In a game that set multiple offensive records, it was a defensive play that guided the underdog Philadelphia Eagles (16-3) over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (15-4) in Minneapolis Sunday night. A crucial Patriots fourth-quarter turnover paved the way for the Eagles to capture the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy since it was founded in 1933.
Philadelphia backup quarterback Nick Foles led a stomach-churning 14-play, 75 yard drive that included a crucial fourth-down conversion and ended with an 11-yard touchdown to Zach Ertz to put the Eagles ahead 38-33. With a little over two minutes to play, it was New England’s turn to respond.
Having already led eleven game-winning postseason drives in his career, the stage was set for Brady to lead his twelvth. However, on the second play of the drive, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham knocked the ball out of Brady’s hand, and the fumble was recovered by defensive end Derek Barnett at the New England 31 yard-line.
After rookie kicker Jake Elliott made a 46-yard field goal to give Philadelphia an 8-point cushion, the Patriots had one final chance. Brady guided New England to midfield, but his desperation pass to Rob Gronkowski fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.
In the loss, Brady set a postseason record for most passing yards in a game with 505, and in the process became the first quarterback in history to eclipse 10,000 postseason passing yards throughout his career. Meanwhile, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
Overall, the game set an all-time NFL record (regular season or postseason) for total yards, with an outstanding 1,151 yards amassed by the two teams.
The Eagles jumped out to a 15-3 lead in the first half thanks to an acrobatic 34-yard touchdown reception by Alshon Jeffery and a 21-yard touchdown run by former Patriot LeGarrette Blount.
The game’s first turning point occurred when Foles was intercepted by Derron Harmon at the New England two yard-line after Jeffery failed to make an acrobatic one-handed catch. The Patriots proceeded to drive 90 yards in 7 plays, capped by a 26-yard touchdown run from Super Bowl 51 hero James White.
The Eagles responded on their ensuing drive thanks to a trick play on fourth-and-goal from the New England one yard-line where running back Corey Clement took a direct snap and pitched it to Trey Burton, who threw it to a wide-open Foles in the end zone to put Philadelphia ahead 22-12 heading into halftime.
After Justin Timberlake treated the crowd at US Bank Stadium to an unforgettable performance, Brady ignited a New England comeback by finding Gronkowski and Chris Hogan, respectively, for touchdowns on the Patriots’ first two second half drives.
New England took their first lead of the game after Brady found Gronkowski yet again in the end zone to put the Patriots ahead 33-32 before Foles’ heroics took center stage.
Both teams’ kickers struggled at times, as Elliott missed an extra point, while Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point as well as a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter. Philadelphia improved to 1-2 in Super Bowls while New England fell to 5-5.