The defensive lines for both teams are getting absolutely worn out by all of this passing.
Eagles’ offense still rolling in 2nd half.
The Eagles continue to thrive on third down, and that continues to make New England play on its heels. It was on a third down that Nick Foles, who seems absolutely fearless tonight, threw deep into the end zone to Corey Clement for a 22-yard diving touchdown that along with the extra-point made it 29-19.
The Patriots had started the second half with a score, and the Eagles, looking to respond, had Kenjon Barner return the kickoff to the Philadelphia 25-yard line before a penalty for a block in the back sent them back to the 15.
LeGarrette Blount got things started with a 4-yard run up the middle, but Foles, after rolling out on second down, had his pass to Nelson Agholor fall incomplete. On 3rd-and-6, Foles found Agholor more cleanly, and the wide receiver raced to the sideline for a 17-yard catch and a first down.
Blount rumbled to the right side of the field for a 5-yard gain, and then went up the middle for another 10 yards.
Foles had a pass intended for Torrey Smith fall incomplete, with the crowd loudly booing the lack of an interference call, and on second down he handed to Jay Ajayi who despite stumbling managed to pick up 9 yards. On 3rd-and-1 from New England’s 40-yard line, Foles faked a handoff to Blount before finding Zach Ertz for a 14-yard completion.
After a short run by Ajayi, Foles dropped back and threw deep into the end zone for Trey Burton, but the pass sailed out of bounds. That brought up 3rd-and-6, and Foles dropped back for what was presumably going to be a short pass to try to convert but was instead a deep pass into the end zone for Clement whose catch held up to a challenge.
The Eagles have completed 8 of 11 third down attempts, and that is a huge part of the difference in this game.
Drape: The Eagles got a lot out of Blount, Clements and Ajaye on this drive. It was only right that Foles found Clement on that touchdown pass. It was a pins-and-needle review with Eagles and Pats fans, oohing and ahhing on every angle of the replay. But the ruling on the field stood. Neither one of those guys have made a mistake tonight, so maybe it was some justice.
Patriots start the 2nd half with a touchdown.
All Tom Brady needed to get the Patriots off to a great start in the second half was some help from Rob Gronkowski. The big tight end had four receptions on the drive, including a 5-yard touchdown reception, and the Eagles’ lead has been reduced to 22-19.
The second half began with the Patriots their own 25-yard line after a touchback. Brady only had eyes for Gronkowski, throwing to him on the first three plays of the drive, generating 49 yards on two receptions. The streak of passes was broken up by a 3-yard run by James White and then Brady floated a pass out of bounds for an incompletion. On 3rd-and-7 from Philadelphia’s 23-yard line, Brady stayed calm under pressure and once again found Gronkowski for a 14-yard reception and another first down.
New England had 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line, and started with a run up the middle by James White for 3 yards. Brady then threw to Gronkowski for the score.
Justin Timberlake’s halftime show features Prince tribute.
There was no wardrobe malfunction. There was no Prince hologram. Instead, the halftime show was all Justin Timberlake, who came out with a new album this week, running through a medley of his hits, like “SexyBack” and “My Love.”
But after a three year run of immensely entertaining halftime shows that included Lady Gaga entering the stadium from the sky, an ensemble performance from Beyonce, Coldplay and Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry and Left Shark, Timberlake’s solo performance felt uninspired.
He spent a lot of time clapping and not singing, and the most exciting moment was when a video of Minneapolis native Prince performing “I Would Die 4U” was projected onto a sheet – echoing his iconic Super Bowl performance 11 years ago. — Kevin Draper
Eagles have the lead, but Patriots have the history.
If anything, the Eagles should be leading by more than 10 points after a first half in which their offense did almost nothing wrong. Nick Foles completed 13 of 22 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, with his only real mistake coming on a well-thrown ball that was intercepted after his receiver bobbled the ball. The backup quarterback, and incredible Cinderella story, even caught a touchdown pass, showing off his athleticism on a trick play in which Trey Burton, a backup tight end, threw to him in the end zone.
