The Philadelphia Eagles stunned the New England Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII on Sunday, and Nick Foles was a big reason why. Foles, who was thrust into the starting lineup after Carson Wentz tore his ACL in December, finished 28-of-43 for 373 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
But his most memorable play didn’t come as a passer, but rather, as a receiver. Foles caught a 1-yard pass from tight end Trey Burton on a beautifully designed trick play on fourth down in the final minute of the first half to give Philly a 22-12 lead.
It was stunning.
“The reason the Eagles could beat the Patriots was they play a style that is aggressive and pedal to the metal all the time – and that’s the way you have to play if you’re going to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick – and that play exemplified it,” Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski said on After Hours on Amy Lawrence. “It’s one thing to go for it on 4th-and-Goal from the 1-yard line; it’s another thing to call that play. That, to me, is the one moment that will stand out in the game more than anything.”
Indeed, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson didn’t shrink in the Super Bowl. Instead of playing not to lose, he played to win – which is how he always plays.
He’s the same coach all the time, regardless of setting, regardless of situation.
“He absolutely is,” Sielski said. “That’s the thing: They have been playing that way all year, and that is part of what has made the Patriots great over time: they get opposing teams into uncomfortable situations. They get you doing things that you don’t want to do.”
The Patriots didn’t do that Sunday. They failed to pressure Foles and allowed Philly to rush 27 times for 164 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
The Eagles, unlike many Patriots opponents, played smart and stayed within their comfort zone.
“Go back to the AFC Championship where the Jaguars sit on the ball for the final 55 seconds of the first half leading 14-10,” Sielski said. “The Jaguars have one of the three or four best defenses in the league, and against any other opponent probably in the NFL, they can get away with doing that. But you can’t get away with doing that against the Patriots. What happens in the second half? The Patriots make a run, the Jaguars need Bake Bortles to play well and bail them out and he can’t do it.
“But the Eagles have played this way all year,” continued. “They’re accustomed to that. So when it comes time to go for it on fourth down with the Super Bowl hanging in the balance, they’re okay in that situation. They’ve been in that situation all season.”