What an electric Super Bowl we had this Sunday. Both offenses were clicking on all cylinders and defense was nowhere to be found. With 74 total points scored and 1,151 total yards of offense Super Bowl 52 will go down as THE highest offensive statistical outing in the history of the NFL (at least yardage wise). There were other records broken in this game but I think total yardage takes the cake with most notable (that and Tom Brady breaking the record for most passing yards in a postseason game with 505 passing yards). Enough about the statistics though. Here’s my take on how Nick Foles and the Eagles won the big game.
They exploited mismatches.
The Eagles picked on Eric Rowe early with their top wide out Alshon Jeffery, which was a serious mismatch. Jeffery had 3 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in the first half. It’s worth noting after putting Stephon Gilmore on Jeffery he was pretty quiet for the remainder of the game, because he went without a catch in the second half. Now I don’t know the reason for Belichick benching Malcom Butler, but I can tell you that is NOT the reason the Patriots lost this game. Sure there were a few times where Butler might have made a play, but the Patriots defense as a whole played pretty horrendous. Which is why it was easy for the Eagles offense to keep rolling.
They kept the pressure on Brady.
Even though there was only 1 sack in the game, the Eagles defense was definitely getting in Tom’s head. Brady took hit after hit and you could tell he was rattled because he was missing some pretty easy throws early on in the game. Which is very unlike him. Everyone always says if you want to beat the Patriots you’re going to have to get to Tom Brady.
They kept their composure.
The Patriots were mounting a serious comeback that finally put them ahead early in the 4th quarter, and what do the Eagles do? Mount a 14 play 75 yard drive to score a TD and put them back on top. Most players would be a bit rattled to see the greatest quarterback of all time mounting another one of his famous comebacks like he did last year against the Falcons, but not the Eagles offense. This 14 play methodical drive would prove pivotal to the Eagles win.
They made big plays when it mattered.
There were 3 plays that stood out to me as the keys to the Eagles victory over the Patriots. Two of these plays were made by Brandon Graham who should be noted as the defensive MVP for this game if they had such an accolade.
At the end of the first half the Patriots were trying to get some points on the board to make it a one score game. On their own 44 with 22 seconds and no timeouts the Patriots looked like they might be able to get into field goal range. Brady couldn’t find anyone and scrambled to the left trying to get out of bounds. The Eagles players knew Brady wasn’t going to get serious yardage and he was just trying to get out of bounds. But Brandon Graham knew if he got Brady before he made it to the sideline, a bunch of time would burn off the clock. Because of Grahams hustle the Patriots had to rush to the line at the 50 and spike it with 3 seconds left in the half. This pretty much gave them no shot to get any points before the half. This proves pivotal because when the Patriots scored on their first drive in the second half, the Eagles were still up by 3.
With 5:39 left in the 4th quarter the Eagles were down for the first time in the game and their drive stalled on their own 45 yard line. Being down by only 1 point the Eagles could have punted it away and still been within one score if the Patriots managed to score a touchdown. Instead Doug Peterson went for it on 4th and 1 to keep the drive alive and eventually score a touchdown to take a 38-33 lead. This 4th down conversion gave the Eagles the confidence and eventually the lead back, being the second pivotal play in their victory.
This was without a doubt the biggest play made by either defense in this game. This was the only sack in the game, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the Eagles pass rush wasn’t there. Brady was getting pressured all game and this just happened to be the one time he got hit a second earlier. This turnover gave the Eagles the ball on the New England 31 yard line and set up a field goal to give them an 8 point lead. Down 8 points now the Patriots needed to get all the way down the field, score a touchdown, AND get the 2 point conversion. Which eventually didn’t happen.
Written By: Jon Tetreault ( @jtetreault13 )