Tom Brady moved the ball with ease against the fearsome Philadelphia defense, generating 350 yards of offense (276 through the air) but could not execute quite as well once he got into Philadelphia’s territory. It did not help the Patriots that Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal and an extra-point, costing New England 4 points.
The teams will now go into the locker room for an extended halftime, and the Patriots, who are known for incredible halftime adjustments, will receive the ball to start the second half.
Eagles pull out their bag of tricks.
The Eagles had a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and Coach Doug Pederson, who is a huge fan of football analytics, went for it. Corey Clement took the direct snap, then handed it to Trey Burton, who lobbed it to Nick Foles, who unlike Tom Brady, caught the ball for a touchdown that along with the extra-point gave Philadelphia a 22-12 lead.
A nice kick return by Kenjon Barner set the Eagles up with the ball at their own 30-yard line, with the two-minute warning being called at the end of the 27-yard run.
On first down, Nick Foles found Zach Ertz for a 7-yard gain, which Ertz took out of bounds to stop the clock. On 2nd-and-3, he was throwing again and Torrey Smith was juggling the ball as he went out of bounds, resulting in an incompletion.
But Foles has thrived on third down, and his gorgeous pass to Corey Clement led the running back perfectly beyond his coverage, and Clement not only snared the pass but raced down the field for a 55-yard gain in which he ran through two tackles and into the red zone.
Clement barreled up the middle for a 7-yard run, setting up a 2nd-and-goal from the New England 2-yard line, which forced the Patriots to call a timeout. Foles again handed off to Clement, who got about a yard, resulting in yet another New England timeout.
A 3rd-and-goal pass to Alshon Jeffery was tightly contested in the end zone, and fell incomplete, which resulted in the 4th-and-short attempt. Clement to Foles, just like they drew it up.
Drape: I spoke too early for the 5 and 2 square holders. Sorry! But how about the 4th and 2 reverse pass. Trey Burton to Nick Foles. Guts and imagination from Pederson, a pinpoint throw from Burton, and Foles pulling it in. This has been a really great first half of a big game. But the Eagles should lead, 31-12. Let’s get ready for the Patriots to come out firing in the second half.
Patriots cut into Eagles’ lead on White’s 26-yard touchdown run.
Nick Foles’s interception came back to haunt the Patriots when James White fought through a few tacklers for an impressive 26-yard touchdown run that made it a 15-12 game.
After the interception, the Patriots started form their own 5-yard line and Dion Lewis started things off with a 4-yard run. On second down the Eagles nearly got an interception of their own on a short attempt to Rob Gronkowski, which almost ended up in Nigel Bradham’s hands. Then, on 3rd-and-6, Brady threw long to Chris Hogan but was bailed out by a defensive holding call against Jalen Mills.
Given a fresh set of downs, the Patriots picked up 12 yards and a first down on two runs by Lewis. Brady threw an incomplete pass on first down, but a deep attempt on second down found Chris Hogan for a sliding 42-yard reception.
After Hogan’s big play White busted through the middle of the line and broke several tackles on his way into the end zone. Stephen Gostkowski missed his extra-point attempt, continuing the trend of a bad day for both teams’ kickers.
Drape: Just like that. Brady makes a throw that 27 other N.F.L. quarterbacks don’t. White bangs it in. Eagles fans are nervous. Gostowski makes his own case for the post season waiver wires. It’s 15-12, and the only people happy right now are the folks who have the Eagles 5, Pats 2 on their Super Bowl Squares.
A big interception gives Patriots the ball.
Nick Foles’s aggressiveness nearly set up another score, but Alshon Jeffery bobbled the ball on a deep pass and Duron Harmon was in position to take it away for a huge interception.
Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Eagles backed up thanks to Zach Ertz’s second false start penalty of the day. Corey Clement got 1 yard on a run to the left side, but Foles picked up 10 yards with a pass to Torrey Smith. On 3rd-and-4, Foles handed off to Jay Ajayi who fought through the right side of the line and then streaked up the field for a 26-yard gain and a first down.
Foles took the deep shot to Jeffery, and the throw was on the money, but Harmon’s head’s up play could be huge for New England.
