Brady, New England falls


The world already knew what was going to happen with two minutes left, a 5-point Eagles lead and Tom Brady marching onto the field. We've seen this movie before: Brady would lead his team 75 yards for another miraculous comeback and a sixth Super Bowl.

Except it didn't happen. Philadelphia's Brandon Graham got to Brady for the first sack of the game and forced the ball loose, which the Eagles immediately covered.

Super Bowl 52 offered numerous big plays, blunders and head-scratching calls (by coaches and officials) before it ended with the first Super Bowl in Philadelphia Eagles history by a score of 41-33.

The last person to blame was Brady. The 40-year-old had maybe his best Super Bowl yet statistically with more than 500 yards, a record in the big game. In fact, New England's offense was stellar. After a quiet first half, Rob Gronkowski led the team in catches and recorded 116 yards and two touchdowns. Danny Amendola added 150 more yards and Chris Hogan added 128.

The demise of the Patriots could be found on the other side of the ball. Despite consistently giving up yards, the 2017 Patriots were very good at keeping their opponents off of the scoreboard for the majority of the season. This was not the case in the Super Bowl. Head Coach Bill Belichick opted to bench star cornerback Malcolm Butler about an hour before the game, a decision no one will be able to properly justify, especially Belichick.

Nick Foles played another outstanding game and was named Super Bowl MVP after 3 touchdown passes and 373 yards. He also caught a touchdown pass on a fourth and goal play in the first half. He seemed to find big plays throughout the night to running back Corey Clement and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. The game-winning touchdown went to tight end Zach Ertz.

The score to Ertz appeared to bring into question once more the NFL catch rule, which everyone seems to have a different opinion on. It was a similar play to Jesse James of the Steelers, whose catch was ruled incomplete in a week 15 loss to the Patriots. This, however, was upheld. It appeared as if Ertz took a few strides, dove for the goal line and crossed it before the ball came loose. He was ruled a runner, where James was still ruled a receiver at the time.

The play occurred on third down and the Eagles probably would've taken a lead with a field goal anyways before the strip sack, but it was an earlier catch that was most controversial. Halfway through the third, the Eagles took a 10-point lead after a third down catch in the back of the end zone by Clement. While he caught it at first, he appeared to lose possession and his foot clearly touched the white out-of-bounds markings. This was the wrong call, and the Eagles should've had to settle for 3 points.

Still, the Eagles offense moved the ball with ease in dire situations and the Patriots were unable to record a crucial stop all night. They seemed to do the impossible: beat New England in a high-scoring affair. If you told Tom Brady he'd get 33 points against a strong Eagles defense, that didn't really make any big plays until the end, he would've surely thought he'd win his sixth.

There were some blunders early in the game. The Patriots only managed 3 points in three possessions inside Philadelphia's 35-yard line in the first half. They were very effective offensively, but did leave at least 7-10 more points on the field.

Some of the calls can and certainly will be debated for quite some time, but New England was just not stiff enough on defense to win this game. This blame falls on Belichick. Whether you want to pin it on the Butler decision or not, I think it's clear he underestimated an opponent he had two weeks to prepare for. Benching one of your stronger defenders isn't leadership or genius, but arrogance. Belichick and the defense cost them this game.

As for the Eagles, what can you say that we haven't said a million times? What this team accomplished this postseason without Carson Wentz was outstanding and carried them over the finish line. It will be a long time before we see a similar run.