In­side: De­fen­sive backs, spe­cial teams re­view; Su­per Bowl LII re­cap

Un­likely tale for backup quar ter­back sim­i­lar to Brady’s in 2001 sea­son

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— Nick Foles did his best Tom Brady im­per­son­ation, lead­ing a late-game come­back to cap a sea­son that be­gan as a backup and ended as Su­per Bowl MVP.

Foles’ jour­ney mir­rored Brady’s 16 years ago and ended late Sun­day night, with green-and­white con­fetti fall­ing as deliri­ous Philadel­phia Ea­gles fans cel­e­brated their first NFL ti­tle since 1960.

No quar­ter­back has gone from backup to ti­tle game MVP in one sea­son since Brady re­placed Drew Bled­soe in the 2001 sea­son. Foles topped the 40year-old Brady, foot­ball’s great­est win­ner, in the most pro­lific of­fen­sive game in NFL his­tory, with the Ea­gles de­feat­ing the fa­vored New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots 41-33.

Foles fin­ished it off by engi­neer­ing the type of game-win­ning drive that made Brady fa­mous, and he watched his de­fense stopped Brady to seal the vic­tory and the Ea­gles first Su­per Bowl – their ear­lier ti­tles came be­fore the Su­per Bowl era.

“The stage was never too big for him all year,” said Zach Ertz, who caught the game-win­ning 11-yard touch­down pass from Foles with 2:21 re­main­ing. “To get in a shootout with that guy on the other team is prob­a­bly not ideal for any­one ever. The guy is the best quar­ter­back to ever play the game.”

But on this night Brady played sec­ond fid­dle to Foles de­spite throw­ing for a play­off record 505 yards. Foles was nearly as pro­lific with 373 yards and three touch­down passes and also caught a TD pass for the Ea­gles (16-3). Brady dropped his own chance at a re-

cep­tion on a trick play by the Pa­tri­ots (15-4).

That all added up to Foles be­com­ing the first backup quar­ter­back to win the Su­per Bowl since Brady beat two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner to win his first ti­tle 16 years ago.

Brady never gave up the job he got af­ter Bled­soe got hurt early that sea­son. He has gone on to win a record five Su­per Bowl ti­tles. Af­ter throw­ing his third touch­down pass, to Rob Gronkowski, with 9:22 to play to give the Pa­tri­ots their first lead of the game, he seemed poised for a sixth.

That’s when Foles stepped up with the drive of his life to give Philadel­phia its first Su­per Bowl ti­tle in a sea­son many wrote off af­ter Car­son Wentz in­jured his knee in Week 14.

Foles drove the Ea­gles 75 yards, con­vert­ing a fourt­hand-1 with a 2-yard pass to Ertz near mid­field and then cap­ping it with the pass to Ertz that needed to sur­vive a re­play re­view to make sure Ertz held onto the ball long enough for a score.

“It doesn’t get any big­ger than this, but I felt good,” Foles said. “I felt calm. I think the big thing that helped me was know­ing that I didn’t have to be Su­per­man. I have amaz­ing team­mates.”

One of those team­mates de­liv­ered the key de­fen­sive play on a night when the of­fenses com­bined for 1,151 yards – the most in any mod­ern NFL game. With Brady poised to lead one of his mem­o­rable come­backs, Bran­don Gra­ham knocked the ball out of his hand for a fum­ble that rookie Derek Bar­nett re­cov­ered with 2:09 to play.

“When the fourth quar­ter came we had to go out there and make a stop,” Gra­ham said. “As a de­fense we hadn’t been do­ing it all game. The of­fense car­ried us all the way through. At the end of the day we kept com­ing.”

Jake El­liott tacked on a field goal and the game ended when Brady’s des­per­a­tion heave to the end zone fell to the turf, send­ing the Ea­gles out on the field in cel­e­bra­tion and Brady to the ground in de­spair.

“I don’t think any­one wal- lows on our team,” Brady said. “We’re a com­pet­i­tive team. Played hard. Didn’t make enough plays or score enough points.”

The ques­tions af­ter the game im­me­di­ately turned to the fu­ture with Foles ex­pected to re­turn to the backup role when Wentz is healthy. In the other locker room, Brady was asked if he would come back for an­other run at age 41.

“I ex­pect to be back,” he said. “It’s 15 min­utes af­ter the game ended, so I would like to process this. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be back.”

Brady did just about all he could to win the game, with his most glar­ing miss com­ing as a re­ceiver on a trick play in the first half when he dropped a pass from re­ceiver Danny Amen­dola.

Foles topped him in that role with his touch­down late in the first half that made him the first player to catch and throw a TD pass in the same Su­per Bowl.

On fourth down from the 1, Foles mo­tioned into the slot, while rookie Corey Cle­ment took a di­rect snap. Cle­ment pitched to tight end Trey Bur­ton, a for­mer quar­ter­back at Florida. Foles slid into the right side of the end zone, un­cov­ered and caught the touch­down on a play coach Doug Ped­er­son calls “Philly Spe­cial.”

“Yeah, that was some­thing we’ve been work­ing on, and Doug and I were talk­ing, and he was like, ‘Let’s just run it.’ It was a good time,” Foles said. “And the end was a lit­tle wider than I thought, so I was like, ‘I re­ally need to sell like I’m not do­ing any­thing.’

“And it worked, Trey made an amaz­ing throw. I just looked it in and, yeah, we’ve repped it for a while, so I was ex­cited to get it run in the Su­per Bowl.”

That gave the Ea­gles a 22-12 half­time lead but Brady led three straight sec­ond-half touch­down drives – two to Gronkowski. Foles kept pace with a 22-yard touch­down pass to Cle­ment and an­other drive for a field goal that kept the Ea­gles in it un­til the dra­matic fin­ish.

“It kind of felt like who­ever had the ball last could win this game, and we were just for­tu­nate enough to put our­selves in a po­si­tion to end the game with that drive for the touch­down,” coach Doug Ped­er­son said. “Our de­fense stepped up and did a nice job to fin­ish it for us.”

All that was left was the cel­e­bra­tion and yet an­other ren­di­tion of “Fly Ea­gles Fly.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ea­gles quar­ter­back Nick Foles holds his daugh­ter, Lily, af­ter Philadel­phia beat the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots in the Su­per Bowl on Sun­day. Foles threw for 373 yards and three touch­downs, and also caught a pass for a touch­down, earn­ing MVP hon­ors.

TNS

Philadel­phia Ea­gles tight end Zach Ertz catches an 11-yard touch­down pass and rolls into the end zone for the go-ahead score in the fourth quar­ter of Su­per Bowl LII on Sun­day. Ertz also caught a key pass on a fourth down that kept the game-win­ning...

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