Ryan L. Fox
It was one year ago that the New England Patriots pulled off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history when they defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in Super Bowl LI down in Houston, Texas. Fast forward to last Sunday night in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Patriots were back on the big stage this time facing off the Philadelphia Eagles. But when the final gun was sound and the clock read 00:00, it was the Eagles who were the ones who celebrated and hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy.
The Patriots won the opening toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Eagles brought the ball back to their. From there, QB Nick Foles drove the team down the field with a lot of dink-and-dunk passes to keep the Patriots defense on their heels. The Eagles drove all the way down to the New England 1. However a false start penalty drove them back to the 6-yard line and after 2 straight incomplete passes, the Eagles had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by K Jake Elliot.
The Patriots began their opening drive at their own 25 as QB Tom Brady began to work his magic. Using his trademark ‘hurry-up’ offense, Brady barraged the Eagles with an assortment of passes all over the field. They were able to drive all the way down to the Philadelphia 8. However the Eagles defense held up, forcing the Patriots to settle for a 26-yard field goal by K Stephen Gostkowski to tie things up at 3-3 with 4:17 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles got the ball back on their own 23 after the ensuing kickoff. However unlike the previous drive that took 14 plays, the Eagles took only three plays. This included a 36-yard run from the Philadelphia 30 all the way to the New England 34. From there, Foles found WR Alshon Jeffery for a 34-yard bomb. However Elliot missed the extra point as the Eagles lead was 9-3.
The Patriots got the ball back at their 18 for their second drive of the game. They got to the ball to the 26 where on 3rd and 7, Brady found WR Danny Amendola for a 50-yard bomb that put the ball at the Philadelphia 29. The Patriots then drove all way down to the Philadelphia 9 where the 1st quarter ended.
The Patriots opened up the 2nd quarter with getting stuffed on 3rd down. Then on 4th and 1, LS Joe Cardona had a bad snap, holder Ryan Allen couldn’t field the ball cleanly, and Gostkowski ended up clunking the ball on the left upright.
However the Patriots defense forced the Eagles to punt on the ensuing possession and got the ball back on their 37. On the first play, Brady found WR Brandin Cooks for a 23-yard pass to the Philadelphia 40. However Cooks did not see Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins and got lit up, getting knocked out of the game. The Patriots could only manage to get to the Eagles 35 but then on 4th and 5, Brady’s pass to TE Rob Gronkowski fell incomplete.
The Eagles got the ball back on their 35 and then proceeded to drive down the field. This included a 19-yard pass from Foles to TE Zach Etrz to the New England 43. Then Foles floated an over-the shoulder 22-yard pass to Jeffery down to the New England 21. Then on the next play, RB LeGarrette Blount bowled his way into the end zone for a 21–yard run to put his team up 15-3. However the Eagles missed the two-point conversion as the score remained 15-3.
The Patriots then opened things up on the ensuing possession with a quick pass to RB Rex Burkhead. Burkhead then rumbled his way 46 yards all the way down to the Philadelphia 29. But then after three straight incompletions, the Patriots had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Gostkowski to make it 15-6.
The Patriots defense then got their first break. On 1st and 10 from the New England 42, Foles’s looked deep for Jeffery. However the receiver bobbled the ball into the air as Patriots SS Duron Harmon came up with the ball, bringing it back to the New England 10. From there, they drove all the way down to the Philadelphia 26 where RB James White rumbled and stumbled his way into the end zone. Gostkowski ended up missing the extra point again as the score was 15-12.
The Eagles were able to get the ball back, starting off on their own 30 with 2 minutes left in the half. Foles then engineered a drive, getting all the way down to the New England 1. After an incomplete pass on 3rd and goal, the Eagles decided to go for it. However it ended up being a trick play for the ages. First it was RB Corey Clement that took the snap as he flipped it to backup TE Trey Burton, who then threw the ball to Foles for a 1-yard touchdown pass. Elliot booted the extra point through as it was 22-12 with 34 seconds left in the half.