Drape: Jeffery is having an M.V.P. game. It looked like he sealed that award with an acrobatic catch. It would have been the dagger of the first half. Instead, he bobbles it slightly and Harmon comes up with the interception. Again, again, again (I’m sorry) the Eagles need to put the Patriots away. What’s that? It wasn’t 28-3 ( ask the Falcons).
This time, Patriots convert on field goal attempt.
The Patriots only got one decent play on their drive, but that was enough to set up Stephen Gostkowski for a 45-yard field goal that narrowed New England’s deficit to 15-6.
New England had started on its own 25-yard line, and Tom Brady immediately found Rex Burkhead for an incredible 46-yard catch-and-run in which the running back briefly looked like he might go for much more.
A second down pass intended for Danny Amendola was rushed thanks to pressure from the Eagles’ defense and it fell incomplete nowhere near the receiver. A second attempt to Amendola resulted in a 2-yard gain, and on 3rd-and-8, Brady again threw a ball that came nowhere close to anyone who could catch the ball.
Gostkowski, who had missed a short attempt, had no problem from distance.
Drape: If you are an Eagles fan, you like how your team has played, but know it should be 24-6. They blew a touchdown and two extra points. If you are a Pats fan, all’s good. It’s 15-6 and you haven’t played well, but Coach Bill is about ready to make the adjustments.
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Blount rumbles in for a 21-yard touchdown.
A few big throws by Nick Foles and a huge 21-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount has the Eagles up 15-3.
The Eagles started conservatively with a run to Jay Ajayi, which resulted in a 1-yard loss. A second attempt to Ajayi saw the quick running back fight his way to the sideline but only resulted in a 4-yard gain, setting up a 3rd-and-7. As has been the case for the last two games, Foles stayed cool on third down and found Zach Ertz for a 19-yard gain and a first down.
Foles overthrew a short attempt to Alshon Jeffery but his second down pass was a thing of beauty as it sailed over the coverage and found a diving Jeffery for a 22-yard gain.
With a short field in front of him, Blount took the ball up the middle and was gone, with no one on New England’s defense having a chance of bringing him down.
The Eagles failed on a 2-point conversion attempt, which could indicate a lack of confidence in Jake Elliott’s ability to make an extra-point, but could also just be them wanting a 14-point lead rather than a 13-point lead.
Drape: Oh Man, LaGarette Blount! He’s a poor man Jerome Bettis. No Hall of Fame for him, but he does have a chance to win his second straight championship. Nick Foles? What can you say? He’s creeping into Earl Morril, Terry Hanratty, and Don Strock territory. Let’s get us in to modern times: Frank Reich of the Buffalo Bills.
Eagles knock Brandin Cooks out of the game.
A big catch, a devastating injury, a trick play, and a turnover on downs. The Eagles have the ball back with no damage done.
The Patriots got a get-out-of-jail-free card when the Eagles could not capitalize on a missed field goal, and following a punt they started at their own 37-yard line. Tom Brady immediately found Brandin Cooks for a huge 23-yard reception, but after Cooks looked for some space to run, he was absolutely laid out on a huge helmet-to-helmet hit by Malcolm Jenkins that left Cooks briefly motionless on the field. Cooks has been ruled out for the rest of the game.
Cooks sat up a few moments after the training staff got to him on the field, and then walked off the field under his own power. He headed straight to New England’s locker room for evaluation.
When play resumed, Brady threw an incomplete pass that was intended for James White that appeared to catch the running back off-guard as he was just turning around when the ball hit him in the shoulder pads. On 2nd-and-10, Dion Lewis ran the ball up the middle for a 5-yard gain. That set up a trick play with a double-reverse and then a throw from Danny Amendola to Brady, but the quarterback could not quick hold onto the ball.
The Patriots went for it on 4th-and-5, but Brady’s pass to Rob Gronkowski fell incomplete.
Drape: Malcolm Jenkins just laid out Brandin Cooks. This is not what anyone wants to see when 100 million people are watching. The game has a deserved reputation for violence. The C.T.E. cases have taken the lives of Hall of Famers like Junior Seau and many more. The public talks about concussion protocol, but no one really knows what it is. To be clear: it was not a cheap hit, just one that has increasingly become part of the game.
