Despite a Super Bowl record 505 passing yards by Tom Brady, the New England Patriots could not overcome a late Nick Foles-to-Zach Ertz five-yard touchdown pass as the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl title, 41-33, on Sunday night.
Brady was not the only record-setter as Foles, who replaced Eagles starter Carson Wentz in Week 14, combined with the future Hall of Famer to throw for 878 yards, the most in Super Bowl history. For his efforts – 28-for-43, 373 yards, and three touchdowns – Foles was named the game’s MVP.
It was the Eagles and Foles who got the second-highest scoring Super Bowl started. Philadelphia took the opening drive of the game, converted two third downs, and marched the ball 67 yards in 14 plays only to settle for a Jake Elliott field goal. Philadelphia continued to utilize the run-pass options that Foles is so good at executing. The RPOs, as they are known, were what helped Foles destroy a very good Minnesota defense in the NFC championship game.
New England, playing in its tenth Super Bowl, answered the Eagles opening drive with a nine-play, 67-yard drive of their own and tied the game with 3:38 remaining in the first quarter. Then, Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson, who calls the Eagles’ plays, really got going. Foles would hit WR Nelson Agholor for a seven-yard gain, RB LeGarrette Blount (a former Patriot) would run for 36 yards, and then Foles threw a beautiful 34-yard scoring pass to WR Alshon Jeffery to score the game’s first touchdown.
Philadelphia, which would gain 538 yards of total offense, was gashing the New England defense. The Patriots had struggled all season on defense finishing near the bottom of the league in total defense. Still, the Patriots were never out of the game. A Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a 26-yard run by James White brought the Patriots to within three points, 15-12, with just 2:04 left in the first half.
Pederson would then dial up something that he called “Philly Special,” a trick play that the Eagles had practiced a handful of times. Foles calmly marched the Eagles down to the Patriots one-yard line with 45 seconds left in the half. Facing 4th-and-goal from the one, Pederson used a timeout and called “Philly Special,” a play that started with a direct snap to rookie RB Corey Clement who then pitched the ball to TE Trey Burton (a former QB at Florida). Burton then tossed an easy touchdown to Foles, the guy that the New England defense had somehow forgotten. It was the first touchdown reception by a quarterback in Super Bowl history.
The second half featured more of the same as Brady threw two third-quarter touchdown passes, one to TE Rob Gronkowski and the other to WR Chris Hogan to bring the score to 29-26 with a quarter to play. The Patriots appeared to take control of Super Bowl LII with 9:22 to play when Brady hit Gronkowski for a four-yard touchdown and a 33-32 lead.
Foles then put together the drive of his career. Appearing almost Brady-like, Foles led Philadelphia 75 yards in 14 plays capping the game-winning scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown toss to TE Zach Ertz. Elliott would kick a 46-yard field goal with 1:05 to play and the game wasn’t over until Brady’s last-second end zone heave fell to the ground as time ran out.
The two teams combined for 1,151 yards, a Super Bowl record and also the most total yards in any modern NFL game. It was the Eagles first championship since the 1960 season. Blount won his second Super Bowl in a row after having been part of the Patriots victory last season.