Start celebrating, Foles helps Eagles end Super Bowl drought
Patriots WR Brandin Cooks has been ruled out for the remainder of the Super Bowl after taking a vicious hit from Malcolm Jenkins. Time
MINNEAPOLIS – The celebrations began as soon as the green and white confetti fell, officially commemorating the Eagles' improbable Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.
This one was 57 years in the making as the unlikeliest of Eagles teams won the Super Bowl, beating the New England Patriots 41-33 on Sunday night. It's the first time the Eagles have won the Super Bowl in the 52-year history of the game.
The Eagles had to hang on for dear life. That is, until defensive end Brandon Graham barreled in from the left side, wrapped up Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and forced a fumble that rookie Derek Barnett recovered at the New England 31 with 2:09 remaining.
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From there, it was just a matter of time until the final minutes rolled off the clock, letting out a collective sense of euphoria among the multitudes of Eagles fans at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Who would have thought the game would come down to a duel between Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and Brady? And that the Eagles would have a legitimate chance to win playing that way.
The two teams set a record for total yards in a game, combining for more than 1,100.
Brady threw for 505 yards, breaking a Super Bowl record for passing yards that he set last year. But Foles and the Eagles matched him pass for pass, touchdown for touchdown, yard for yard.
Foles, who completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns, put the Eagles in front with his 11-yard TD pass to tight end Zach Ertz with 2:21 remaining. That came seven minutes after Brady gave the Patriots their first lead of the game, at 33-32 with 9:22 remaining.
What a ride for the Eagles and their fans. Foles was the backup quarterback as recently as two months ago, when starter and likely MVP Carson Wentz tore his ACL in a win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Foles had contemplated retirement after a dreadful 2015 season with the Rams, then based in St. Louls.
Here he is now, a Super Bowl hero for a team about to host a parade in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
And the vast majority of the fans at U.S. Bank Stadium, most paying at least a few thousand dollars for tickets, celebrated all of it, as did fans watching in bars and restaurants and at home around Delaware.
The fans were loud long before the game even started. And they kept it going throughout the game, as the fight song "Fly Eagles Fly" was heard loud and clear every time the Eagles scored.
And on this night, it was often as the Eagles had their first NFL championship since 1960.
It was the most unlikely of circumstances. The Eagles were coming off a 7-9 season with an unproven quarterback in Wentz. Then they lost five key players, including Wentz, to season-ending injuries throughout the course of the season.
And still, they kept winning.
The Patriots, on the other hand, were going for their sixth Super Bowl in the Brady-Bill Belichick era that has spanned the last 18 seasons. That included a win over the Eagles in the Eagles' last Super Bowl appearance 13 years ago.
This time, the Eagles, under a second-year head coach in Doug Pederson, had an answer for everything.
There was Alshon Jeffery, the free-agent signed to a one-year prove-it deal, making a leaping 34-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. There was Corey Clement, the rookie undrafted free agent, getting 100 yards receiving, including a 22-yard touchdown.
And there was Foles, orchestrating all of it.
It was clear from the start that this was going to be an offensive showcase.
The Eagles took the opening kickoff and methodically drove down the field, getting to the Patriots 2 yard line before settling for a field goal. The Patriots responded with a field goal of their own after Jalen Mills broke up a pass in the end zone intended for tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Eagles responded quickly on LeGarrette Blount's 35-yard run, followed by Foles' 34-yard pass to Jeffery in the back of the end zone as he outleaped former Eagle Eric Rowe to come down with the pass.
The Patriots were poised to cut into the lead, but a botched snap on a field-goal attempt led to a miss. And the Eagles came right back and made it 15-3 on Blount's 21-yard touchdown run.
Then Delaware native and Caesar Rodney graduate Duron Harmon made a play for the Patriots. He intercepted Foles at the 10 yard line catching the deflection off of Jeffery. That set up a 90-yard drive that culminated in James White's 26-yard run.
Just like that, the Pats were within three points with 2:04 left in the first half.
That's when Foles had perhaps his finest moment as an athlete. A 55-yard catch and run by Corey Clement, the Glassboro, New Jersey resident, got the Eagles inside the Patriots' 10 with about a minute left in the half.
Facing a 4th-and-goal from the 1, Clement lined up behind center, took the snap, flipped the ball to Trey Burton, who then threw to Foles in the end zone. It was a fitting play on several fronts.
For one, Brady dropped a pass earlier when he was wide open along the sideline. Secondly, Burton is a former quarterback at the University of Florida. And it was Foles' first reception of his career, regular season or postseason.
Regardless, the Eagles were in front by 10 at halftime after both teams amassed 673 yards in the first half, a Super Bowl record.
There was no slowing down in the second half, either.
The Patriots scored on their first possession and the Eagles came back with Clement's 22-yard reception in the back of the end zone. Again, the Patriots answered, this time Brady's strike to Chris Hogan with 3:23 left in the third quarter cut the Eagles' lead to 29-26.
It kept going all the way until the end, when Graham made his defensive play and the Eagles held off one last throw by Brady into the end zone.
The celebration began on the field. And it never stopped.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.