Patriots defense puts some pressure on Foles.
Trying to capitalize on New England’s missed field goal, the Eagles started their drive with a pitch to Jay Ajayi that went for 2 yards. On second down, Foles was chased out of the pocket by Trey Flowers, but he got the ball away for an incomplete pass. On 3rd-and 8, Foles again stepped out of a potential sack, but his pass to Zach Ertz fell incomplete resulting in the first punt of the game. Foles could potentially have run for a first down on the play, but he chose to try for it with his arm instead.
Patriots botch a field-goal attempt.
A promising drive for the Patriots resulted in a field goal attempt, but a bad snap and hold caused Stephen Gostkowski to miss a 26-yard attempt, giving the Eagles the ball back deep in their own territory. Gostkowski’s low kick simply ricocheted off the crossbar and back onto the field.
Dion Lewis took a short kickoff and returned it to the New England 18-yard line. After a brief injury delay, Lewis got a run up the middle and took it 8 yards. New England gave 5 yards of that back with a false start by Rob Gronkowski and then Tom Brady’s wobbly pass to Chris Hogan fell incomplete. On 3rd-and-7, Brady was forced out of the pocket but he stayed cool and found Danny Amendola wide open on the left side of the field for a huge 50-yard reception.
A quick pass to Hogan picked up another first down and then James White ran twice for a combined 8 yards. With the first quarter coming to a close, the teams switched sides of the field, but on 3rd-and-2 from the Philadelphia 9-yard line, Brady handed off to Brandin Cooks who was knocked down after a 1-yard gain, which sent out Gostkowsi for the kick.
Both of these teams were playing great defense toward the end of the season, but so far they have combined for four drives, and the shortest one went 67 yards.
Drape: That’s a really big miss for Gostowksi. Yes, the Patriots held. But the Patriots have not looked good. Yes, they have one of the greatest coaches and quarterbacks that have played. But they don’t look like a dynasty.
Foles finds Jeffery and the Eagles take back the lead.
The Nick Foles of the N.F.C. championship game is here so far. A 34-yard pass from Foles to Alshon Jeffery, which after a missed extra-point, has the Eagles up 9-3.
The drive started on Philadelphia’s 23-yard line. Foles threw short to Nelson Agholor, who showed a good second-effort with the ball for a 7-yard gain. The Patriots were then caught on their heels by LeGarrette Blount, who shot up the middle and then streaked down the right side of the field for a 36-yard gain.
From that point it was all Foles who released the ball as he was getting hit and found a leaping Jeffery in the end zone for the huge touchdown.
Drape: Blount broke a big one just like he had done in the past for the Pats. Then Foles goes 40-plus to Jefferey. No doubt that this is an Eagles-heavy crowd. No fear. But then Jake Elliott goes and dampens the momentum by missing the extra point. Philadelphia CANNOT LEAVE POINTS ON THE BOARD.
Patriots put together their own field-goal drive.
Just like the Eagles, the Patriots marched easily down the field before stalling out in the red zone. A huge defensive play by Jalen Mills knocked down a pass on a 3rd-and-4 play, which resulted in Stephen Gostkowski coming out for a 26-yard field goal that tied the score at 3-3.
The pressure of the Eagles’ defense was felt on the first play, with Tom Brady being rushed into a quick incomplete, but on second down he threw short to his left and James White raced 15 yards down the field for a first down.
Philadelphia got a 5-yard penalty for having 12 men on the field, setting up a 1st-and-5, and Brady found Chris Hogan streaking across the field for a 28-yard gain. Hogan then picked up another 5 yards on an end-around. Brady easily picked up the first down with a 9-yard throw to Rob Gronkowski.
From the Philadelphia 14-yard line, Brady picked up 6 yards with a low throw to White, and then White was knocked down after no discernible gain on a run up the middle. In a huge defensive play, Brady’s pass on third down, which was intended for Gronkowski, was knocked to the ground by Mills, which sent out Gostkowski for the kick.
