The underdog Philadelphia Eagles, led by backup quarterback Nick Foles and second-year head coach Doug Pederson, came out on top after a thrilling shootout with Tom Brady’s New England Patriots, winning Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis by a score of 41-33.
It was the Eagles’ first ever Super Bowl victory. The franchise won NFL championships in 1948, 1949, and 1960, before the merger of the AFL and NFL. The Patriots have won five Super Bowls, each in the last 17 years.
Philadelphia led from the start of the game, jumping out to a 22-12 lead after a successful trick play on fourth down at the goal line just before halftime. Instead of kicking an easy field goal, Coach Pederson kept his offense on the field for the now-famous “Philly Special”: center Jason Kelce snapped the ball to running back Corey Clement, who pitched to tight end Trey Burton, who threw an easy pass to a wide-open Foles in the endzone.
After Justin Timberlake’s halftime performance, the Patriots came out strong looking to make a comeback. Brady and star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught two touchdowns in the second half, led their offensive charge as they exploited weaknesses in the Eagles’ defense. The Eagles scored an additional touchdown and field goal of their own, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Patriots from taking their first lead of the game at 33-32 early in the fourth quarter.
However, the Eagles held firm, and after a clutch fourth down conversion on their next drive, Foles found tight end Zach Ertz for what ended up being the game-deciding touchdown.
Although the game was largely dominated by offense (Foles threw just one interception and the Patriots never punted), the Eagles’ defense came up with the big play it needed when it mattered most as defensive end Brandon Graham stripped the ball from Brady and the Eagles recovered. That play led to another Philadelphia field goal to put them up by eight, and New England was unable to get far enough on the game’s final drive, throwing an incomplete, desperate hail mary to the endzone as time expired.
Foles, 29, who took over for second-year starting quarterback and MVP candidate Carson Wentz with three weeks to go in the regular season, was named Super Bowl MVP. Foles went 28 of 43 for 373 yards with three touchdowns, one interception, and one receiving touchdown.
“I think the big thing that helped me was knowing that I didn’t have to be Superman,” Foles said after the game. “I have amazing teammates, amazing coaches around me.”
Despite the loss, Brady also put up big numbers, completing 28 of 48 passes for a playoff-game record 505 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions, and one fumble. He praised the Eagles after the game, saying they played a better game and deserved to win.
Although Brady’s legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time is already cemented, the 40-year-old also said he has no plans to retire. “I’d like to process this a little bit,” he told reporters. “But I wouldn’t see why I wouldn’t be back.”