SUPER BOWL LII: Philly, Philly! Eagles soar past Patriots for first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history

MINNEAPOLIS – Down five points with 2:21 left, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots seemed destined to write another comeback story with its final drive.

The Philadelphia Eagles defensive front decided to write a different ending.

On the second play from scrimmage on the drive, Brady dropped back to pass, but Philadelphia caused a breakdown in New England’s offensive line and jarred the ball loose from Brady’s grasp, recovering it in the process. The Eagles then marched down and kicked a field goal to go up 41-33 with 1:05 left, sending Patriots fans into utter disbelief.

The Patriots had one final opportunity to get the tying score, but Brady’s desperation pass fell short, and the Eagles knocked off the reigning champ Patriots 41-33 to win Super Bowl LII Sunday night at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

For the first time in franchise history, the Eagles, who had lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz to season-ending surgery midseason, found a way to win a title. With Nick Foles guiding the helm, and the defense playing at its best level this season, Philadelphia knew it had to deliver the right punches in the right moments if it wanted to compete with the Patriots. And they did.

Foles, the Super Bowl MVP, finished with a mark of 28 of 43 while passing for 373 yards and three scores. Brady finished with 28 of 48 passing for 505 yards and three scores as well.

Foles said their team continued to fight all season long and that it was evident in their performance Sunday.

“It was a hard-fought game; New England is a tremendous team and has one of the greatest quarterbacks and coaches of all time. Our team all year just fights and keeps leaning on each other. That’s what this season has been about,” Foles said. “That locker room is a special locker room and you could see it throughout the course of this game. To be in this moment, it’s unbelievable.”

The 74 total points were the most in Super Bowl history, and both teams showed it right from the start.

The Patriots won the coin toss and deferred, giving the Eagles the ball to start things off. Philadelphia began its drive with three straight passes including a big strike from quarterback Nick Foles to Alshon Jeffrey to put the Eagles on their own 49-yard line. The Eagles continued to drive the ball downfield, and got it to within the Patriots five on a pass to Corey Clement. But a false start and two consecutive incompletions forced Philadelphia to kick a field goal from Jake Elliott for the early 3-0 lead.

New England then took its first drive of the night, with Brady quickly firing on all cylinders. The Patriots quarterback found James White for a big gain before connecting with Chris Hogan on a pair of passes and then found tight end Rob Gronkowski for another first down.

A few plays later, New England had an opportunity to strike from the Philadelphia eight-yard line on third and four, but the highly touted Eagles defense came up with a stop of their own, forcing a short field goal from Stephen Gostkowski to tie things up at 3-3 with 4:17 left in the opening quarter.

Philadelphia wasted no time on its second possession, as running back LeGarrette Blount bounced to the outside and burst for a lengthy run to the Patriots 34-yard line on second down and three. One play later, Foles dropped back and delivered a rainbow throw towards the back of the end zone. Jeffrey raced behind his defender and soared through the air for the grab before falling out-of-bounds for the first touchdown of the night. But Elliott’s extra point attempt went wide, and the Eagles took a 9-3 lead with a little under three minutes remaining.

The Patriots had some trouble early on in their ensuing possession, as a false start backed up New England to its own 21-yard line. But Brady calmly stepped up and found a wide open Danny Amendola for 51 yards to put the Patriots inside Eagles territory. New England then opened up the second quarter by driving further into Philadelphia’s red zone, but was forced to another field goal attempt. This time the kick from Gostkowski failed to hit the mark, as it rather hit the left upright.

The Eagles couldn’t capitalize on the Patriots’ miscue, as New England’s defense stood tall and forced the first punt of the game between the two teams. The Patriots offense then took a big hit when wide receiver Brandin Cooks hauled in a catch before enduring a massive hit to the helmet from Malcolm Jenkins. Cooks was then taken out of the game and was treated for concussion-like symptoms and never returned.

The Patriots then tried to trick Philadelphia when Brady went out for a pass, but the throw went just over the outstretched hands of the quarterback, and New England turned it over on downs.

Philadelphia quickly marched down on its next possession, getting a big pass from Foles to Jeffrey before Blount rumbled his way for the 21-yard score. The two-point conversion was no good, but the Eagles took a 15-3 lead with 8:48 left in the first half.

