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Super Bowl 2018 live blog: Eagles outlast Patriots in thriller

Philadelphia beat the Pats in one of the most explosive games in NFL history.

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Postgame

Some stats:

  • Total yards: Patriots 613, Eagles 538.
  • Third down conversions: Eagles 10-for-16, Patriots 5-for-10.
  • Foles — sorry, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles — went 28-for-43 for 373 yards, three touchdowns, and a touchdown reception. Nick Foles did that!
  • Brady in a losing effort: 28-for-48 for 505 yards and three touchdowns. He took just one sack and threw no picks, but the one sack was a killer.
  • Corey Clement (PHI): three carries for eight yards, four catches for 100 yards.
  • LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi (PHI): 23 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown.
  • Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan (NE): 19 targets, 14 catches, 280 yards, one score.
  • Rob Gronkowski (NE): 15 targets, nine catches, 116 yards, two touchdowns.
  • Zach Ertz (PHI): nine targets, seven catches, 67 yards, and a touchdown.
  • Brandon Graham (PHI): the game’s only sack

Fourth Quarter

0:00. WOOOOOOO, that was close. Brady escapes pressure and throws a Hail Mary in the direction of Gronk and company. The ball rolls off of Gronk’s helmet and bounces around for an extra heart beat but falls to the turf. Philadelphia has its first Super Bowl title.

0:09. Ronald Darby nearly picks off a pass intended for Phillip Dorsett.

0:13. Trickeration backfires. The Pats attempt a reverse on the kick return, but Bryan Braman stops Burkhead at the NE 9. New England has to go 91 yards in 56 seconds.

The Pats gain zero. Brady throws incomplete to Hogan, White, and, under increasing pressure. Amendola. On fourth-and-10, he finds Amendola over the middle to the 22 and spikes the ball with 26 seconds left.

Gronkowski gains 11 yards and gets out of bounds with 20 seconds left, then gains 16 more and gets out of bounds with 13 seconds left. The Pats are at least within Hail Mary range. Philly calls timeout. Brady has 505 passing yards.

1:05. EAGLES 41, PATRIOTS 33. Elliott nails it. Onions.

1:10. Philly runs one more time to work the clock, and Blount gets nothing up the middle. The Eagles call timeout with 1:10 left, facing a 44-yard field goal attempt with a rookie kicker.

2:00. Blount gains two yards, and New England uses its final timeout. Blount gains another three yards, and it’s a third-and-5 at the two-minute warning.

2:09. FUMBLE. WOW. The first sack of the night is enormous. End Brandon Graham comes on an inside rush and strips Brady. Rookie Derek Barnett recovers at the NE 31.

If you’ve only got one sack to spend all night, this is a pretty good time for it.

2:21. EAGLES 38, PATRIOTS 33. A quick pass to Agholor on the left gains 10 yards to the NE 14, and after a three-yard Blount run, New England calls its second timeout with 2:30 left.

After a fade to Jeffery falls harmlessly incomplete, it’s third-and-7 from the 11: the Eagles distract the Pats with quick motion to the right, and Foles hits Ertz on a one-on-one slant to the left. Ertz takes three steps and dives into the end zone. The ball comes loose after he hits the ground, but it’s an obvious touchdown. Replay confirms. Eagles lead.

Up five points, the Eagles go for two. Foles rolls right and fires incomplete to Clement. If Philly hadn’t gone for two so much earlier in the game, they could have kicked the PAT and gone up 7.

3:07. After James Harrison stuffs Blount, Foles rolls right and hits Agholor for 10 yards and a first down to the NE 42. Then he fires a ball into a tight window to Agholor over the middle for 18 more yards. Chung gets up slowly. Timeout on the field.

4:47. After a deep jump ball to Smith falls incomplete, Foles hits a slanting Ertz on third-and-6 from the 29 to move the chains as the clock ticks under eight minutes., but Patrick Chung sticks Clement short of the chains on second down, then Devin McCourty stops Smith for no gain on third-and-1.

Fourth-and-1, under six minutes to go against this Patriots offense? You go for it. Foles is pressured but hits Ertz for just enough.

Philly calls timeout with the ball at its 47. The going is getting a little tougher.

9:22. PATRIOTS 33, EAGLES 32. New England comes out running. Three Burkhead carries gain 17 yards, then quick passes to Hogan and Amendola work the ball into Eagle territory, then Brady finds Amendola wide open for 30 yards to the Philly 17. Philly’s defense is starting to look gassed.

