In one of the greatest ever Super Bowls, underdogs Philadelphia Eagles were able to defeat New England Patriots 41-33 to claim their first ever championship.
But just how were they able to do it?
Sport360’s Chris Bailey and Jay Asser breakdown the key moments from a memorable game, in which back-up quarterback Nick Foles produced an MVP performance.
The signature moment from the Eagles’ 41-33 triumph over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII was an out-of-the-box trick play that began with the ball taken out of the quarterback’s hands, only for it to end up in them in a surprising twist.
‘Philly Special’ the play was called, and it was dialled up on a critical fourth-and-goal at the end of the first half, resulting in a direct snap to running back Corey Clement, who pitched it to tight end Trey Burton, who tossed it to Nick Foles in the end zone.
It was one of two fourth-down attempts and conversions for the Eagles, who seemingly executed every unconventional move Pederson called for.
“I trust my players, I trust my coaches and I trust my instincts,” Pederson said. “I trust everything I’m doing, and I want to maintain that aggressiveness. In games like this, against a great opponent, you have to make those tough decisions that way and keep yourself aggressive.”
Philadelphia players were emboldened by their coach’s confidence, with Burton saying: “Our coach has got some guts, huh? Got some big ones.”
Brady isn’t going anywhere
This time, Tom Brady wasn’t celebrating as the confetti fell and covered the inside of U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Losing sucks,” Brady said.
The Patriots quarterback tasted Super Bowl defeat for the third time in his career, in spite of throwing for a record 505 yards and three touchdowns. Just a day earlier, he had earned his third MVP award for another magnificent season at the age of 40.
With no decline apparent, Brady stated there’s no reason why he wouldn’t return next season for his 19th year.
“I mean it’s 15 minutes after the game ended, so I’d like to process this a little bit,” Brady said. “I wouldn’t see why I wouldn’t be back.”
What did the Butler do?
Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler inexplicably didn’t see the field for a single defensive snap in a game New England allowed 41 points and 538 yards of offence.
“They gave up on me,” Butler told ESPN. “F***. It is what it is.”
Former Patriots corner Brandon Browner defended Malcolm Butler and blasted Bill Belichick in a series of IG posts tonight. Said Bill "lost the game for us." pic.twitter.com/3GWTZ1UHgc— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) February 5, 2018
Eric Rowe started in place of Butler, who only saw playing time on special teams despite being a regular starter at cornerback this season.
“It was a coach’s decision… I don’t know what it was,” Butler said. “I guess I wasn’t playing good. They didn’t feel comfortable. I could have changed that game, though.”
Bill Belichick claimed after the game the decision was not a disciplinary move, but instead based on the game plan.
Super Bowl LII isn’t even 24 hours old yet, but the fallout from the game has inspired some interesting questions going forward.
Here are three topics of discussion to keep an eye on as we head into the offseason.
Who will buy high on Foles?
Back-up-turned-starter Nick Foles just pulled off an improbable run to the title and aside from bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia, the Super Bowl MVP could soon be netting the franchise assets to bolster a championship-winning roster.
The Eagles aren’t turning their backs on Carson Wentz, their franchise quarterback who was an MVP frontrunner before suffering an ACL tear in Week 14. He’ll return under centre when he’s healthy, with all signs pointing to that being the start of next season. And while Foles won’t be a free agent this offseason, there’s a strong chance he’s on another team by summertime.
For one, Foles’ stock will never be higher than it is now after he just proved he’s not only a starter in the league, but one who can win you a Super Bowl. And secondly, his contract is structured in such a way that if he’s still on Philadelphia’s roster come February 2019, the final three years of his deal will be void and he’ll hit a free agency.
Expect the Eagles to field plenty of offers for Foles over the coming months and strike while the iron is hot.
McDaniels replacing Belichick?
Realize there's 'chatter' out there, but I've been told Colts are moving ahead as planned. Fully expect Josh McDaniels next HC. Maybe an announcement Tuesday and a presser Wed or Thurs.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) February 5, 2018
While it’s nothing definitive, it is a bombshell nonetheless because McDaniels was expected to fill Indianapolis’ head coaching vacancy all along and leave New England like defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who will take the Detroit job.
McDaniels refused to talk about the speculation after the Super Bowl loss, so it’s still unclear if he’s going or not. But it certainly wouldn’t help his reputation if he backs out of an unofficial acceptance of the Colts job.
But maybe McDaniels doesn’t care because he’s gotten word from Bill Belichick that the Patriots’ head coaching position will be open sooner than later. It would be a surprise if Belichick called it quits now, but in a couple years or so? That wouldn’t be out of the question at all. McDaniels could be happy biding a little more time.
Gronk spike no more?
The most interesting quote anyone with the Patriots gave on the topic of retirement after the Super Bowl defeat was shockingly Rob Gronkowski.
The 28-year-old tight end is at the top of his game and in his prime as arguably the greatest player at his position ever, but Gronkowski was noncommittal about his future, saying: I’m going to sit down the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at.”
Rob Gronkowski was asked about his playing future following Super Bowl LII and he did not deny retirement rumors. pic.twitter.com/7tl72uCNlq— NESN (@NESN) February 5, 2018
You can understand where Gronk is coming from as he’s suffered multiple devastating injuries in his career and was just in concussion protocol ahead of the Super Bowl. Even with his size, he takes massive punishment from hard-hitting defensive players and plays a physical style.
But this isn’t the first time a player has publicly mulled retirement after their season ended in unsavoury fashion. The Super Bowl especially is an emotional game, which often leaves players looking inward in the immediate aftermath. It’s possible that after sleeping on it for a few days or weeks, Gronkowski will feel differently.
If it is somehow the end for Gronk, it’s been one special career.