Tuesday, August 14, 2018
  • Bucs Beat
  • Rick Stroud and Greg Auman

Super Bowl: Nick Foles, Eagles upset Tom Brady, Patriots

MINNEAPOLIS —Nobody knew when Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles had to drop his clipboard that he would carry the team and an entire city instead.

Foles, 29, had been traded, then cut and nearly quit football two years ago to devote his time to becoming a pastor, taking seminary classes.
To be asked to take over from starter Carson Wentz, who tore his ACL in Week 14, and lead his team to Super Bowl LII against the Patriots and Tom Brady? Impossible.

This is the caddy grabbing a driver on the 16th tee of the final round of the Masters and winning a green jacket. It's the pit crew member hopping into the driver's seat and taking the checkered flag at the Daytona 500.
But Foles and go-for-broke Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, a career backup quarterback for 10 seasons in the NFL, pulled it off.

Foles led a 14-play, 75-yard drive and fired an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz with 2:21 remaining in the game to give the Eagles a thrilling 41-33 win over New England in Super Bowl LII. The play was upheld under instant replay review, giving Philadelphia its first Super Bowl title and avenging the loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Whew. What a Super Bowl!

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It was a fast-paced game, with one haymaker after another being landed, as if the Eagles mythical underdog hero Rocky was standing toe-to-toe with the champ.

The teams combined for 1,151 total yards, the most in Super Bowl history.

Foles passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns with one interception and even caught a touchdown pass. He was named the game's MVP.

"I wasn't focused on the score or the clock,'' Foles said. "I was just was going to go out there and play. I just wanted to play hard, play for one another. The Patriots did an amazing job. Tom Brady is the greatest of all time. That was a tough battle. Wow. Wow, wow, wow!''

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Nine years ago, Pederson was coaching Calvary Baptist High School in Shreveport, La. Facing Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a five-time Super Bowl champion, he didn't back down.

"We just wanted to stay aggressive,'' Pederson said. "We mixed in some of the RPOs (run-pass options). But my mentality coming into the game, I'm going to stay aggressive with Nick and let the playmakers make plays.''

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After giving up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter but only trailing by a point, Foles made clutch throw after clutch throw.  His 2-yard pass to Ertz on fourth and 1 near midfield kept the chains moving on the final drive.
Brady, as he had done his whole career, kept bringing the Patriots from behind. He passed for a Super Bowl-record 505 yards and three touchdowns.

But with just over two minutes to go, defensive end Brandon Graham finally got to Brady for the Eagles' first sack, stripping the ball. Defensive end Derek Barnett recovered at the New England 31.

That led to a field goal by Jake Elliott. It wasn't over until Brady's Hail Mary pass to Rob Gronkowski fell incomplete as time ran out.

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All week long, Foles versus Brady seemed like a huge mismatch. Brady had five Super Bowl rings. Foles started five games for the Eagles this season.
After he was traded to the St. Louis Rams, then released two years ago, he thought he was done with football. After a camping trip with his brother-in-law, he decided to give it another try, agreeing only to sign with Kansas City coach Andy Reid.

On Sunday, Foles nearly matched Brady drive for drive as there was only one punt in the game.

"I felt calm,'' Foles said. "The thing that helped me was I knew I didn't have to be Superman.''

Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor, a former Berkeley Prep standout, had a team-best nine catches for 84 yards.

"Nick Foles is a great player and a great person," Agholor said.

One of the game-turning plays came late in the first half with Foles catching, not throwing a touchdown pass.
The Patriots had just cut into the Eagles lead and trailed 15-12 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.

Rather than sit on the lead, Pederson stayed aggressive. A short pass to running back Corey Clement turned into 55-yard gain. But on fourth and goal at the 1-yard line with 38 seconds left, Pederson wasn't content with a field goal try by Elliott, who had missed an extra point.

"We just got all the down the field and I wasn't going to let our offense be stopped at the 1-yard line,'' Pederson said.

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That's when Pederson dug deep into the playbook. With Foles lined up behind the right tackle, Clement took a direct snap, then handed to tight end Trey Burton, who began his college career at Florida as a quarterback. Burton rolled right and threw a touchdown pass to Foles all alone in the end zone, Foles' first career touchdown catch.

"You know what we call that play?' The Philly Special,'' Pederson said.

Brady gave the Patriots their only lead with his third touchdown, his second to Gronkowski. The last one was a 4-yard fade route over former Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby. The extra point by Stephen Gostkowski gave the Patriots their first lead at 33-32 with 9:22 remaining in the game.

"It's tough to get here and it's tough to win,'' Brady said. "They played a great game. We fought to the end, but we didn't make all the plays we needed to make. We took the lead and then they went down and scored and then they had the strip sack.

"We get it, we're supposed to move it and score."

Time ran out on Tom. This Super Bowl belonged to Pederson, Foles and the Philly Special.

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