MINNEAPOLIS–The Philadelphia Eagles upset the National Football League’s defending champion New England Patriots 41-33 in a back-and-forth clash on Sunday to capture their maiden Super Bowl title.
For the Eagles, who previously lost title games in 1981 and 2005, the win capped a remarkable late-season charge that most observers considered unthinkable when starting quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending injury in December.
The Eagles, trailing by a point late in the fourth quarter, moved ahead for good when quarterback Nick Foles connected with tight end Zach Ertz on a 11-yard touchdown that held up after a review determined the catch was good to put his team 38-33 up.
“If they had overturned that (touchdown) I don’t know what would have happened to the city of Philadelphia but I’m so glad they didn’t overturn it,” Ertz said in a post-game interview conducted on a field covered in silver and green confetti.
Philadelphia missed a subsequent two-point conversion attempt to leave the door open for the Patriots with a little less than two-and-a-half minutes to play.
But in a game when both offenses moved up and down the field effortlessly, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had the ball swatted from his grasp by Brandon Graham and Philadelphia’s Derek Barnett recovered the fumble.
The Eagles went on to kick a field goal to extend their lead to eight points and denied the Patriots from engineering a last-minute, game-tying drive.
Foles, making his Super Bowl debut, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after completing 28-of-43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns, along with one interception.
“I am speechless,” Foles said after the game. “To be a part of this organization, to be in this moment is something you dream about as a kid.”
Up 15-6, the Eagles had a chance to build a comfortable lead towards the end of the first half but intended receiver Alshon Jeffrey deflected a Foles pass that was intercepted by Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon steps from the end zone.
The turnover proved costly as the Patriots marched 90 yards back down the field in less than three minutes, in a drive that was capped by a James White touchdown to pull within 15-12.
However, the Eagles replied with an impressive drive of their own that resulted in a touchdown on a gutsy trick play on fourth down from the Patriots one-yard line.
The Eagles, opting not to kick a field goal, snapped the ball to rookie running back Corey Clement, who flipped the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who then threw to a wide-open Foles for a walk-in touchdown and a 22-12 halftime lead.
It marked the end of a wild opening half that included missed extra points, a missed field goal and a botched Patriots attempt at a trick play of their own when a wide-open Brady dropped an intended pass.
The teams, who combined for a whopping Super Bowl record 1,151 yards, kept up the relentless offensive pace in the second half and the Eagles refused to back down even when the Patriots grabbed their first lead with nine minutes to play.
“Credit to the Eagles. They deserved it,” Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski conceded. “It stinks. You put all that hard work in all year.”
By Frank Pingue