One of the NFLs most historically snakebitten clubs ended their 57-year championship drought in the most thrilling way imaginable on Sunday night at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, racing to an early lead against the New England Patriots, going step for step in a track meet with the defending champions and the greatest quarterback ever at his most prolific, falling behind in the fourth quarter and rallying behind the back-up signal-caller who took over in December when the starter went down to injury.
Seventy-four total points. An eye-popping 1,151 yards of combined offense, breaking the previous Super Bowl record before the fourth quarter even started and more than any game in NFL history, regular season or playoffs.
Eagles 41, Patriots 33.
It was one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played and now the Eagles, who were left for dead after losing the franchise quarterback, Carson Wentz, in December, are champions of the NFL for the first time since the Eisenhower administration after winning three straight playoff games as underdogs.
How do you beat the Patriots? You get to Tom Brady. Its been the conventional wisdom for the better part of this NFL generation and nothing had changed as it was repeated ad nauseam during the fortnight run-up to Super Bowl LII.
It took nearly 58 minutes for the Eagles to get there on Sunday night, but the reward once they did will resound down the generations in this proud, provincial town where sports mean a little too much.
With the Eagles nursing a 38-33 lead and just over two minutes left, Philadelphias veteran defensive end Brandon Graham finally recorded the first sack of the game for either side. Brady, the three-time league most valuable player and five-time Super Bowl champion, lost control of the ball, which took a fortuitous bounce into the hands of Derek Barnett. The Eagles settled for a Jake Elliott field goal moments later, setting the stage for a New England desperation drive that ended when Bradys Hail Mary pass to Rob Gronkowski was batted down in the end zone as time expired.
Nick Foles, the 29-year-old understudy who took over for Wentz less than two months ago and who two years ago was mulling retirement, completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards, three passing touchdowns and one more receiving. It will almost certainly be his last game with the Eagles, with Wentz, the quarterback of the future who was the odds-on favorite to win Most Valuable Player honors until his late-season ACL injury, set to return when the 2018 season begins.
Foles numbers didnt match those of Brady, who shattered the Super Bowl single-game passing record with 505 yards through the air, but the 40-year-old quarterbacks final-reel mistake proved fatal for the Patriots, who were looking to add a record-tying sixth Super Bowl title to their five won since 2001.
I felt calm, Foles said in the dizzying aftermath. 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. Weve played this game since we were little kids, we dreamed about this moment. Theres plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment and someday will be here.