The Patriots opened the second half with the ball, starting from their own 25. After seemingly being off key with his tight end throughout the first half, Brady found Gronkowski for 2 straight catches for 49 yards. Gronk then added another catch (a 14-yard one) on 3rd and 6 to keep the drive alive down to the Philadelphia 9. After a James White 3-yard run, Brady found Gronk for a 6-yard touchdown pass to give the Patriots the first score of the second half. Gostkowski booted the extra point through as the score was 22-19.
The Eagles then got the ball back and began their first drive of the 2nd half at their own. Mixing in with the running attack of Blount and teammate RB Jay Ajayi, the Eagles offense methodically drove down the field. They were able to get down to the New England 22 where on 3rd and 6, it looked like Foles found Clement for a 22-yard score. After further review, the referees agreed that it was a catch. Elliot booted the extra point through as the Eagles went up 29-19 with 7:18 left in the third quarter.
After getting the ball back on their 25-yard line, Tom Brady led the Patriots offense down the field. This time it was Amendola and fellow WR Chris Hogan that were on the receiving end of most of Brady’s passes, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Hogan from Brady. Gostkowski kicked the extra point through as it was 29-26 with 3:23 left in the 3rd quarter.
But then on the opening play of the 4th quarter, the Patriots defense got the big time stop they needed since the interception in the second quarter. Patriots LB Eric Flowers blew up a Foles swing pass to Clement, forcing the Eagles to settle for an Elliot 42-yard field goal to go up 32-26 with a little over 14 minutes left in the game.
That last drive that ended in a field goal for the Eagles proved to be very costly. On the ensuing drive, Tom Brady kept finding Amendola for big pass play after big pass play. Then on 2nd and goal from the Philadelphia 4, Brady found Gronkowski in the back left corner of the end zone for the touchdown to tie things up 32-32. Gostkowski booted the extra point through to give the Patriots their first lead of the game, 33-32 with 9:22 left in the game.
With time running out, the Eagles offense took the field starting at their own 25. With each play they made, time continued to tick off the clock. After converting a crucial 4th and short on their own 45, Foles started to get into a groove. The Eagles got all the way down to the New England 11, where on 3rd and 7 Foles found Ertz for what appeared to be an 11-yard touchdown. Upon further review, the touchdown stood as the Eagles went up 38-33. However the 2-point conversion failed as the scored remained 38-33 with 2:21 left in the game.
However that was way too much time left in the game. Beginning the final drive of the game at their own 25, Brady found Gronk for a quick pass. But then on the following play, Brady dropped back to pass and felt the pass rush. Then out of nowhere, Eagles DE Brandon Graham stripped the ball out of Brady’s hands. Teammate DE Derek Barnett scooped the ball up to give the Eagles possession at the New England 29.
Instead of going for the jugular, the Eagles decided to play it safe and rush the ball and run the clock down as far as possible. They ended up settling for a 46-yard field by Elliot to go up 41-33 with 1:05 left in the game.
The Patriots got the ball back with 58 seconds left on their own 9-yard line. After 3 straight incomplete passes, Brady found Amendola for a 13-yard gain on 4th and 10 to their own 22. Two straight completions to Gronk then gave the Patriots 1st and 10 on their own 49 with 13 seconds left in the game. Another incomplete pass then forced Brady to just chuck the ball on the last play of the game in hopes of trying to get into the end zone. However Brady’s last pass fell incomplete as the Philadelphia Eagles were the ones to hoist the Lombardi while the Patriots could only watch.
Top Patriot Performers
QB Tom Brady: 28-for-48 for 505 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, and 1 fumble lost for QB rating of 131.1
RB James White: 7 carries for 45 yards and 1 TD, 2 catches for 21 yards
WR Danny Amendola: 0-for-1, 7 catches for 139 yards
WR Chris Hogan: 6 catches for 128 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: 6 catches for 81 yards and 2 TDs
Records Were Meant to Be Broken
Whether you were a fan of the Eagles, Patriots, or hated both teams with an undying passion, this was one game that you could not turn away from. It was a classic back-and-forth that came down to the wire and made you sit at the edge of your seats. During this game, it was noted that 17 new Super Bowl records were set.
