MINNEAPOLIS, MN. – Brace yourself folks, the Vince Lombardi Trophy is on its way to Broad Street in the City of Brotherly Love. Led by backup quarterback Nick Foles, and monstrous tight end Zach Ertz, the underdog Philadelphia Eagles did the unthinkable, making history with a 41-33 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Sunday evening, capturing Super Bowl 52 in the process.
In yet another Super Bowl that ended on the game’s final play, Super Bowl 52 once-again re-wrote the history books of the NFL playoffs. The Eagles produced three jaw-dropping highlight-reel touchdown catches – including a gutsy play call from Head Coach Doug Pederson that saw a touchdown toss to Super Bowl 52 Most Valuable Player Nick Foles, and two Philadelphia touchdown catches that survived lengthy video reviews.
Sunday night’s showdown began with musical numbers from Carrie Underwood, Ludacris, Leslie Odom Jr. and Pink, before the attention was turned to a high-scoring first half of football. Justin Timberlake then put on a high-energy, interactive halftime show involving the use of mirrors and a hologram, honouring late singer/musical entertainer Prince in front of the 73,000 fans in attendance.
Following an opening half that saw a dominant Eagles offence, five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady turned up his dial once again, putting together yet another second-half, come-from-behind championship game performance that will not soon be forgotten.
With 505 yards in the air, Brady set an NFL record for the most passing yards by a quarterback in any NFL post-season game. His Patriots also put up the most points ever in Super Bowl history by the losing team.
After already watching his star tight end Rob Gronkowski go down with a concussion for the majority of the AFC Championship game, in which the Patriots proved victorious over the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady once again lost another of his star receivers to a head injury Sunday evening.
After collecting his only catch of the first half, wide receiver and extremely productive downfield target Brandin Cooks was met ferociously by the helmet of safety Malcolm Jenkins in a violent collision that forced the long ball threat from the game.
Interestingly enough, through the 2017-18 season, Cooks recorded 16 catches of 20 yards or more downfield – the most by any teammate of Brady’s in his career. Clearly the loss of Cooks proved substantial.
An eventful second half gave fans a look at two stellar quarterbacks, – offensive juggernauts in their own rights – the game’s one and only quarterback sack/strip, a rookie kicker shining on the world’s largest stage, a Hail Mary end-zone pass, and the most offensive yards ever recorded in an NFL playoff game (1152).
It was a true battle of size as the receiving leaders of both teams, tight end Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles, and the aforementioned Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots put their full bodies of work on display in the final game of the 2017-18 NFL season.
Gronkowski, who had only connected with Brady for one catch and nine total yards in the first half, broke out for a gargantuan second half that included 107 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort. Chris Hogan and Super Bowl 51 MVP James White also secured touchdowns for the Patriots on Sunday.
Ertz put his strength, size and athleticism on full display once again with a seven reception, 67 yard game, highlighted by a somewhat controversial game-winning dive into the end-zone that passed league requirements via video review.
"If they would have overturned that play, I don't know what would have happened to the city of Philadelphia," Ertz said. "But I'm so glad they didn't overturn it."
Ertz’s running mate and starting quarterback Nick Foles – who was thrown into action following the tear of franchise quarterback Carson Wentz’s ACL and LCL in the Eagles’ week 14 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in mid-December – was nothing short of sensational. The 29-year-old Foles quickly took the reigns and guided his offence to their first Super Bowl in franchise history, and first championship since the pre-Super Bowl era (1960).
From backup quarterback to Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles certainly had himself somewhat of an unexpected second half of the 2017-18 season. Through the 2018 playoffs, Foles put together a completion rate of 72.6 percent, 9.1 yards per attempt, six touchdowns, one interception and a 115.7 passer rating – phenomenal statistics.
"To be in this moment is unbelievable,” Foles said immediately following the game. “I mean we have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff. We felt confident coming in and we just went out there and played football.”
And how exactly did Foles hold everything together going up against arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game? Quite easily apparently.
“I felt calm,” he reflected. “We've played this game since we were little kids. We've dreamed about this moment. There's plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment that someday will be here. To be here with my daughter, my wife, my family, my teammates, this city, I'm very blessed."
Ryan Brooks has even more in this Reuters News video report.
Carter Brooks, Manitoba Post
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