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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions for the first time in their 85-year history, defeating the New England Patriots 41-33 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The first football championship for the “City of Brotherly Love” since 1960. A win which seemed most improbable when in week 15 of the regular season, starting QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL and gave way for journeyman passer Nick Foles.
During the 3-game playoff stint in which Foles was under center for, he accumulated 1,166 yards, 8 TDs and only 1 INT. He also has one of the highest playoff passer ratings in NFL history with 113.2 and a completion percentage of 71.94, even going as far to catch a touchdown pass himself. Foles finished the game with 28 completions, 373 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT.
For a majority of the game the Eagles had the momentum, scoring at least 7 points in each quarter. The catalyst for the Eagles’ scoring onslaught was WR Alshon Jeffery who made an acrobatic catch in the End Zone for Philly’s first score of the game.
Oppositely, the New England Patriots were fighting from behind for most of the game, losing their best receiver Brandin Cooks in the first quarter after he took a blow to the head from Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Tom Brady continued to build on his reputation of comeback artist by bringing his team within a score of tying the game in the final few minutes, but ultimately fell short on the Hail Mary attempt at the end of the contest.
Brady finished the game with a Super Bowl record 505 passing yards against an Eagles defense that had been ranked 4th in total defense, 1st against the run, but 17th against the pass in the regular season. Brady found his leading receiver Danny Amendola 8 times for 152 yards. WR Chris Hogan and TE Rob Gronkowski weren’t far behind with 6-for-128 and 9-for-116 respectively.
The much-maligned Patriots defense (20th against the run, 30th against the pass) looked as vulnerable against the Eagles as they had all season, despite their 13-3 record. A major storyline after the Super Bowl was the benching of starting CB Malcolm Butler, who’s true reason for being benched is still unknown to folks outside of the Patriots building.
In the final minutes of the game, Philly’s defense stood up to the Patriots’ offense when DE Brandon Graham sacked Tom Brady and forced a fumble which was recovered by rookie DE Derek Barnett and essentially sealed the game. In an offensive shootout like the one that was seen in this Super Bowl, it wasn’t surprising that the determining play came from the defense, and the Eagles capitalized first.
The Eagles returned home to millions of fans awaiting their arrival, while the Patriots returned home to a handful of people. “Everyone loves a winner, nobody likes a loser” says Gerry Sandusky, sports anchor at WBAL TV-11.
The new NFL league year begins on March 14th and both Super Bowl participants will be looking to supplement their teams in Free Agency and the NFL Draft.
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Sources – NFL.com, Pro-football-reference.com, Philadelphiaeagles.com