MINNESOTA — Don’t look now, the Eagles just out-schemed and out-maneuvered Bill Belichick en route to history.
Specifically, Doug Pederson.
With some magic from an Austin area quarterback, game-sealind defensive plays and a historical finish, Philadelphia defeated New England 41-33 to win its first Super Bowl in franchise history.
And the underdog story, according to Pederson, told nothing of the depth of a team that lost its starting quarterback and starting left tackle in the same season.
“I look back at my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs and those Super Bowl runs there, and do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?” Pederson said after the game.
The game, though, didn’t come without its fair share of drama. Or a lot of yards from the Eagles and Patriots — enough to set a postseason record in total combined yards. Both teams gained 1,151 yards with 142 total plays.
Brady had 505 yards — the first quarterback to throw for more than 500 in postseason — of that total as well as three touchdowns. The combination of LaGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi accounted for 147.
After trading field goals from the legs of Jake Elliott and Stephen Gotskowski, Austin Westlake alum Nick Foles lead Philadelphia on a three-play, 87-yard scoring drive capped by a 34-yard back-shoulder touchdown to Alshon Jeffery. Four series later and after a Patriots’ missed field goal and turnover on downs, Blount struck — via a 21-yard rumble into the end zone.
Foles, though nearly made a fatal stumble against a team that capitalizes and builds momentum from mistakes. On first and 10 with 5:15 left ing the second quarter, he saw a pass intended for Jeffrey tipped and intercepted by Duron Harmon.
His 1-yard touchdown reception on a trick-play pass from Trey Burton nearly erased all memory of the momentary mistake.
Less than eight minutes into the second half, too, Foles’ threw a 22-yard dime to Clement sliding through the end zone that pushed the Eagles’ lead from three points to 10. It was one of his three touchdowns on the evening. He also finished 28 of 43 for 373 yards and four total touchdowns.
No Super Bowl, though, would be complete without Tom Brady being Tom Brady. The Patriots scored on two of their next three drives via a Gotskowski 45-yard field goal, a 23-yard pass to The Woodlands High School alum Danny Amendola and a 5-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski (9 rec, 116 yards, 2 TDs).
Just like that, the score was 22-19 and New England was a field goal away from tying and a touchdown away from taking the lead.
“The big thing that helped me is to know I didn’t have to be Superman,” said Foles, the Super Bowl MVP, about weathering New England’s rally. “You never know what to expect when you’re going into the Super Bowl. The Patriots are one of the greatest franchises of all time. I went back to when I played basketball [at Austin Westlake High School]. I just stayed in the moment and didn’t worry about anything else. I just played. This is unbelievable.”
That opportunity came at the 9:22 mark of the fourth quarter, when Brady hit Gronkowski for his second TD of the game. The four-yard reception capped a 75-yard drive that included back-to-back-to-back catches by Amendola and a 9-yard rush from Rex Burkhead.
The near-game winning pass to Gronkowski was the very next play.
That fourth quarter pass also tied an NFL record. According to information gathers ESPN Stats & Info, Gronkowski’s 12 touchdown catches from Brady match Jerry Rice’s total from Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers for the most in NFL playoff history.
A final drive was too many to give Foles, who marched the Eagles 75 yards down the field in 7:01 and found Ertz 11 yard sale away for the game’s final touchdown. The 2:21 left on the clock was seemingly enough time for Brady to stage a comeback rally.
A strip-sack on Brady and subsequent fumble recovery by Derek Barnett and Elliot’s 46-yard field-goal dagger snuffed out the final light ended the game.
“He’s the guy that never gets riled up. He couldn’t have come through on a bigger stage,” Groveton High School’s Lane Johnson about winning a title with Texas brethren Foles. “This was always about letting our personality show and embracing the moment. I think we did that and it showed in the end.”
Marcus Matthews-Marion is the managing editor of TexasHSFootball, covering prep football throughout the Lone Star State and collegiate and professional football throughout the country. Follow him on Twitter, @TheMJMatthews, and read more of his content here.
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