A screen to Amendola works the ball to the 8, then White sets up a first-and-goal with a four-yard run up the middle. After Brady fires low to White, he fires high to Gronkowski in the left corner of the end zone. Another Gronk TD.

Gostkowski’s PAT is true, and the Pats have the lead.

Brady is now 24-for-38 for 457 yards and three touchdowns. Goodness.

14:09. EAGLES 32, PATRIOTS 26. Just as the second quarter began with a third-and-short getting beaten, Marquis Flowers destroys a screen to Agholor to start the fourth. Elliott makes a 42-yard field goal, however, and Philly’s lead is back up to six.

Six isn’t seven, though, is it? The Eagles could be trailing the next time they get the ball.

Third Quarter

0:00. Philly keeps firing away. Passes to Agholor and Smith gain 41 yards, and the Eagles are quickly back inside the New England 40. After a short run by Blount, and end around to Agholor picks up nine and moves the chains.

The third quarter ends with Philly facing a third-and-3 from the New England 16. There have been a Super Bowl-record 962 total yards in this game. And there are 15 minutes left.

3:23. EAGLES 29, PATRIOTS 26. After a holding penalty on Philly’s Corey Graham moves the ball out to the Pats’ 31, Brady hits Hogan for 15 yards to near midfield. The Monmouth product now has four catches for 98 yards.

Two Lewis carries gain nine yards, then Brady finds Amendola downfield to the Philly 26. Then it’s Hogan again: another pretty play fake gets him open, and Brady finds him for a 26-yard score.

Brady has 403 passing yards in ~43 minutes, and the Pats still trail by three.

7:18. EAGLES 29, PATRIOTS 19. New England’s defense has been far better after halftime this year, but you couldn’t tell it on this drive. After an illegal block on the kick return, Philly opens at its 15. Agholor can’t quite reel in a pass along the sideline, but breaks a tackle on third-and-6 and races upfield to the 36. Blount moves the ball into Pats territory, then an Ajayi cutback to the right sets up a third-and-1 from the Pats’ 40.

From there, Foles goes to his tight end, Ertz, on a beautiful play-fake and gains 14 yards. Two plays later on third-and-6, Foles fires a beautiful pass to Clement in the back of the end zone, and it looks like the running back can’t quite get a second foot down in bounds after juggling. It is initially ruled a touchdown, and Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth assume replay will overturn it.

The call stands, however. Touchdown.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

12:15. EAGLES 22, PATRIOTS 19. Gronk show. The first three plays of the second half all target the star tight end, and Brady completes two of them for 49 yards. Two plays later, on third-and-6 from the Philly 22, it’s Brady to Gronk again for 14 yards. And after a short run by White, it’s Gronk again. Five-yard touchdown.

Pretty sure I know what New England decided its halftime adjustments would be.

Oh, and...

Halftime

Some stats:

  • Nick Foles: 13-for-22, 215 yards, one touchdown, the tipped INT, and a one-yard touchdown catch.
  • Tom Brady: 12-for-23 for 276 yards, plus the dropped pass.
  • Philly backs (Blount, Ajayi, and Clement): 13 carries for 107 yards and a score, plus two catches for 71 yards.
  • James White: six combined rushes and receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.
  • Hogan and Amendola: nine targets, six catches, 158 yards.
  • Total yards: Patriots 350 (9.7 per play), Eagles 323 (9.0). Two total tackles for loss. Goodness. They did say college offenses have made their way to the pros...

Second Quarter

0:00. Brady finds Phillip Dorsett for 19 yards, and the Pats use their final timeout. Brady is forced to scramble but can’t get out of bounds, and a spike sets up one final first-half snap, a 27-yard screen to Amendola. No dice. The first half ends with 673 yards, 34 points, and a 10-point Philly lead.

0:34. EAGLES 22, PATRIOTS 12. The Eagles are going for it! Cris Collinsworth calls it an unbelievable call, and while the math disagrees vociferously with that, the play call itself is pretty unbelievable: direct snap to Clement, who pitches to tight end (and high school quarterback) Trey Burton, who throws back to Foles. Touchdown.

0:38. Foles again tries to isolate Jeffery on Gilmore, his old South Carolina roommate. There’s contact but no flag. Fourth down. The Eagles act like they’re going to go for it, then call time out.

