Eagles Buck Tradition, Knock Off Patriots in Thriller

More stories from Nick Skakal '20

The final scene in the script of this season in the NFL seemed destined to end the same as it has several times in recent years. The New England Patriots, Super Bowl favorites once again, had the ball with just over a minute left to play, their quarterback Tom Brady staring down the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense and poised to make another miraculous comeback. In a season which saw the Patriots in yet another Super Bowl, a nation of fans united against the “Evil Empire” saw an all too familiar scenario laid out before them.

They prepared for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time to lead his team down the field, score a touchdown, get the two-point conversion, and then take his team to victory in overtime defying all naysayers in the process. It happened in front of millions of viewers last year in their record setting comeback against Atlanta, which added to Tom Brady’s and Bill Belichick’s four previous titles. It seemed only fitting that it would happen again.

On the very last play of the game, Brady avoided a sack and launched a throw towards the end zone. All watching had visions of what was to come: a Patriots receiver on the other end, leaping up from a sea of other players to snatch the ball out of the air and score a touchdown, while everyone watched it unfold before them in slow motion.

The Eagles, however, had other plans. A host of defenders swarmed around tight end Rob Gronkowski, the target of Brady’s Hail Mary pass, and knocked the ball away from him. The ball bobbled on the surrounding players before harmlessly hitting the ground, rendering the pass incomplete.

The Eagles had done it. The Patriots had been defeated in what was truly a game for the ages, an offensive showdown that could be considered among the most entertaining Super Bowls ever played.

The Patriots’ offense was as potent as ever, even after top receiver Brandin Cooks left with an injury. The Eagles, on the other hand, were led by Nick Foles, who had an equally impressive evening and earned Super Bowl MVP as a result. Foles and Eagles as a whole stood up to the Patriots when most, myself included, counted them out. They had been expected to put up a fight, but eventually succumb to the superior team. Instead, they led for most of the game and continued to match the Patriots’ scoring efforts once New England really got going.

For New England, it was a game of missed opportunities. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed both a field goal and extra point. Tom Brady dropped a wide open pass on a trick play he might have had a chance to score on. And in one of the most puzzling moves of the evening, top cornerback Malcolm Butler played just one snap all night, and it was on special teams. The Patriots certainly played well for their part and kept themselves in the game, but as in every game, defining moments become apparent in hindsight, and New England couldn’t come up big in these moments.

All in all, it was a Super Bowl to be remembered. An offensive showdown which saw multiple records set, just one punt, and a result seeing Philadelphia win their first Super Bowl provided for a night of great entertainment and a feel-good story. And one has to think that’s what the Super Bowl is all about.