The new records that were set, as compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau, were the following:
Most Super Bowl Game Appearances, Player -- 8, Tom Brady
Most Super Bowl Game Appearances, Head Coach -- 8, Bill Belichick
Most Super Bowl Pass Attempts, Career -- 357, Tom Brady
Most Super Bowl Pass Completions, Career – 235, Tom Brady
Most Super Bowl Passing Yards, Career – 2,576, Tom Brady
Most Super Bowl Passing Yards, Game – 505, Tom Brady
Most Super Bowl Touchdown Passes, Career – 18, Tom Brady
Most Super Bowl Game Appearances, Team – 10, New England
Most Points Scored by a Losing Team in Super Bowl, Game – 33, New England
Most First Downs Passing in a Super Bowl by Both Teams, Game – 42, New England vs. Philadelphia
Most Total Yards in a Super Bowl, Game – 613, New England
Most Total Yards in a Super Bowl by Both Teams, Game – 1,151 New England vs. Philadelphia
Most Passing Yards in a Super Bowl by a Team, Game – 500, New England
Most Passing Yards in a Super Bowl by Both Teams, Game – 874, New England vs. Philadelphia
Fewest Punts in a Super Bowl, Game – 0, New England
Fewest Punt In a Super Bowl by Both Teams, Game – 1, New England vs. Philadelphia
Most Missed PAT Conversions in a Super Bowl by Both Teams, Game – 4, New England vs. Philadelphia
A Gronky Situation II
Two weeks ago, Rob Gronkowski suffered a concussion that knocked him out of the AFC Championship. Thankfully for him, he was able to pass the NFL concussion protocol afterwards and was given the green light to play in the Super Bowl and boy did the Patriots needed him badly. In the loss, Gronk ended the game with 6 catches for 81 yards and 2 touchdowns.
But his gameplay wasn’t the issue nor was his gametime status. Rather it was what happened with him during postgame interviews.
In postgame interview, Gronk dropped the biggest bombshell when he said that he ‘wasn’t thinking about next season’ and was going to ‘need some time to sit down and reevaluate some aspects.’ The only people who say those kinds of words are players who are contemplating retirement. This is a headscratcher and something that Patriots fans do not need after their team had lost the Super Bowl.
Gronk will be 29 at the beginning of the 2018 season and is still in the prime of his football career. He has 3 Super Bowl rings, countless Pro Bowl appearances, a few All-Pros, and other accolades tied to his name to go along with his astounding career numbers as a tight end. But at the same time, he’s suffered an abundant of injuries that have knocked him out for extended periods of time and has had multiple back surgeries.
Maybe what Gronk said was just the result of feeling down and disheartened after losing the Super Bowl. But for somebody who has suffered through so many injuries over his career, including a few season-ending surgeries, his words should not be taken too lightly.
Fox Fist Bump
On the biggest stage, Tom Brady delivered. Throughout the entire game, the Patriots were playing catch up to the Eagles and the only reason why they even had a chance of winning was due to #12. His 505 passing yards kept the Eagles defense on their toes and he just seemed to get better and better as the game went on. Although he had that fumble that led to a late field goal by Philadelphia, Brady brought the Patriots within inches of tying the game with his last Hail Mary pass. If anybody wanted to try to point the finger at why the Patriots lost, they dare not point one at Brady because he was the only one of the team that gave them a chance to win.
Turd in the Punch Bowl
The defense, hands down. It just seemed that they forgot what they were doing for the past few months and reverted back to how they were in the month of September. Tons of missed tackles, blown coverages, barely any pressure on Nick Foles, couldn’t stop the running game. Every time the Patriots offense scored a point, the defense gave it back up.
But the biggest sin was the fact that Bill and Matt kept their second best corner, Malcolm Butler, on the bench. He played no defensive snaps for the entire game. When asked about it, they gave essentially garbage answers. “It was for football reasons.” “We had a ton of packages so not everybody could get onto the field.” “We want to put the best players on the field that could put us in the best position to win.’ So that’s why they allowed the likes of Nelson Agholor, Corey Clement, and Zach Ertz to run wild.
They said that defense wins championships. In this case, it was the defense that sunk the Patriots’ chances of winning their 6th championship.
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