By: Allan Erickson
WHAT A GAME. The NFL season is complete, and Super Bowl LLII was an absolute thriller. Throughout the game I was live tweeting with my “Nuts And Bolts Sports” family, and one thing’s for sure, we were all entertained, (and most were thrilled that we didn’t see another win by the evil empire.)
We’ll start with the losing side, the New England Patriots. Tom Brady did what we all knew he was going to do. He came out and produced. 505 yards (all-time record for a playoff game) and 3 touchdowns, just wasn’t enough tonight. Gronkowski, Amendola and Chris Hogan were terrific in a losing effort (9, 116, 2 TD, 8, 152, 6, 128, 1 TD respectively.) And James White continued his playoff success finding pay dirt again, that’s 6 in his last 7 playoff games. The oddest thing about understanding last night’s game, was seeing Malcolm Butler, a former Super Bowl hero, only participating on special teams, and playing zero defensive snaps. But last night, we may have seen the last of the Patriot empire.
After 17 years in the NFL, we seem to have found Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s kryptonite- NFC East teams. The first two super bowl losses were to Eli Manning and the New York Giants. This one comes at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Will they return to dominance? Or have we seen the demise of the New England Patriots? Bill will lose DC Matt Patricia and OC Josh McDaniels, leaving perhaps, Brady (41 years old,) and Belichick. With the trade of the future quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots were in a win-now State, because they’re not set up very well for the future. We’ll see who all returns, and if they can return to form, but for the first time in 18 seasons, the Patriots will have a lot of question marks.
Now, we get to the winners. The Philadelphia Eagles. First and foremost, I’d love to give the utmost congratulations to Nick Foles. A man who was considering retirement, came back to take a backup role under Andy Reid in Kansas City, signed in Philly as a free agent, and is now a Super Bowl Winning quarterback, as well as an MVP. Why was Nick Foles so successful? Because he believed in himself, his teammates believed in him, and most importantly, his coach believed in him.
Doug Pederson deserves a TON of credit for the job he did this season. He lost the league MVP in week 14, and everyone, myself included, wrote the Philadelphia Eagles off as contenders. You cannot simply replace a Carson Wentz. You try your best to replicate the offense with Foles playing instead of Wentz, but it takes a certain amount of trust to open up the offense and let Nick Foles lead you to victory. He didn’t ask Foles to manage the game, he trusted Foles to win him games, and it payed off.
The Eagles gave the ball back to Brady and company with more than two minutes left, in a one possession game. Advantage Brady, we’ve seen this story before. We all thought it was over. We were going to see the G.O.A.T. Go down and do what he’s done so many times. Not so fast, my friends.
Brandon Graham, the guy I said would be the X factor in this game, didn’t make a ton of plays, but made the biggest play of the night. Brady was hit, hurried, and off balance in the first half due to Philadelphia’s pass rush. However, the Eagles didn’t sack Brady until it was absolutely necessary. With 2:00 left, Graham got to Brady, forced a fumble, that the Eagles recovered, which ultimately won them the game. The X factor showed up when it counted the most.
We’ll call it “The Play.” The 4th and goal from the 2 yard line. If you’re going to dethrone the Patriots, then you have to take risks. Foles moves over right tackle Lane Johnson, hollers some alerts, and the ball is snapped to Corey Clement, who runs off tackle to the left side. A lateral to Tre Burton, and a throw to Nick Foles, who’s wide open in the flats, for a walk-in touchdown. This play will go down as one of the most iconic plays in Super Bowl History. And the amount of guts it took for Doug Pederson to call that play, was tremendous.
The 2017-2018 Philadelphia Eagles were a team of unsung heroes. Zack Ertz, who I believe is the third best tight end in all of football, had a wonderful season, capping it with a 7 catch, 67 yards, 1 touchdown performance in the super bowl. The trio of running backs (Blount, Ajayi, Clement) factored in huge for the Eagles. Blount has 14 carries, 90 yards and a touchdown, Ajayi had 9 carries for 56 yards, Clement had 3 carries for 8 yards, and 4 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. Alshon Jeffrey did his damage in the first half, 3 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. And Nelson Agholor hauled in 9 passes for 84 yards, while veteran Torrey Smith caught 5 for 49.
How did the Eagles do this? As a team. They lost, arguably, their 2 best players in Carson Wentz and all-pro Left Tackle Jason Peters before the postseason run. This team never gave in, they embraced the underdog mentality, and rode the wave to a world championship. What a storybook ending to an excellent season of football.