In Minneapolis, Foles Leads Eagles to First Super Bowl Title

February 05, 2018 01:02 AM

The Philadelphia Eagles may have been relying on their second quarterback.

But the franchise can now call itself a Super Bowl champion for the first time.

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And Nick Foles – who came on in relief when second-year standout Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State went down with a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury in Week 14 – is a big reason why.

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He threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns – while catching another – as the Eagles held off the dynastic New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday.

"I felt good," Foles said. "You never really know what it's going to be like when you're going into a Super Bowl. I've never been here before, so there are normal nerves. You've got some butterflies. It's a big game. 

"But I felt calm. The big thing that helped me was knowing I didn't have to be Superman. I have amazing teammates around me."

Sunday marked the Patriots' eighth Super Bowl appearance since the 2001 season, and quarterback Tom Brady and company were trying for their sixth title, which would have tied the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most by any team.

Instead, it was the underdog Eagles who claimed their first, having lost in their previous two Super Bowl appearances. Even as as the 40-year-old Brady, this season's NFL MVP, threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns.

"We had our opportunities," Brady said. "We just could never get control of the game."

The Eagles' victory capped a week of buildup to Minnesota's second time as a Super Bowl host overall, and its first since January 1992.

They jumped out to a 15-6 lead in the second quarter. But the Patriots seemed to grab the momentum back with a 7-play, 90-yard drive capped by a  26-yard touchdown run by James White with 2:04 to play in the first half.

Philadelphia wasn't finished though. A 55-yard pass from Foles to Corey Clement set up a 1st-and-goal at the New England 8. Then, on fourth down at the 1, the Eagles pulled out a bit of trickery.

Foles lined up under center before shifting to the right. The snap went to Clement, who pitched the ball to tight end Trey Burton on the reverse. He then tossed the ball to Foles, who made a 1-yard touchdown catch that put his team on top 22-12 at the half.

"That was a huge play," Eagles tight end Zach Ertz said. "To go for it on fourth down like that and get it was a huge boost."

The two teams combined for 673 yards of offense in the first half alone. Brady had 276 yards passing at halftime. Foles had 215.

"Obviously getting in a shootout with that other guy (Brady) and that team is not ideal," said Ertz who had nine catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. "They're very well coached. But Nick did a great job for us."

Brady began the second half by connecting with tight end Rob Gronkowski on a 5-yard pass that cut the gap to 22-19. Then, after Philadelphia went back up by 10 on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Foles to Clement, Brady connected with wide receiver Chris Hogan for a scoring strike of 26 yards.

That cut the Eagles' lead to just 29-26 going into the fourth quarter.

"I'm proud of the way our team competed tonight," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "I'm proud of the way our players and coaches competed for 60 minutes. It just wasn't quite enough."

Philadephia expanded the margin to 32-26 on a 42-yard field goal by Jake Elliott. But Brady responded by leading his team back down the field to take the lead for the first time – at 32-33 – on a 4-yard touchdown catch by Gronkowski.

Still, the Eagles remained undaunted, scoring on an 11-yard pass from Foles to Ertz to take a 38-33 lead with 2:21 to go.

That left Brady one more chance. But on the second play of his team's ensuing possession, he was hit by defensive end Brandon Graham and lost the ball.

Derek Barnett pounced on it, setting up a 46-yard Elliott field goal that put the game away.

"We wanted to collapse the pocket," Barnett said. "Brandon did a great job with the strip sack and I was just there to pick it up. 

"I tried to score, but they grabbed my leg," he added with a smile. "But we got the ball back to our offense and they put up more points. So it was OK."

Brady did manage to lead his team into position for a final Hail Mary pass, but it fell incomplete.

Foles was named the game's MVP.

"I'm so happy for Nick," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "Like this football team, a lot of people doubted him and didn't think he could get it done.

"But the players believed in him. The coaches believed in him."

And now they are world champions.

"I just know there's going to be a lot of celebrating tonight," Foles said with a grin.

"We've all been waiting for this for a long time. All the people who bleed green. All the people in Philly. All the people across the nation who support the Eagles. This has been a long time coming." 

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