Drew White | Staff Writer
After 51 seasons of suffering and heartbreak, the Philadelphia Eagles finally won their first championship title at Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. In a game dominated by offense, it was a solid defensive play that helped seal the deal for the Birds and led them to a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots.
After season-long No. 2 quarterback Nick Foles led the Philadelphia offense down the field to score a go-ahead touchdown with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter, defensive end Brandon Graham made a play that will go down in Super Bowl history.
With just 2:09 left in the game, Graham was able to record the Eagles’ first sack of the game — and he made sure that it was an impact play. Graham strip-sacked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and rookie Derek Barnett recovered the fumble to help the team secure its first championship title since 1960 and their first Super Bowl ever.
The night started off with a bang as the Eagles drove down the field on the first drive of the game. Although they got inside the five-yard line, the Birds were forced to settle for a field goal.
After a New England field goal to tie it up, the Eagles took a 9-3 lead on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Foles to Alshon Jeffery.
Following a missed extra point by Philadelphia’s Jake Elliott, the Patriots drove down the field and had to settle for a field goal attempt. After a bobbled snap, reliable Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski shockingly missed a chip shot of his own to keep the score at 9-3.
Perhaps one of the most shocking plays in the game happened in the second quarter, when No. 1 New England receiver, Brandin Cooks, went down with a concussion. After catching a pass, Cooks turned to go up field and was blasted by the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins. Cooks went down immediately and did not return.
The Eagles increased their lead to 15-3 after a Legarrette Blount 21-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion attempt to make the game a 14-point lead for Philadelphia failed.
New England struck back with a field goal to make it 15-6, then intercepted a pass tipped by Jeffery, which looked like it may turn the tide for the Patriots.
After the pick, the Pats drove down field 90 yards and capped off the drive with a 26-yard touchdown run for last year’s Super Bowl MVP, James White. Gostkowski followed it up with an errant extra point attempt of his own, though, keeping the game at 15-12.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson decided to go for it on fourth down inside the 1-yard line on the following drive, and it paid off. Foles caught a touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton on a beautifully designed trick play, making the game a 22-12 game going into the half.
The second half started out with a bang, with each team trading touchdowns on their opening possessions. First, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski in the end zone to pull within a field goal, but then Foles answered with a touchdown pass of his own, hooking up with rookie Corey Clement for a 22-yard score to bring the lead back to 10 for the Eagles.
Brady was not done, though, as he drove the Patriots straight down the field, eventually hitting Chris Hogan for a 22-yard touchdown pass.
New England was able to hold Philly to a field goal on its following possession, making the deficit just six.
Brady, once again, pushed the Patriots down the field on the following possession. This time, he found Gronkowski in the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Patriots their first lead of the game at 33-32 with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
The Eagles then put together the drive of the game, converting on two third downs and one important fourth down as they drove down the field, trying to take the lead once again. On third-and-seven from the Patriots 11-yard line, Foles found Zach Ertz on a slant, and Ertz was able to muscle his way into the end zone to cap a seven-minute, 14 play drive and give the Eagles the lead once and for all.
After the strip sack of Brady, the Patriots held the Eagles to a field goal to keep it a one possession game at 41-33.
At long last, a last-second Hail Mary attempt by Brady fell to the ground as the game clock hit 00:00, and the Eagles were crowned champions.
Foles was named MVP after finishing with 373 yards, three passing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown.
Despite the loss, the Patriots have begun as favorites to win Super Bowl LIII by bookkeepers in Vegas with 9-2 odds. The Eagles are the second favorites at 6-1.