Super Bowl 52 will go down in the history books as one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. There are so many different storylines surrounding this contest that if written in script form, people would deem it unbelievable and too far fetched. It was incredibly good, a little bad and sometimes ugly.
Nick Foles is undefeated in the post season. A QB who only 2 years ago was contemplating premature retirement after being cut by the Rams, led his team to an incredible victory over a Patriots team with ‘Tom Terrific’ under centre, a QB who holds almost every single post season record a QB can attain.
When a team loses its MVP QB as the Eagles did with Carson Wentz, they are supposed to resort to a simplified playbook with a backup that is expected to put up a good fight but ultimately lose. The Eagles scoffed at defeat and operated an astonishingly aggressive offensive strategy that only works if your quarterback is not only gifted, but almost flawless in execution. Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson, a man who was predicted to last mere months in his post according to some pundits, will go down in Eagles’ folklore for throwing traditional rationale out the window and going for it on 4th down multiple times in this game.
One play that will be atop many a Super Bowl best plays list for the coming decades is the ‘Philly Special’. Facing a diminishing clock at the end of the second quarter on a 4th and 1, the Eagles had the opportunity to kick a FG to go in at half time with a 6 point lead after the Patriots pulled the game back to a 15-12 scoreline. Instead, Foles fooled the Patriots defense by looking as if he was calling an audible at the line of scrimmage only for the ball to be snapped back to RB Corey Clement, handed off to backup TE Trey Burton and then lofted to Foles in the end zone. This play was the gutsiest play in Super Bowl history and in a game of small margins, was one that would ultimately prove vital in helping the Eagles secure the Lombardi Trophy.
Nick Foles was awarded the Super Bowl MVP at game’s end and he wholeheartedly deserved the accolade. He made some unbelievable long throws, something he has struggled with this year, read and targeted the weaker Patriots’ secondary when he saw a favourable matchup, recovered from an interception on the world’s biggest stage and made vital completions into triple coverage and on 4th down. Pederson will get the credit for calling an aggressive game but without execution, it is these playcalls that can ultimately be the downfall of an ambitious coach. If Foles had not completed these plays, Pederson would be seen as a naive and reckless playcaller. Instead, the Eagles HC will be heralded as a tactical genius.
Tom Brady is a fierce competitor. Some of the most iconic images of Brady over his long and illustrious career is of him commiserating an opposing QB on his way to lift yet another Lombardi Trophy. It was this very image that he deprived Nick Foles last night when, instead of jogging over to congratulate Foles’ incredible achievement as is customary, he opted instead to leave the field immediately.
The Patriots loss can be largely attributed to poor defensive play. Both offenses were potent on the night racking up the most total yards in NFL history with a mind boggling 1,151 but it was the Patriots defensive secondary that gave up big chunk plays and TDs to the Eagles receiving and running threats. In the same night Brady became the first QB to surpass 10,000 postseason yards, he also became the only QB in NFL history to pass for over 500 yards, 3 TDs and no picks and lose. The narrative that Brady choked in this game couldn’t be further from the truth.
The most accomplished signal caller in the game is often expected to be flawless but he certainly did his part in this game. It was ultimately his defensive team mates that succumbed to the Eagles aggressive and exotic offense on the night. Malcolm Butler, Super Bowl hero of days gone by, was also not utilised in this game apart from special teams which has raised eye brows and caused many people including the player himself to remark that had he played, the outcome would have been different.
There is a story circulating of a man called Phil Basser. He is a 99 year old Eagles fan who started supporting the team since their formation in 1933. His wish was to see his team win a Super Bowl before he turned 100. His team granted him this honour last night, right before his 100th birthday next month. This heart warming story of a loyal fan has been yet again mired by a fan base hell bent on destruction and news headlines.
Scenes from Philadelphia were absolutely shocking after the win. Images beamed around the world showed crowds blackening the streets of the city climbing poles, overturning cars, overcrowding a first floor balcony to collapse, which was met with cheers. At one point, fans were seen collectively tugging a traffic light pole until it bent and clattered to the tarmac. Other twitter videos show fans eating what the police horses of the city left behind on their rounds of the area in a bid to calm the celebrations in a particularly grotesque twist.
As a fan base go, the Philadelphia fan base are off the extreme. We witnessed families being intimidated with aggressive gestures and having closed beer cans showered upon them throughout the Playoffs in Philly. They make the Buffalo Bills fans, who have a penchant for theatrical beer chugging followed by table diving, look well behaved.
A Game for the Ages
This contest was one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. From the first play of the game to the last, it was crammed full of lead changes, incredible catches, aggressive 4th down completions and an underdog team toppling a dynastic super power. After a couple of years where the game seemed all but sealed at half time, this will live long in the memories of fans and neutrals around the globe.