Clement, a play that looked very similar to the Jeffery touchdown in the first quarter.
After the Patriots scored another touchdown – this time a 26-yarder from Brady to Hogan – the back-and-forth touchdown party came to a halt when Elliott’s 42-yard field goal put the Eagles up 32-26 with 14:09 to play in the game.
Only being up six points against New England with almost a quarter of football left gave many Eagles fans a panic attack. That’s more than enough time for Brady to mount a Hall-of-Fame worthy comeback, as evidenced by his second-half brilliance in last year’s Super Bowl, a game in which New England trailed 28-3 in the third quarter. For a while, it seemed like history would repeat itself, as the Patriots took a 33-32 lead after Brady found Gronkowski for four yards and the tight end’s second touchdown reception of the night.
Almost any team or backup quarterback would have cracked under pressure, but St. Nick remained calm and led the Eagles down the field once again. The Eagles tallied five first downs through the air on this drive, and Foles finished it off with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz to give the Eagles the lead back. Throughout the entire game, the Patriots only held a lead for seven minutes and one second.
With the Eagles leading 38-33 with 2:21 remaining in the game, the Patriots got the football back, looking to score without enough time for the Eagles to mount a comeback. After an eight-yard pass from Brady to Gronkowski, Brady dropped back again. As #12 tried to get the ball out, the unthinkable happened. With his arm in motion, Brady was met by Brandon Graham, who knocked the ball out of Brady’s hand before his arm went forward, meaning the football was live. Derek Barnett quickly recovered the fumble, setting the Eagles up on New England’s 31-yard line. The Eagles added another field goal, courtesy of Elliott by 46 yards, to put them up 41-33 with just 1:05 left.
The Patriots needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion to just have a chance at overtime, but after nine plays and a failed hail mary, it was over. For the first time ever, the Philadelphia Eagles were crowned Super Bowl Champions. Nick Foles won the game’s MVP award, players celebrated on the field with their families, and the city of Philadelphia went wild (and still is, as the parade is scheduled for today, Feb. 8).
Some football fans grow up watching teams with five Super Bowl wins under their belt. Other fans experience their team’s first Super Bowl victory before they hit puberty. For all Eagles fans of all ages, this marks the first time in 52 tries that Philadelphia gets their Super Bowl parade. It did not come easy, and it came at the expense of several big names, but the underdogs took down every obstacle possible on an unrelenting quest to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia for the first time.
If we are to take anything away from this 2017-18 Philadelphia Eagles team, it’s that no matter how tough life gets, anything is possible if you keep your eyes on the prize and believe in yourself. The Eagles’ very first Super Bowl parade will take place today, starting on Broad Street in Philadelphia.