0:41. Another Clement carry gets to the NE 1, and New England uses its second timeout.

0:45. Damn. After Kenjon Barner rips off a solid kick return and Ertz gains seven yards, Foles lobs a ball to Clement, who makes a nasty run all the way to the New England 8. Fifty-five yards.

Then the former Wisconsin back bulls forward for six yards to the two. New England calls timeout.

2:04. EAGLES 15, PATRIOTS 12. Gronk nearly returns the favor for the Eagles; he’s hit hard on a second-and-6 pass and nearly bats it into the air like Jeffery. Then Mills gets called for holding Hogan to move the chains. Two plays later, Hogan beats him over the top, hauling in a 43-yard bomb down the right sideline.

On the very next snap, White beats a series of poor tackles and races into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown.

Seven plays, 90 yards, under three minutes. Damn. But the day’s kicker nightmares continue — Gostkowski shanks the PAT wide.

5:01. INTERCEPTION. Philly begins its next drive with an Ertz false start; it is but a brief inconvenience. Foles finds Smith for 10 yards in the face of a blitz, and then Ajayi breaks for 26 yards and a first down.

It’s time to go deep again, but New England gets lucky. Not only can Jeffery not quite reel in a long ball, but he ends up batting it into the air for the Patriots’ Duron Harmon. Pick. Harmon returns it to the NE 10.

7:24. EAGLES 15, PATRIOTS 6. New England starts its next drive with a beautifully executed screen to Rex Burkhead; his first touch of the game ends up going for 46 yards before Corey Graham tracks him down at the Philly 29.

Two passes to Amendola gain just two yards, though, and Philly blows up a third-down screen to White. A 45-yard attempt by Gostkowski is perfect.

  • Scoring opportunities: Eagles 3, Pats 3
  • Points per scoring opportunity: Eagles 5.0, Pats 2.0

8:48. EAGLES 15, PATRIOTS 3. Ertz’s first big contribution of the game comes on a third-and-7. After two Ajayi carries gain three yards, Foles finds his favorite tight end over the middle for a 19-yard catch-and-rumble.

Foles overshoots Jeffery on first down from the New England 43, but he makes up for it with a gorgeous teardrop lob to Jeffery for 22 yards to the NE 21.

From there, it’s Blount. The former Patriots back bursts upfield on an outside zone run.

Philly elects to go for two — a little early for that maybe? — but Foles can’t hit Jeffery. Philly’s up 12.

11:53. Guh. Brady finds a wide open Cooks for a gain of 23, but while dancing and looking for more yards, he is blindsided by Malcolm Jenkins. He lies motionless on the ground for a bit and is taken to the locker room and ruled out of the game with a head injury.

On the next play, Jenkins — quite lucky to not have been called for targeting — nearly picks off a pass intended for White. After a five-yard gain by Dion Lewis, Brady ... drops a pass? A double reverse ends up in Amendola’s hands, but the receiver ever so slightly overshoots his 40-year old quarterback.

Out of field goal range, New England goes for it on fourth-and-5, and Brady is hit hard as he lobs incomplete for Gronk. Philly takes over.

13:11. Quick three-and-out for Philly. Ajayi gains only two yards on first down, then Foles throws two incompletions under pressure. The first punt of the game is fair caught at the New England 37.

14:13. Now THAT’s a way to start a quarter. Brandin Cooks takes an end around right and tries to hurdle Rodney McLeod. It does not work. McLeod catches him and throws him down short of the sticks...

...and then a bad snap causes Gostkowski to hit the upright on a 26-yard field goal. Potentially a huge two plays there.

First Quarter

0:00. A Gronk false start — the first playoff penalty against the New England offense — knocks the Pats off-schedule to start their second drive, but Philly chooses a bad time to blow a coverage. On third-and-7, Brady hangs in the pocket and finds a wide open Danny Amendola for 50 yards down the left sideline.

The Pats go no-huddle, and Brady finds Hogan for 12 to the Philly 17, then two White carries gain eight yards. The second quarter will begin with New England facing a third-and-2.

2:34. EAGLES 9, PATRIOTS 3. After another pass to Agholor gains seven, LeGarrette Blount sets up another Philly scoring opportunity with a 36-yard rumble to the NE 34. Then it’s time to take a shot. Foles goes deep for Jeffery, and the South Carolina product beats Eric Rowe. Touchdown.

