MINNEAPOLIS -- As their delirious fans sang their theme song and their owner lifted the Lombardi Trophy, the Philadelphia Eagles finally could breathe freely.
Philadelphia beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a thrilling Super Bowl that rewrote the offensive record book.
Nick Foles guided the drive of a lifetime, Zach Ertz made a bobbling touchdown catch that had to survive replay review, and an exhausted defense came up with not one but two stands in the final moments Sunday for a 41-33 victory. For the first time since 1960, the Eagles are NFL champions.
"We've played this game since we were little kids. We dreamed about this moment," game MVP Foles said. "There's plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment and someday will be here."
In a record-setting shootout between backup QB Foles and five-time champ Brady of the favored Patriots, Foles led a pressure-packed 75-yard drive to the winning touchdown, an 11-yard strike to Ertz with 2:21 to go.
Then Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady and Derek Barnett recovered, setting up rookie Jake Elliott's 46-yard field goal for an eight-point lead with 1:05 remaining.
"For us, it was all about one stop we had to make. We went out here and made that one stop," Graham said.
Brady got his team to midfield, but his desperation pass fell to the ground as time expired.
The underdog Eagles (16-3), even without injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz, came bolting off the sideline in ecstasy while Brady sat on the ground, disconsolate.
It was the first Super Bowl title for Philadelphia, which went from 7-9 last season.
"If there's a word [it's]called everything," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. "That's what it means to Eagles fans everywhere. And for Eagles fans everywhere, this is for them."
Foles orchestrated the victory with the kind of drive NFL MVP Brady, a five-time champion, is known for. The drive covered 14 plays, including a fourth-down conversion.
"I felt calm. I mean, we have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff," Foles said. "We felt confident coming in, and we just went out there and played football."
The Eagles had to survive a video replay because the ball popped into the air as Ertz crossed the goal line.
"If they would have overturned that, I don't know what would have happened to the city of Philadelphia," Ertz said. "But I'm so glad they didn't overturn it."
The Patriots (15-4) seemed ready to take their sixth championship with Brady and Coach Bill Belichick in eight Super Bowls. Brady threw for a game-record 505 yards and 3 TDs, hitting Rob Gronkowski for 4 yards before Stephen Gostkowski's extra point gave New England its first lead, 33-32.
Then Foles made them forget Wentz -- at least for now -- with a gutsy drive, including a fourth-down conversion near midfield.
"We couldn't make a play to give the ball back to the offense," Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said.
Foles has been something of a journeyman in his six pro seasons, but he has been spectacular in four career playoff games. He finished 28 of 43 for 373 yards and 3 TDs.
The combined 1,151 yards were the most in any modern NFL game, and Brady's 505 were the most in any playoff contest. The 40-year-old finished 28 of 48 and picked apart the Eagles until the final two series.
Brady indicated he will return for a 19th season even as Gronkowski was hedging on his future.
"I mean, it's 15 minutes after the game ended, so I'd like to process this a little bit," Brady said. "I wouldn't see why I wouldn't be back."
Gronkowski, who has played eight superb but injury-riddled years, said "I am definitely going to look at my future."
It was such a wild game that Foles caught a touchdown pass, and Brady was on the opposite end of a Danny Amendola throw that went off his fingertips.
Eagles Coach Doug Pederson brought home the championship in his second year in charge. Belichick is 5-3 in Super Bowls and his teams have only a plus-4 overall margin in those games.
Brady and the Patriots looked ready for another comeback by opening the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive after trailing 22-12 at halftime. Gronkowski was unstoppable, grabbing four passes for 69 yards, including the 5-yard score.
Philly didn't flinch, answering with a 75-yard march and three more third-down conversions -- the Eagles were 10 for 16 in the game. The last was on Foles' perfect 22-yard pass to running back Corey Clement over double coverage. The rookie's reception was upheld by review -- 1 of his 4 catches for 100 yards -- and the Eagles were back on top by 10.
Brady shrugged and, getting steadfast protection, connected with Chris Hogan from the 26 for another touchdown to cut the lead to 29-26.
When all the Eagles could manage was Elliott's 42-yard field goal for a 32-26 lead, it seemed inevitable the Patriots would go in front, then become the first repeat Super Bowl winner since they did it in the 2004 and '05 games.
Brady responded, leading a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was capped by Gronkowski's 4-yard scoring reception for a 33-32 lead with 9:22 remaining. Gronkowski finished with 9 catches for 116 yards and 2 TDs.
Foles, Ertz and a revitalized defense wouldn't let the Patriots lead hold.
The weird image of Brady ambling downfield on a pass pattern came three plays after New England lost receiver Brandin Cooks to a concussion on a clean hit by Malcolm Jenkins in the second quarter. Amendola's pass required an over-the-shoulder grab, but the ball glanced off Brady's outstretched hands.
Brady got back to passing after a wild interception. Alshon Jeffery nearly made a spectacular catch near the Patriots' goal line, only to juggle the ball into the air. Duron Harmon picked it off at the 10.
Moments later, Brady was connecting with Chris Hogan for a 42-yard gain. James White broke several tackles with a 26-yard run to make it 15-12 Eagles. That gave White seven touchdowns in his past three postseason games, including the overtime winner in last year's Super Bowl.
But the Eagles still had 2:04 left in the half -- and some more magic in their bag.
A short third-down throw to Clement on a circle route turned into a 55-yard explosion down to the Patriots 8. Philly got to the 1 and on fourth down, it was Foles' turn to morph into a receiver.
He did better than Brady. On fourth down, Clement took a direct snap, pitched to tight end Trey Burton, and the former Florida QB hit an uncovered Foles. The Eagles were up 22-12 at halftime, the most points New England has allowed in the opening half of a Super Bowl under Belichick.
Rodney McLeod (bottom) of the Philadelphia Eagles smiles and celebrates after the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 to win Super Bowl LII on Sunday in Minneapolis.
Sports on 02/05/2018
Print Headline: Down goes dynasty: Foles plays part of Brady in offensive classic