MINNEAPOLIS — As their delirious fans sang their theme song and their owner lifted the Lombardi Trophy, the Philadelphia Eagles finally could breathe freely.
Yo, Philly, you really did beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a Super Bowl that rewrote the offensive record book.
Nick Foles guided the drive of a lifetime, Zach Ertz made a bobbling touchdown catch that had to survive replay review, and an exhausted defense came up with not one but two stands in the final moments Sunday for a 41-33 victory. For the first time since 1960 — half a dozen years before the Super Bowl was formed — the Eagles are NFL champions.
“Fly Eagles Fly,” indeed.
“We’ve played this game since we were little kids, we dreamed about this moment,” game MVP Foles said. “There’s plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment and someday will be here.”
In a record-setting shootout between backup QB Foles and five-time champ Brady of the favored Patriots, Foles led a pressure-packed 75-yard drive to the winning touchdown, 11 yards to Ertz with 2:21 to go.
Then Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady and Derek Barnett recovered, setting up rookie Jake Elliot’s 46-yard field goal for an eight-point lead.
Brady got his team to midfield, but his desperation pass fell to the ground in the end zone.
“For us, it was all about one stop we had to make. We went out here and made that one stop,” Graham said.
The underdog Eagles, even injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz, came bolting off the sideline in ecstasy while Brady sat on the ground, disconsolate.
It was the first Super Bowl title for Philadelphia (16-3), which went 7-9 last season.
“If there’s a word (it’s) called everything,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “That’s what it means to Eagles fans everywhere. And for Eagles fans everywhere, this is for them.”
Foles orchestrated the victory with the kind of drive NFL MVP Brady is known for. The series covered 14 plays, including a fourth-down conversion.
“I felt calm. I mean, we have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff,” Foles said. “We felt confident coming in, and we just went out there and played football.”
The Eagles had to survive a video replay because the ball popped into the air as Ertz crossed the goal line.
“If they would have overturned that, I don’t know what would have happened to the city of Philadelphia,” Ertz said. “But I’m so glad they didn’t overturn it.”
The Patriots (15-4) seemed ready to take their sixth title with Brady and coach Bill Belichick in eight Super Bowls. Brady threw for a game-record 505 yards and three TDs, hitting Rob Gronkowski for 4 yards before Stephen Gostkowski’s extra point gave New England its first lead, 33-32.
Then Foles made them forget Wentz — and least for now — with the gutsiest drive of his life.
“We couldn’t make a play to give the ball back to the offense,” Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said.
Foles has been something of a journeyman in his six pro seasons, but he has been spectacular in four career playoff games. He finished 28 of 43 for 373 yards and three TDs.
The combined 1,151 yards were the most in any modern NFL game, and Brady’s 505 were the most in any playoff contest. The 40-year-old finished 28 of 48 and picked apart the Eagles until the final two series.
Brady indicated he will return for a 19th season even as Gronkowski was hedging on his future.
“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.”
Gronkowski, who has played eight superb but injury-riddled years, said “I am definitely going to look at my future.”
It was such a wild game that Foles caught a touchdown pass, and Brady was on the opposite end of a Danny Amendola throw that went off his fingertips.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson brought home the championship in his second year in charge. Belichick is 5-3 in Super Bowls and his teams have only a plus-4 overall margin in those games.
So this one was in keeping with that trend: breathtaking and even a bit bizarre.
Brady and the Patriots looked ready for another comeback by opening the second half with a 75-yard touchdown drive. Gronkowski was unstoppable, grabbing four passes for 69 yards, including the 5-yard score.
Philly didn’t flinch, answering with a precise 75-yard march and three more third-down conversions; the Eagles were 10-for-16. The last was on Foles’ perfect pass to former University of Wisconsin back Corey Clement over double coverage. The rookie’s reception was upheld by review, and the Eagles were back on top by 10.
Brady shrugged and, getting steadfast protection, connected with Chris Hogan from the 26 for another touchdown.
When all the Eagles could manage was Elliott’s 42-yarder for a 32-26 lead, it seemed inevitable the Patriots would go in front, then become the first repeat Super Bowl winner since they did it in the 2004 and ’05 games.
Foles, Ertz, and — at last — a revitalized defense said otherwise.
Philadelphia 9 13 7 12 — 41
New England 3 9 14 7 — 33
Phi — FG Elliott 25, 7:55.
NE — FG Gostkowski 26, 4:17.
Phi — Jeffery 34 pass from Foles (kick failed), 2:34.
Phi — Blount 21 run (pass failed), 8:48.
NE — FG Gostkowski 45, 7:24.
NE — White 26 run (kick failed), 2:04.
Phi — Foles 1 pass from Burton (Elliott kick), :34.
NE — Gronkowski 5 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 12:15.
Phi — Clement 22 pass from Foles (Elliott kick), 7:18.
NE — Hogan 26 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 3:23.
Phi — FG Elliott 42, 14:09.
NE — Gronkowski 4 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 9:22.
Phi — Ertz 11 pass from Foles (pass failed), 2:21.
Phi — FG Elliott 46, 1:05.
Att. — 67,612.
First downs 25 29
Total Net Yards 538 613
Rushes-yards 27-164 22-113
Passing 374 500
Punt Returns 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns 4-98 3-44
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-8
Comp-Att-Int 29-44-1 28-49-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 1-5
Punts 1-41.0 0-0.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-35 1-5
Time of Possession 34:04 25:56
RUSHING — Philadelphia, Blount 14-90, Ajayi 9-57, Agholor 1-9, Clement 3-8. New England, White 7-45, Lewis 9-39, Burkhead 3-18, Brady 1-6, Hogan 1-4, Cooks 1-1.
PASSING — Philadelphia, Foles 28-43-1-373, Burton 1-1-0-1. New England, Brady 28-48-0-505, Amendola 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Philadelphia, Agholor 9-84, Ertz 7-67, Smith 5-49, Clement 4-100, Jeffery 3-73, Foles 1-1. New England, Gronkowski 9-116, Amendola 8-152, Hogan 6-128, White 2-21, Burkhead 1-46, Cooks 1-23, Dorsett 1-19.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — New England, Gostkowski 26.