It was Week 14, and the 11-2 Eagles were playing the 9-4 Los Angeles Rams. This was a refreshing game for most NFL fans, as both teams had found major success compared to the year before. The Eagles had finished the last season at 7-9 and the Rams at 4-12, but this year they were at the top of their respective conferences. The Eagles’ MVP candidate quarterback, Carson Wentz, scrambled on a third and goal play. As he reached the goal line, he got hit in his right knee and was crushingly sandwiched between two defensive players. Wentz had torn his ACL and was out for the remainder of the season. Philly fans sorrowed upon hearing this news, and most people felt bad for the Eagles. Sports analysts, professional and self-acclaimed, came to one conclusion: the Eagles’ season was over.
Backup quarterback Nick Foles, who had contemplated retiring from football just two years ago, took control of the team. Due to the Eagles’ stellar regular season play, they had secured a spot in the NFL playoffs. No one, however, took them seriously. They were affectionately referred to as the ‘underdogs’ as they entered their first round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons. Somehow, the Eagles pulled off a win at home against the favored Falcons. Defensive end Chris Long walked off the field wearing an authentic German Shepherd mask. He even wore the mask during the postgame interview. When asked about it, he said it was to signify their reputation as underdogs. America cheered for the Philadelphia Dogs, but feared their next task. The Eagles had to play the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. To everyone’s surprise, the Eagles demolished the Vikings. Foles skillfully threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, free agent acquisition Legarrette Blount added a touchdown, and trade-acquired running back Jay Ajayi rushed for first downs. The team of underdogs had their biggest challenge ahead of them: a Super Bowl matchup with the New England Patriots, the NFL’s dynasty of the 21st century.
Unlike the dogs (Eagles), the “gods” (Patriots) were heavily favored in Super Bowl LII (52) based on a long body of work. They were coming off a Super Bowl victory against the Falcons, where they trailed by 25 points and still managed to come back and win. This further instilled the Patriots’ reputation as an insurmountable juggernaut. As the Patriots stormed through the playoffs and reached the Super Bowl, the main question about the Super Bowl was how much the Patriots would win by, not if they would win.
The Super Bowl took place in Minnesota’s indoor U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, February 4th. Surprisingly, the game was very close throughout, with the Eagles starting strong, and the Patriots responding with similar drives. The Patriots, with controversy surrounding their ‘easy’ officiating, received their first offensive penalty of the 2017-2018 postseason.
Halfway into the second quarter, the Eagles were winning 15-6. The momentum belonged to the Eagles, and Nick Foles wound up firing a beautiful deep ball to Alshon Jeffery, who was almost in the endzone. The pass landed beautifully between his right arm and stomach. Eagles fans began to celebrate, until Jeffery lost control of the ball and accidentally threw it into the arms of Patriot’s cornerback Duron Harmon. Off of the turnover, the Patriots dominantly charged downfield. Tom Brady threw a beautiful deep bomb to Chris Hogan, who caught the ball for a 50 yard gain. Then, James White took a handoff to score a touchdown. The score was 15-12.
Minutes earlier, the score was headed towards 22-6 Eagles, a dominant lead; however, the turnover-caused swing made it 15-12, and the Patriots could not be counted out. Earlier in the game, the Patriots had run a trick play, where Danny Amendola threw the ball to a wide open Tom Brady. Brady, however, let the ball fall through his hands and drop to the turf. That crucial drop resulted in a Patriots’ field goal instead of a touchdown. Later, the Eagles found themselves in a similar situation. In a fourth-and-1 yard-to-go situation, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson called for a trick play, where tight end Trey Burton would target quarterback Nick Foles in the endzone. This play was crucial; if Foles dropped the pass then the Eagles would have given up an opportunity to score and would have given up the ball with a three point lead instead of ten. However, Nick Foles did not make the same mistake as Brady. Foles secured the ball in both hands and scored the touchdown. Fans across the nation were in shock as the game reached the halftime break.
The halftime show was performed by Justin Timberlake, pop singer and ex-N’SYNC lead vocalist. The audience was equipped with reflectors and made a light show in the stadium. Timberlake also projected a picture of deceased singer Prince on the projector in the middle of the stadium. Timberlake walked into the stands while singing. A young fan took his cell phone and took a photo with Timberlake. This picture was popular on the internet for weeks to come. After halftime, the Patriots came back strong. They opened the third quarter with multiple passes to star tight end Rob Gronkowski, the last one a touchdown. The Eagles responded with a drive that arose controversy. Nick Foles targeted running back Corey Clements in the back of the endzone. Clements caught the ball, but questions whether Clements had full possession of the ball were asked. The referees ruled it as a touchdown, however. After more back and forth drives, the Patriots scored with another Gronkowski touchdown. New England took the lead, 33 to 32.
A scary suspicion snuck into the minds of every non-Patriots fan. . . the Patriots were doing it again. The same thing that they had done a year ago: they were coming back from a seemingly insurmountable lead.
Philadelphia was clearly shaken by the the change of momentum. The Eagles steadily drove downfield, at first struggling for yards. Eventually, they were faced with a 4th and 1 position. Doug Pederson showed his underdog mentality and chose to go for it. Fans across the nation held their breaths as Nick Foles completed a pass to tight end Zach Ertz. Ertz, being tackled, reached the ball out and secured the first down. All the fans exhaled with relief. Plays later, the Eagles were in the red zone. Foles, again, threw to Ertz. Ertz took five steps before being catapulted into the endzone. After he reached the ball over the line, it bobbled from his hands, then he secured it again. This was another source of controversy, but the referees ruled it as a touchdown.
The Patriots had the ball and a chance to answer, but the Eagles stripped the ball, Brady’s pride, and the Super Bowl. Rookie Brandon Graham stuck his hand out and ripped the ball from Tom Brady’s hands. The Eagles scooped it up. Against any team except for the Patriots, this would be an assured victory, as the Eagles got possession with two minutes left. However, given the Patriot’s track record of comebacks, no one counted the game as over. The Eagles possessed the ball for a minute, then lined up for the 46 yard field goal. The pressure was off the chart. Kickers on both teams had missed multiple kicks already this game, so this routine kick was anything but guaranteed. The kicker nailed it.
Philadelphia 41, New England 33.
The Patriots got the ball starting at their own 7 yard line. The stifling Eagles defense shut Brady down. Fans looked on incredulously as one question went through all of our heads: “Could the Patriots actually lose?” There were nine seconds left. The pressure came to Brady, as a lineman got his arms around Brady’s legs. Brady somehow broke free of the tackle and wound up, preparing to unleash a bomb to the endzone. Everyone watching could already envision the headlines, “Brady cements himself as greatest quarterback to ever play with comeback Super Bowl win”. The entire stadium went quiet as the ball soared in the air to the endzone. Life seemed to go in slow motion as the ball hit Gronkowski’s hands, but suddenly the Eagles defenders popped it out and the ball hit the turf. Fans all across the country either fell sullen or screamed with happiness: the Eagles had won Super Bowl LII. The Dogs had beaten the Gods.