The Patriots had an answer of their own, however, as Brady found Rex Burkhead, who nearly broke free for the big score but was tripped up near the Eagles 30-yard line. The Philadelphia defense then forced New England into yet another third and long situation, which Brady failed to convert, and the Patriots settled for another Gostkowski field goal to make it 15-6.

Philadelphia looked as if it was set for another scoring drive, as Ajayi broke free for a big gain into Patriot territory, but a bobbled catch from the Eagles resulted into a key interception for New England. The Patriots then got a big throw from Brady that found the hands of Hogan for a huge gain before White received the ensuing handoff and bounced and weaved his way into the end zone for the score. But another miss from the leg of Gostkowski kept it at a three-point lead for the Eagles with 2:04 left in the first half, the third missed kick of the game and second from the Patriots long-time kicker.

The Eagles looked to strike one final time before the halftime break, and got what they were looking for. After a pass to Zach Ertz from Foles, Clement broke free for a long catch-and-run all the way down to the New England nine-yard line. But the Patriots held the Eagles to a fourth and one from New England’s one-yard line with 38 ticks on the clock. Philadelphia elected to go for it, and on a razzle-dazzle play, Foles found himself wide open in the end zone and hauled in the touchdown pass, putting the Eagles up 22-12 with 0:34 seconds left and sending the Philadelphia fanatics into a frenzy.

New England had one final shot to end the half, but Brady’s screen pass couldn’t connect for a score, and the Patriots went into the locker room down 10.

Despite getting knocked around in the first half, the Patriots were the ones to deliver a punch to start the third. Brady drove New England down the length of the field before finding Gronkowski for his first passing touchdown of the day, cutting the Eagles lead to just three at 22-19 early in the second half.

Foles wasn’t going to let Brady and the Pats scare him from orchestrating another deep drive, as he led the Eagles to yet another score, this one coming on another perfect strike to Clement, pushing Philadelphia’s lead back to double digits at 29-19 with 7:18 left in the third.

Brady answered right back again, marching downfield and found Hogan on a 26-yarder, who took advantage of the lack of defense from the Eagles for the score to cut the deficit to three again at 29-26.

The high-octane pace continued on the Eagles’ next possession as Philadelphia only needed a couple of plays to suddenly find itself deep in Patriots territory with under a minute left in the third. It went into the early part of the fourth, but Philadelphia capped off the drive with a field goal from Elliott to make it a 32-26 game.

New England stayed relentless, though, as Brady used Burkhead to get near midfield before delivering to Amendola to get into the red zone. Brady then connected with Gronkowski on a fade route in the corner for the score two plays later. All of a sudden, the Eagles lead that has stood for the entirety of the game was gone.

Now trailing for the first time, the Eagles looked for answer. But after seeing success on third down conversions, Philadelphia was forced into a fourth down situation. Foles and the Eagles gambled and went for it, and a short pass to Ertz paid off, with Philadelphia extending not only its drive but its season in the process.

Foles then found Nelson Agholor on a tight window strike between a pair of Patriot defenders, and the Eagles pushed the drive deeper into New England territory. On third and seven, Foles dropped back and found Ertz on a slant, who dove across the goal line for the score to put the Eagles back in front. The play went under review as to whether it was a catch or not, and it was deemed a catch.

But once again, Eagles coach Doug Pederson elected to go for the two-point conversion and Foles’ pass couldn’t find the mark, making it a 38-33 Philadelphia lead with 2:21 left, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.

Pederson said their fans have shown tremendous support for so long and they deserve every bit of the championship as much as the players and coaches do.

“Our fans have waited a long time for this. To be a part of it and to obviously bring back the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia is special,” Pederson said. “I can’t wait to get back there and celebrate with our fans.”

The Patriots outgained the Eagles in total yards, 613-538, including a 500-374 advantage in passing. Agholor led Philadelphia in receiving with nine catches for 84 yards while Ertz had seven grabs for 67 yards and the go-ahead score. Gronkowski led New England with nine catches and 116 yards and two touchdowns while White added 45 yards on the ground and a score.

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