Super Bowl LII: Three takeaways from Eagles' win over Patriots
The Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots boasted two of the NFL's best defenses this NFL season.
Both were lit up during Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Sunday.
When the high-scoring affair that had just one punt ended, it was a defensive play that helped the Eagles hang on for a 41-33 victory.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham stripped the ball from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with 2:09 remaining and rookie Derek Barnett recovered to help the Eagles seal their first Super Bowl championship.
Despite the loss, iconic Patriots QB Brady had a remarkable game with 505 passing yards and three touchdowns. It was not over until his Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game fell to the turf after a couple of deflections.
But as great as Brady played, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was just as good. Foles was 28 of 43 for 373 yards and three touchdowns and an interception.
Brady's pass total was the most in NFL postseason history and Foles had the fifth-most yards in a Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LII was the second-highest scoring Super Bowl of all time and had a combined 1,151 yards of offense. Those 1,151 yards were the most in any game this season, regular or postseason, and set the all-time record for the most combined total yardage in a playoff game.
The two teams combined for 673 yards in the first half. Brady was over 400 yards before the end of the third quarter and threatened the all-time mark for passing yards in any game, held by Norm Van Brocklin (554).
Philadelphia marched down the field on the opening series, but settled for a field goal despite a great catch by Torrey Smith, who finished with five receptions for 49 yards.
After the Patriots responded with their own field goal, Alshon Jeffery got the game's first touchdown with a superb 34-yard grab off a perfect throw from Foles.
After a 24-21 defeat to Brady's Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Eagles were able to prevent the veteran and the defending champions from winning their sixth title.
EAGLES RUNNING BACKS MADE THE DIFFERENCE
Philadelphia's trio of Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement combined for 265 yards of offense to lead the Eagles offense. Blount ran for 90 yards on 14 carries, including a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Ajayi had 57 rushing yards on nine carries while Clement caught four passes for 100 yards, including a 55-yard catch-and-run that set up Philadelphia's third touchdown.
The productivity from the A-B-C backs helped ease the pressure from Foles.
PEDERSON LEFT NOTHING TO CHANCE
Doug Pederson definitely coached to win and a pair of gutsy fourth-down calls stood out. After Clement's 55-yard reception, the Eagles were faced with a fourth-and-goal from the Patriots' one-yard line.
"We had just gotten all the way down the field and I wasn’t going to let the offense stop at the 1-yard line," Pederson told NBC Sports before half-time. "It was a play we were working on the past couple weeks. Our guys executed brilliantly."
He called a trick play as tight end Trey Burton threw a one-yard touchdown toss to Foles.
The second fourth-down conversion came with under six minutes remaining after the Patriots had taken a 33-32 lead. Pederson chose to go for it on fourth-and-one from his own 45-yard line. Foles completed a two-yard pass to tight end Zach Ertz to keep the drive alive. Ertz later dove into the end zone for what was a controversial 11-yard score with 2:21 remaining.
Pederson was not fazed the magnitude of the situation and coached a brilliant game.
BLITZING DID NOT WORK FOR EITHER TEAM
Foles was six of 10 for 134 yards and a touchdown when blitzed in the first half. Brady's quick release allowed him to pick apart the Eagles. Philadelphia pass rush was just a hair too late getting to Brady and he made them pay. Brady had 276 passing yards in the first half alone and kept it going in the second half with a pair of touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski. A four-yard toss to Gronkowski with 9:22 remaining gave New England their only lead of the game.
After catching just one pass for nine yards in the first half, Gronkowski finished with nine catches for 116 yards.
Foles was also dropping dimes and his 18-yard strike to Nelson Agholor, who had nine catches for 84 yards, helped set up Ertz's game-winning score.
"I've got the best players in the world and it's a resilient group," Pederson told NBC Sports following the game. "We just wanted to stay aggressive ... and let our playmakers make plays."