Elliott’s PAT hooks on him, though, and sails wide.

Ouch.

4:17. PATRIOTS 3, EAGLES 3. James White, hero of last year’s Super Bowl (okay, one of the heroes), gets things started for New England with a 15-yard catch-and-run, and after a 12-men penalty on Philly, an underneath pass to Chris Hogan picks up another 28. Just like that, New England’s inside the Philadelphia 30.

Hogan takes an end-around for four yards, then a play-action pass to Rob Gronkowski gains nine more. From the 14, another pass to White gains eight, then White gets stuffed to set up the Pats’ first third down. They do not convert. Jalen Mills jumps on a pass to Gronk and breaks it up. Stephen Gostkowski’s 26-yard attempt is good, and we’re tied.

7:55. EAGLES 3, PATRIOTS 0. Philly starts at its 26 and comes out passing. Two quick passes to Nelson Agholor gain six yards, and on the first third down of the game, Nick Foles scrambles a bit to his left and hits Alshon Jeffery for 17. Kyle Van Noy eats up the first rush of the game, then Torrey Smith can’t hold onto an RPO pass to the right. But on third-and-12, a Foles-to-Smith pass gains 15 to the Pats’ 38.

Foles keeps it going. He finds Zach Ertz for seven, and after two Jay Ajayi carries gain 10 yards, a screen to Corey Clement gains 16 to set up a first-and-goal. But the Pats stiffen, with help from a false start penalty. Two Foles incompletions mean Jake Elliott has to come in for a 25-yard field goal. He makes it, but field goals probably won’t beat the Pats.

15:00. New England wins the toss and elects to defer. Eagles will get the ball first.

Some initial thoughts:

  1. Finish drives, Eagles. New England’s defense is far less efficient than a championship team’s should be, but the Pats are really good at stopping you short. Take full advantage of the chances you get, avoid settling for field goals, and that might be enough.
  2. Watch the field position game. That’s the other way the Pats get away with such a bend-don’t-break approach.
  3. The transition from guys like Ronnie Lott and Roger Staubach to Nick Foles in that opening song/montage was jarring.
  4. Also jarring: Eagles fans are so loud that Al Michaels seemed thrown when he was talking in the pregame. It’s pretty easy for neutral-field games to sound pretty sterile on TV. Not so much here.
  5. Oh, Will.

PHILLY IS IN THE BUILDING! #FlyEaglesFly #SBLII

A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith) on


Pregame

Preview by Alex Kirshner.

The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles meet Sunday in Minneapolis for Super Bowl 52. NBC will televise the game, with streaming available here. The game is slated to kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET, which is 5:30 p.m. Minneapolis time.

If the Patriots win, it will net the organization a sixth Lombardi Trophy, with all coming since the turn of the century under owner Bob Kraft, coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady. A win would tie New England with Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowl championships — including two in a row and three in four years.

The Eagles have never won the Super Bowl and last appeared in the game in 2005, when the Patriots beat them. This is their third appearance in total and the Patriots’ 10th.

Both teams were the No. 1 seeds in their conference playoffs. The Patriots are between a 4- and 4.5-point favorite at most sportsbooks. They got here by beating the Titans in the AFC Divisional Round and coming back to topple the Jaguars in the conference championship game two weeks ago. The Eagles beat the Falcons and Vikings en route to this game.

The Patriots have some structural advantages. The simplest is that their quarterback is the best of all time, while the Eagles are starting backup Nick Foles. Philadelphia’s MVP candidate, Carson Wentz, tore an ACL in December and was lost for the season.

New England has a prototypical bend-but-don’t-break defense. The Patriots give up a lot of yardage but have been one of the best teams in the league at keeping points off the board. The Eagles have one of the best red-zone offenses in the league, and how they do when they get deep into New England territory might decide the game.

No matter the result, all available evidence points to a close game. The teams are relatively evenly matched, though Philadelphia’s quarterback situation is a severe disadvantage against the future Hall of Fame inductee Brady. All seven of the Patriots’ prior Super Bowl appearances this millennium have come down to a six-point margin or less, with the most lopsided score coming in overtime against the Falcons last year.

Justin Timberlake will headline the halftime show. The venue is the Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, which has a standard capacity of about 67,000.