Eagles soar to first Super Bowl title
FOR a city that produced one of Hollywood’s ultimate underdog stories, the Philadelphia Eagles delivered an equally inspiring script by upsetting the New England Patriots on Sunday for their first Super Bowl title.
The Eagles were underdogs throughout the National Football League playoffs, and just as most expected little from fictional Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa, few onlookers outside the City of Brotherly Love expected them to beat the defending Super Bowl champions.
But Philadelphia, which embraced its lowly status with some players wearing dog masks throughout the playoffs, stunned New England with a 41-33 victory to cap a remarkable turnaround after finishing last in its division a year ago.
“We’ve been doubted since Day One,” said Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who caught what proved to be the game-winning touchdown. “This team, no one picked us. We come out here and we’re world champions.”
The victory set off a wild celebration among the team’s many green-clad supporters who made the trek to chilly Minneapolis, while uplifting music from “Rocky” blared through the speakers above a field covered in silver and green confetti.
The Eagles limped into postseason with an offense handicapped by a seemingly hopeless backup quarterback following an injury to Carson Wentz in December, but Nick Foles proved more than ready to shine on the game’s biggest stage.
Foles, who nearly retired after an underwhelming 2015 season with the St Louis Rams, showed no nerves playing in his first Super Bowl and went toe-to-toe with Patriots’ Tom Brady, a five-time Super Bowl champion.
“I felt calm,” said Foles, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after throwing three touchdowns. “We felt confident coming in and we just went out there and played football.”
The Eagles, who won three championships in the pre-Super Bowl era, had long been a tormented franchise and lost in their only two previous Super Bowl appearances, including to the Patriots in 2005, but dug deep to bring home a championship.
Trailing by a point late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles moved ahead for good when Foles connected with Ertz on a 11-yard TD to put his team ahead 38-33.
Philadelphia missed a subsequent 2-point conversion attempt to leave the door open for the Patriots with a little less than 2-1/2 minutes to play.
But in a game when both offenses moved up and down the field effortlessly and combined for a Super Bowl-record 1,151 yards, Brady had the ball swatted from his grasp and it was recovered by Philadelphia to all but seal New England’s fate.
The Eagles went on to kick a field goal to extend their lead to 8 points and prevented the Patriots from engineering a last-minute, game-tying drive.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick took the blame for the loss while Rob Gronkowski, playing in his first game since suffering a concussion two weeks ago, said he knew his team was going to be in for a battle. “You just knew that it was going to be a shootout the whole game and it was going to take all 60 minutes.”
Brady finished with a Super Bowl record 505 passing yards and three TDs but could not deliver when it mattered most, his desperate pass falling to the ground in the end zone as time expired. “Losing sucks. That’s part of it,” said Brady.
The Patriots now enter an offseason some feel could mark the beginning of the end for their dynasty with reports about a rift between Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.