Drape: Eagles give up a big play to James White, then they get a 12 man on the field penalty all of a sudden it’s at mid-field. Give Tom Brady a 50-yard head start and he can start throwing crossing routes. The Eagles defense didn’t get close to Brady this drive. They absolutely need to. They do get bailed out by Jalen Hill batting down a pass. So now it’s 3-3. If this was a boxing match (and they are playing the Rocky theme all the time) this is a nice split 2 rounds start that has everyone on the edge of their seat.
Eagles settle for a field goal on first drive.
It was like watching a replay of the N.F.C. championship game, with Nick Foles repeatedly succeeding on third down and simply marching down the field into the red zone. A few attempts into the end zone fell incomplete, but Jake Elliott came out and his 25-yard attempt sailed through the uprights to give the Eagles an early 3-0 lead.
After a brief delay caused by the lights being too dim for kickoff, Stephen Gostkowski kicked off to Corey Clement who took the ball to the Philadelphia 26-yard line. A pair of quick completions from Nick Foles to Nelson Agholor picked up a combined 6 yards and on third down he rolled out to his left before completing a 17-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery that gave the Eagles a first down.
A run by LeGarrette Blount went nowhere, with the big running back knocked backward for a 1-yard loss, and a Foles pass to Torrey Smith fell incomplete, setting up another third down, which Foles, after waiting for something to develop, converted with a 15-yard pass to Smith.
Foles found his favorite target, Zach Ertz, for a 7-yard gain then Jay Ajayi had a pair of short runs, the first of which picked up a first down. Foles sold a nice pump fake and then hit Clement for a 16-yard catch-and-run that put Philadelphia on New England’s 5-yard line.
Blount went up the middle to the 2-yard line, but a false start penalty by Ertz moved the ball back to the 7. Foles overthrew Agholor in the end zone, setting up a third-and-7, and an attempt to Jeffery also fell incomplete, setting up Elliott for the short field goal.
Drape: Foles to Jeffery for the first 3rd down conversion showed a couple of things: Coach Doug Pederson trusts him, and Foles can extend plays with his legs. Then, he gets 3rd-and-11 and throws an even better pass to Torrey Smith. The Eagles did everything but get 7 on that drive. Elliott draws first blood, 3-0 Eagles. Nice start, but mistakes add up, and they can’t make many of them. All in all, Foles looks sharp
Eagles lose the coin toss, but start with the ball.
The Eagles were led onto the field by defensive stars Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox, while Tom Brady was at the front of the pack for the Patriots. The Eagles lost the coin toss and the Patriots chose which side to defend, so Philadelphia will receive the ball to start the game. Super Bowl LII is underway.
There were no player protests during the national anthem.
After a season marked by discord in which players kneeling or raising fists during the national anthem to protest police brutality was one of the N.F.L.’s dominant storylines, no Eagles or Patriots player did so during singer Pink’s rendition of the song.
But while the number of protesters diminished towards the end of the season, the issue is anything but dead. The N.F.L. denied a veterans group an ad in the game program that implored players to stand during the anthem, and President Trump’s Super Bowl message mentioned “proudly” standing during it.
Eagles fans outnumber Patriots fans in Minneapolis.
The New England Patriots are officially the home team for Super Bowl LII, but it sure doesn’t feel that way in Minneapolis’s U.S. Bank Stadium. Fans wearing Eagles jerseys dramatically outnumber their counterparts wearing Patriots gear, perhaps 2-to-1 or 3-to-1, and the biggest boos during warm-ups were reserved for Tom Brady.
The roughly 73,000 Super Bowl tickets were distributed in a precise manner. The Patriots and Eagles were each given 17.5 percent; the Vikings, as the host, were given 5 percent; the other 29 N.F.L. teams were given 1.2 percent each; and the remaining 25 percent were kept by the N.F.L. for staff, media, players and corporate sponsors, and to sell as part of expensive hospitality packages.
According to ticket reseller StubHub, on every day in the week leading up to the Super Bowl they sold the most tickets to residents of Pennsylvania, followed by Massachusetts.
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