Photo credit: @Eagles
By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Sunday, February 4, 2018
In his broadcasting days, John Madden often mentioned how “missed extra points have a way of coming back to haunt you.”
In this see-saw edition of the Super Bowl LIII (52), three missed extra point attempts nearly cost the underdog Philadelphia Eagles, but a timely defensive play helped preserve the Eagles’ first NFL title in 57 years.
For the first time since 1960, the Eagles are NFL champions. After two previous Super Bowl losses, the NFC champion Eagles held on and defeated the AFC champion New England Patriots 41-33 in a wild championship game at US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday night.
This was the ninth Super Bowl for New England, which was seeking its sixth NFL title. The Patriots, a slight favorite in what was easily the wildest offensive shootout in Super Bowl history, never punted in the game.
The victory put the icing on the postseason cake for Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles, who was voted the game’s most valuable player.
Foles, a journeyman who contemplated retirement, took over after starter Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury. Foles completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards, three touchdowns and was picked off once. He also caught a key touchdown pass at the end of the first half.
Tom Brady, the Patriots’ 40-year-old quarterback, threw for an NFL postseason record 505 yards on 28 of 48 attempts. Brady also threw three touchdown passes, but his only sack played a key role in the outcome of the game.
With 2:21 left, the Eagles’ Zach Ertz hauled in a pass up the middle from Foles for what was ruled an 11-yard touchdown reception.
Ertz had catch at the goal line, and the play was initially ruled a touchdown, the video review concluded that Ertz had possession as he crossed the plane of the goal line. Philadelphia led 38-33.
On the two-point conversion attempt, Foles’ pass to Corey Clement was incomplete, which seemed to give the Patriots the window of opportunity they needed.
New England’s next possession was thwarted when Tom Brady was strip-sacked by Brandon Graham at 2:09. It was the first sack of the game for either team. Four plays later, Jake Elliott made a 46-yard field goal with 1:05 left, extending the Eagles’ lead to 41-33.
The Patriots were unable to reach the end zone in their final possession, with Brady throwing a Hail Mary incompletion as time expired.
Super Bowl LII was a back-and-forth battle all night. Philadelphia opened the scoring with Elliott’s 25-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. The Patriots responded nearly four minutes later with a Stephen Gostkowski 26-yard field goal.
With 2:34 left in the first quarter, the Eagles surged ahead on Nick Foles’ 34-yard pass to Alshon Jeffrey in the left side of the end zone. Elliott missed the PAT kick, and Philadelphia had a 9-3 lead after one quarter.
The Eagles made it 15-3 when LeGarrette Blount ran 21 yards for a touchdown. Trying to get the missed extra point back, Philadelphia tried a 2-point conversion, but Foles’ pass to Jeffrey was incomplete.
New England cut their deficit to 15-6 at 7:24 of the second quarter when Gostkowski booted a 45-yard field goal. Five minutes later, the Patriots pulled to within 15-12 on a 26-yard touchdown run by James White, but Gostkowski missed the PAT kick.
New England tried a gadget play that had Brady as the intended receiver, but the pass from Danny Amendola was incomplete. With 34 seconds remaining in the first half, the Eagles reached into their bag of tricks on 4th-and-goal from the Patriot 1 yard-line. Lined up in the shotgun, Foles was an eligible receiver and caught Trey Burton’s pass in the end zone.
At halftime, the Eagles led 22-12 – the first time in NFL history a game went into halftime with that score, as reported by NBC.
New England wasted little time finding the end zone in the third quarter. On the Patriots’ opening possession, Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a 5-yard TD, cutting Philadelphia’s lead to 22-19.
On the Eagles’ ensuing possession, Foles completed a 3rd-and-6 pass to Corey Clement at the back of the end zone. After a video review, the play was ruled a touchdown, and Philadelphia led by 10 again at 29-19.
Again, the Patriots marched right back and cut their deficit to 29-26 on Brady’s 26-yard TD pass to Chris Hogan.
Jake Elliott’s 42-yard field goal to open the fourth quarter put Philly up 32-26, but New England took its first lead of the game at 9:22 when Brady and Gronkowski connected for a touchdown for the second time in the game – this time from four yards out. Gostkowski’s extra point put the Pats up 33-32 for their only lead in the contest.
Blount was Philadelphia’s leading ground-gainer, picking up 90 rushing yards on 14 carries. While Clement caught four passes for 100 yards, Nelson Agholor snared nine passes for 84 yards, and Ertz caught seven passes for 67 yards.
Three New England receivers gained over 100 yards through the air. Amendola caught eight passes for 152 yards, Hogan gained 128 receiving yards on six catches, and Gronkowski caught nine passes for 116 yards and two TDs.
Attendance was 67,612. The winners share was $112,000, and the losers share was $56,000.