The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS–As their delirious fans sang their theme song and their owner lifted the Lombardi Trophy, the Philadelphia Eagles finally could breathe freely.
Yo, Philly, you really did beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a thrilling Super Bowl last night 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 defence came up with two stands in the final moments for a 41-33 victory.
For the first time since 1960, the Eagles are NFL champions.
“Fly Eagles Fly,” indeed.
“We’ve played this game since we were little kids, we dreamed about this moment,” said Foles, who was named the Super Bowl MVP.
“There’s plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment and someday will be here.”
In a record-setting shoot-out between back-up QB Foles and five-time champ Brady of the favoured Patriots, Foles led a pressure-packed 75-yard drive to the winning touchdown–11 yards to Ertz with 2:21 to go.
Then Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady and Derek Barnett recovered, setting up rookie Jake Elliot’s 46-yard field goal for an eight-point lead.
Brady got his team to midfield, but his desperation pass fell to the ground in the end zone on the final play of the game.
“For us, it was all about one stop we had to make,” Graham said.
“We went out here and made that one stop.”
The underdog Eagles (16-3), even 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 (16-3), 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 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 remarked.
“But I’m so glad they didn’t overturn it.”
The touchdown stood–and so did thousands of green-clad Eagles’ fans who weren’t going to mind the frigid conditions outside US Bank Stadium once they headed out to celebrate.
But not before a rousing rendition of “Fly Eagles Fly” reverberated throughout the stands once the trophy was presented to Lurie.
Later, fans danced along with the “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from “Rocky,” the city’s best-known fictional underdog.
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 post-season record 505 yards and three TDs, hitting Rob Gronkowski for four yards before Stephen Gostkowski’s extra point gave New England its first lead at 33-32.
Then Foles made Eagles’ fans forget Wentz–at least for now–with the gutsiest drive of his life.
“We couldn’t make a play to give the ball back to the offence,” 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 three TDs.
The combined 1,151 yards were the most in any modern NFL game.
The 40-year-old Brady 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 remarked.
“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 while 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–most of them decided by less than a touchdown.