Eagles deny Patriots a sixth title with Super Bowl LII victory

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MINNEAPOLIS — Tom Brady didn’t have enough magic to overcome the Patriots’ defensive meltdown against the Eagles in Super Bowl LII Sunday night.

Coach holds trophy as confetti falls in background
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson hoists up the Lombardi trophy during the ceremony after Super Bowl LII on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. The Eagles beat the New England Patriots, 41-33. (Tim Tai/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

The Eagles shocked the five-time champions, 41-33, as they scored on eight of their 10 possessions. Brady had a historically good night with 28 completions on 48 attempts for 505 yards and three touchdowns, but a late strip-sack thwarted yet another improbable comeback bid in the postseason. Brady’s last-bid Hail Mary for Rob Gronkowski was knocked aside by a throng of Eagles at the buzzer.

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Nick Foles was brilliant all night and hit Zach Ertz for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 38-33 lead with 2:21 to play. It was their 10th third-down conversion on 15 attempts in the game.

And two plays later, Brandon Graham beat Shaq Mason to strip sack Brady, with Derek Barnett recovering at the Pats’ 31-yard line. Jake Elliott turned it into a 46-yard field goal that made it 41-33 with 65 seconds to go.

Rob Gronkowski returned from a concussion to catch nine passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, and Danny Amendola had eight grabs for 152 yards. Chris Hogan added six receptions for 128 yards and a score.

Meanwhile, Foles was 28-of-43 for 373 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, as the teams combined for a playoff record 1,151 yards. Foles even caught a touchdown pass on a gadget play, catching a toss from Trey Burton.

Strangely, the Patriots started Eric Rowe over Malcolm Butler due to a coach’s decision, and the Eagles were happy to take advantage of that matchup, especially with Rowe locked on the right side of the defense. He gave up a pair of third-down completions for 32 total yards on the opening series before a third-down breakup in the end zone. Still, the coverage gaffes led to Elliott’s 25-yard field goal and the Eagles’ 3-0 lead.

Three plays after Gostkowski’s 26-yarder made it 3-3, Rowe got torched again. Alshon Jeffery made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone to give the Eagles a 9-3 advantage, as Elliott missed the extra point.

The kicking woes bled into the Patriots’ operation a series later. Ryan Allen couldn’t handle Joe Cardona’s low snap, and Gostkowski had to reload before doinking his 26-yard attempt off the left upright.

That miss cost the Patriots on their next series, too, but not until after Brady dropped a third-down throw from Danny Amendola on a reverse pass. Rather than attempting a 53-yard field goal, Bill Belichick decided to go for it, but the Eagles’ quick pass rush blew up the play and led to Brady’s incompletion for Gronkowski.

Late-season acquisition James Harrison compounded the first-half problems when he failed to secure the edge and allowed LeGarrette Blount to get through for a 21-yard touchdown that made it 15-3.

The Patriots immediately chipped away thanks to Rex Burkhead’s 46-yard catch on a screen pass, and Gostkowski trimmed it to 15-6 with a 45-yard field goal.

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Then, Stephon Gilmore broke up a deep ball for Jeffery, and Duron Harmon intercepted the deflected ball at the Pats’ 2-yard line. Brady got the ensuing drive moving with a 43-yard fade to Hogan, and White’s 26-yard touchdown on the next play made it 15-12. Gostkowski missed the extra point.

With Butler on the sideline, the Patriots used a four-safety dime package on third downs, which vaulted Jordan Richards into a more prominent role. That was costly, too, as Corey Clement smoked Richards with a double move for a 55-yard catch on third-and-3.

The Eagles then decided to dive deep into their playbook on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Clement took a direct snap and tossed it to Burton, a tight end, on a reverse. Burton then lobbed an easy touchdown pass to Foles, who should’ve been covered by Eric Lee. As a result, the Eagles took a 22-12 lead into halftime.

Brady and Gronk came flying out of the locker room with four connections for 68 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown when he got inside Ronald Darby to cut it to 22-19.

But again, the Eagles created matchup advantages with their offense during an 85-yard touchdown drive. Johnson Bademosi was inserted for Richards, over Butler, and allowed Nelson Agholor’s 17-yard catch on third-and-6. Rowe then got beat by Zach Ertz for 14 yards on third-and-1, and Marquis Flowers couldn’t contain Clement on third-and-6. Clement’s 22-yard touchdown reception extended the edge to 29-19.

But Brady kept going, completing three consecutive attempts for 60 yards, and Hogan beat Rodney McLeod for an easy 26-yard touchdown that cut the Eagles’ lead to 29-26 at the end of the third quarter.

The Eagles finally had a hiccup with a third-and-3 failure on the opening play of the fourth quarter, and Elliott pushed the margin to 32-26 with his 42-yard field goal.

Brady made them pay by completing five of his next six passes for 53 yards and a 4-yard fade to Gronkowski, who outmaneuvered Jalen Mills for a 4-yard touchdown on a fade. Gostkowski’s extra point gave the Pats their first lead, 33-32 with 9:22 remaining.

Content pulled from Tribune news services.