Eagles Championship Solidifies Chaotic Season
A True Underdog Story
The back and forth affair created a classic with the most collective yards of any postseason game to date. The all-time matchup between arguably the greatest quarterback to step on a gridiron in Brady versus career journeyman Foles proved far greater as a football spectacle than what was perceived on paper.
With barely any penalties, punts or turnovers, every drive and play continued to grow with importance each passing minute. After the Eagles led by 10 at the Justin Timberlake break, Brady and Belichick were ready for their patented comeback.
But Doug Pederson and Nick Foles never fell into the New England trap. Dropping 12 points in the final frame to stop the impending doom; the unlikeliest scenario happened. Foles converted a pivotal fourth down on the go-ahead drive of the game. Meanwhile, Brady committed a pivotal turnover after Brandon Graham’s strip sack with just two minutes to go.
A Legend Falls
While Brady defeated MVP winners Kurt Warner and Matt Ryan, Eagles legend Donovan McNabb, superstar Russell Wilson and one-time Pro Bowler Jake Delhomme; he faltered to Nick Foles and the pedestrian Eli Manning.
Brady didn’t leave the Minneapolis dome without a memorable performance, however. Completing 28 of 48 passes for 505 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 115. Unfortunately, all will be remembered for his dropped pass from Danny Amendola.
To add insult to injury, the Eagles ran a near identical play that led to Trey Burton’s touchdown throw to his quarterback. Foles ended the day with three passing scores and a receiving touchdown.
An Unlikely Cast
Foles was the first backup to win the Lombardi since the obstacle that laid ahead of him, Brady himself.
In such a perplexing year, there was only one repeat NFC playoff team; the defending conference champion Atlanta Falcons. The dark horse contender Giants fell apart at the threads while Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone, ending Green Bay’s chances for another Super Bowl. The old and entitled Seahawk defense floundered with injuries.
Meanwhile, rookie head coach Sean McVay won coach of the year after flipping a malignant four win Rams squad to an NFC West title. Case Keenum guided Minnesota to a second seed with undrafted Adam Thielen, backup halfback Latavius Murray and unidentified flying objects on the defensive side.
Rookie back Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing. Alex Smith was an elite quarterback. And Tyrod Taylor broke the Buffalo Bills’ curse and guided Bills Mafia to the postseason for the first time since 1999. Jacksonville went to the AFC title game with Blake Bortles under center. And Jimmy Garoppolo remained undefeated despite playing for a team with one prior win.
With quite the chaotic campaign, it would make sense that New England, the oldest and strongest dynasty in football today, would feast and capitalize on the changing climate of the NFL. Instead, they fell victim.
Seth Wickersham’s piece on the potential collapse of the New England empire revealed the cracks beneath the once impenetrable fortress. The chaos consumed the Patriots. The future of Brady, Belichick, and Rob Gronkowski are unknown. 28 total New England players are free agents this offseason.
While the northeast remains melancholic on the result, the NFL came full circle. Pederson avenged Andy Reid by defeating the team Reid fell to 13 years ago. And Pederson’s Super Bowl journey started as an assistant for Reid on the Chiefs.
With New England possibly ending their run of dominance with assistant coaches leaving, and then not leaving, and the future of the Patriot trifecta unknown; their storied run completed the circle of life.
New England’s prosperity started with the “tuck rule” where Michigan’s Charles Woodson stripped Michigan’s, Tom Brady. The controversial call was overturned, leading to Brady’s first Super Bowl title. 16 years later, ex-Michigan player Graham strip-sacked Brady, possibly ending the totalitarian dynasty.
If this is how New England falls, let it be known that the chaos ensued them with Foles providing the final blow on arguably the greatest era of dominance the NFL has ever seen.