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.
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.
Tom Brady sheds the gloves.
Temperatures hovered around 3 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday afternoon, but Tom Brady, who had insisted all week that he was wearing gloves indoors because it was chilly, showed up to U.S. Bank Stadium bare-handed. With his throwing hand — which had been injured prior to the A.F.C. championship game — appearing positively hand-like, it looks like he got the media to talk about a non-issue all week.
Here are the top story lines for Super Bowl LII:
• The game is a matchup of teams that excelled on both sides of the ball. Philadelphia scored the third most points in the N.F.L. and allowed the fourth fewest. New England was second in scoring and allowed the fifth fewest points.
• The injury to Wentz was a blow to the Eagles, but it should not be discounted how much the loss of Jason Peters affects Philadelphia in a game like this. A left tackle selected to nine of the previous 10 Pro Bowls, Peters tore multiple ligaments in his knee in a Week 7 win over Washington and was put on injured reserve. Halapoulivaati Vaitai has done his best to fill in, but he is a downgrade who gives Foles far less time to work than Peters did while protecting his blind side.
• At 40 years 185 days old, Brady will become the oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, supplanting his longtime rival Peyton Manning, who won Super Bowl 50 for the Denver Broncos when he was 39 years 320 days old. The 11-year gap between Brady and Foles is not extreme, but the youngest member of the Eagles, Derek Barnett, was 5 when Brady won his first Super Bowl.
• Nothing looms larger than Philadelphia’s switch at quarterback from Wentz, a mobile passer, to Foles, a pocket passer who initially struggled to move the ball after Wentz was lost for the season. It was a different story in the National Football Conference championship game. Foles, regularly using the run-pass option offense, shredded the Minnesota Vikings’ terrific defense. He cites his experience as a star high school basketball player for his comfort in a system that seems more geared to quarterbacks with foot speed.
• Philadelphia has made it to only three of the N.F.L.’s 52 Super Bowls, and this is the second time it has had to face Brady and the Patriots’ juggernaut. While brushing off the notion that the Eagles are underdogs, Brady said it was fair for him to have become the villain for a fan base still in search of its first championship since 1960. “I’d hate me too if I was in Philadelphia right now,” he said.
• The every-down running back is alive and well in the N.F.L., with young stars like Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt, but that concept will be absent on Sunday. Philadelphia has a back for every occasion, with LeGarrette Blount taking care of short yardage, Jay Ajayi succeeding more in an open field and Corey Clement filling in the gaps between them. New England’s more modest running game got a little less than half of its rushing yards from Dion Lewis, while typically using James White more as a short yardage receiver than a typical running back.
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• Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in football and a key element in Brady’s aggressive strategy of throwing into coverage when the situation demands it. He sustained a concussion in the A.F.C. championship game. It will not keep him off the field, but it could limit his effectiveness, especially if he takes another hard hit. New England’s offense is so reliant on the attention that Gronkowski receives that any change in his status during the game could be a crippling blow.
• Brady’s hand, which sustained a severe gash in advance of the American Football Conference championship game, is, by all accounts, fine. He did not appear limited against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he had the stitches removed this week.
• If the game comes down to a field goal, both teams appear to be sitting pretty. Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots, in his 12th season, connected on 92.5 percent of his field-goal attempts, and was five for five from 50 or more yards. His counterpart on the Eagles, Jake Elliott, was a rookie this season, but he proved to have a big leg, going five for six from 50 or more yards, including a game-winning 61-yarder in Week 2.
• James Harrison, 39, appeared headed to retirement when the Pittsburgh Steelers cut him this season. But Harrison, a veteran linebacker, caught on with the Patriots and has played surprisingly well. Don’t put him in the category of players who believe a veteran can get by on his knowledge and instincts, though. He believes he is still succeeding because his body is capable of putting up with the punishment he demands of it. “It’s a physical game,” Harrison said. “Coaches are the most mentally prepared people in the world, but why don’t they play? Because they can’t physically do it.”
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