The Underdog Super Bowl
by Nick Grott
On Jan. 21, the New England Patriots’ dynasty took down the Jacksonville Jaguars, the best defense in the NFL, 24-20, making the Super Bowl for the ninth time in history--the most of any team in the NFL. Although QB Tom Brady made it clear that he intends to play next season at the age of 41, there have been doubts about Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's future in football, which means that the 2018 Super Bowl may have been the last for the most successful QB-coach duo ever.
In the NFC, the top two seeded teams faced off in what most expected to be a hard fought game with the Minnesota Vikings slightly favored over the Philadelphia Eagles. Although the NFC Championship started off competitively, by the third quarter, the Eagles were up by 17, destroying Minnesota on both sides of the ball. However, the Eagles beatdown, fueled by quarterback Nick Foles, failed to make the Eagles the favorites against the powerhouse New England Patriots. Both teams headed to Minneapolis, where Super Bowl LII featured the top two seeds in their respective conferences.
The game started quickly, with the first big play made by former Chicago Bear, Alshon Jeffery, who managed to grab a 50-50 toss up in the endzone, which put the Eagles up by a touchdown in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Eagles took a commanding two-touchdown lead by running the ball with former Super Bowl winning Patriot, LeGarrette Blount, who barreled through the New England defense for a score. However, as usual, Brady and the Patriots came back quickly, scoring a field goal and touchdown, but missed the extra point. Late in the second quarter, Eagle’s coach Doug Pederson dialed up a play called the Philly Special that his team had practiced the previous three weeks. Corey Clement, an undrafted rookie running back, took a direct snap and flipped the ball to undrafted tight end Trey Burton, who then threw to Foles for a one-yard score. The underdog Eagles went into halftime up ten and hyped up to play another strong half of football. However, the Patriots were the ones who came out stronger after the break.
Brady managed to throw a touchdown of his own, which was followed by a smart running touchdown by explosive running back James White. Although Foles managed to get back a quick touchdown for his team, the Patriots seemed to be taking back control of the game. In the final quarter, the Eagles managed to kick a quick field goal, but were unable to stop Brady from marching down the field and delivering a perfect throw to his tight end, Rob Gronkowski, for the tight end’s second touchdown of the night. Down by one, Phily lined three wideouts in a bunch formation to the right, leaving tight end Zach Ertz alone with one defender. The world then watched Foles sling a dart to a diving Ertz who fell into the endzone with only 2:21 left. Brady and Belichick had one last chance to show football fans everywhere that they could win again in any situation. The Pats went down the field fairly easily until 2:13, when defensive end Brandon Graham pushed his way to Brady in the pocket and knocked the ball from his grasp, forcing a fumble that the was recovered by the Eagles. New England got the ball back with 58 seconds left after a 46-yard field goal by Jake Elliott put the underdogs up by 8. Brady was unable to summon up one last magical drive and was forced to throw a hail mary to the end zone as time expiring, which ended in an incompletion and a league title for the Philadelphia Eagles--their first since 1960 (before the game became the Super Bowl).
Eagles fans, still taking in in the euphoria of the team's first-ever Super Bowl win, flooded Philadelphia on the following Thursday to experience the championship parade in what was a day for the ages in the City of Brotherly Love. The players made several short speeches, thanking their fans and expressing their amazement at the turnout of people, which concluded with general manager Howie Roseman asking, “Is this what heaven is like?”