By Steve Manzo
“Hungry dogs run faster.”
This was a quote from Eagles center Jason Kelce during his celebratory speech to describe the mentality of their team, and it certainly was an apt depiction. Philadelphia had starved to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and they are finally ready to feast.
On Feb. 4, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII. This marks their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history, and their first championship in 58 years. The Eagles won three previous NFL championships during the pre-Super Bowl era in 1948, 1949 and 1960.
In what will be remembered as one of the most action-packed Super Bowls in NFL history, Super Bowl most valuable player (MVP) Nick Foles went toe-to-toe with league MVP Tom Brady in an all-time quarterback showcase. Many questioned whether Foles had what it took to lead the Eagles past one of football’s all-time best players, but he certainly rose to the occasion in the brightest of lights. Foles lead the Eagles to victory with 373 yards passing and 3 passing touchdowns, while Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 505 passing yards on top of 3 touchdowns. Both teams combined for 1,151 total yards of offense, the highest total in any game in NFL history.
The game played out relatively routine until a critical moment in the waning moments of the first half. The Eagles were up 15-12 with 38 seconds to go, but were faced with fourth down at the one yard line. Instead of kicking the safe field goal, Foles and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson decided to run a gutsy trick play that is now dubbed “The Philly Special.” While Foles pretended to call out signals, they snapped the ball directly to running back Corey Clement, who pitched the ball to tight end Trey Burton who was coming from the left, who proceeded to throw the ball to a wide-open Foles in the end zone.
“We’ve had that play in probably the last three or four weeks; we’ve been working on it every week,” said Pederson in a post-game interview with NFL Network.
Following a halftime performance from Justin Timberlake, both teams started firing on all cylinders as they both went back and forth marching down the field. Neither team punted in the second half as the score ballooned to the second highest point total in Super Bowl history.
Every key member of the Eagles offense stepped up on the biggest of stages. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor finished off his comeback season by leading the team in catches with nine and picking up 84 yards. First-year Eagle and pro-bowler Alshon Jeffrey had three catches for 73 yards and a spectacular touchdown in the first quarter to give the team an early lead. Rookie Corey Clement showcased himself to the world by picking up 108 total yards and a touchdown. The two-headed rushing attack of LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi combined for 147 rushing yards on the ground with Blount running in a touchdown in the second quarter. These performances were vital in order to bring down a behemoth like the Patriots.
As with any all-time great game, the final result came down to the very end. As Brady was getting ready to give the Patriots the lead back with 2:16 left in the game, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham sacked Brady and caused him to fumble the football and turn the ball over to Philadelphia. After an Eagles field goal, the Patriots got one final chance as Brady heaved a Hail Mary down the field that went incomplete.
An accomplishment of that magnitude deserves a special celebration and the city of Philadelphia did just that by holding a parade on Feb. 8. Philly turned into a sea of green as thousands of fans from all over gathered and waited hours in the cold to see their champions ride on through Broad Street. The celebration capped off at the Philadelphia Art Museum where players and fans alike released 58 years worth of sadness and frustration and welcomed the dawn of a virtuous new era of winning.