Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles outlast New England Patriots in classic for first championship in Super Bowl era

A game that featured the most total yards in NFL history came down to a final defensive stand by Philadelphia to clinch the franchise's first Super Bowl title.

Super Bowl LII: Philadelphia Eagles outlast New England Patriots in classic for first championship in Super Bowl era
Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson holds the Vince Lombardi trophy up after the Eagles won Super Bowl XLII/Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Philadelphia Eagles
41 33
New England Patriots

The Philadelphia Eagles have won their first championship since 1960 with a stirring 41-33 victory over the defending champion New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles was named the game's Most Valuable Player, completing 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns while becoming the first quarterback to ever catch a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

In defeat, New England quarterback Tom Brady set the record for most passing yards in the Super Bowl with 505 yards on 28 of 48 passing, also tossing three scores.

The two teams combined for 1,151 total yards, the most in a game in NFL history. Both tight ends were outstanding as the Eagles Zach Ertz caught seven passes for 67 yards and the go-ahead TD with 2:21 remaining while the Patriots Rob Gronkowski hauled in nine passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

Eagles lead after first quarter as both offense flourish

The Patriots won the toss and elected to defer, giving the Eagles the ball to start the game. Philadelphia put together an impressive opening drive.

Starting at their own 26 yard-line, Foles completed his first three passes, including a 17-yard strike to Alshon Jeffery on third and four. 

Again, the Eagles were faced with third down and again, Foles was on target, this time to Torrey Smith for 18 yards to the Patriots 38-yard line. Efficiently moving the ball down line, the Eagles eventually reached the New England two-yard line.

After a false start on Ertz pushed Philadelphia back five yards, Foles fired back-to-back incomplete passes, forcing a 26-yard field goal attempt by kicker Jake Elliott, which he converted to give the NFC champions a 3-0 lead.

The Patriots first drive would mirror that of the Eagles, expertly moving the ball down the field. Tom Brady found James White for consecutive completions for 19 yards followed by back-to-back strikes to Chris Hogan for 32 yards to the Eagles 23.

After white picked up a first down at the Philadelphia 14, the New England offense stalled. White caught his third pass of the drive to reach the eight yard-line, but a run by him for no gain and a Brady incompletion meant the AFC champions had to settle for a game-tying 26-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.

The Eagles wasted no time re-taking the lead, scoring on just three plays. Foles found Nelson Agholor for seven yards followed by a 34-yard burst by former Patriot LeGarrette Blount to the New England 36.

Foles then dialed up a long pass attempt, which was right on the money, finding Jeffery in the left corner of the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown to give Philadelphia a 9-3 lead, Elliott missing the extra point.

Disastrous New England special teams, unlikely Philadelphia hero, aggressive Eagles play-calling increase lead

The subsequent possession started well for the Patriots, but ended in disaster. On second down, Brady was pressured, but found Danny Amendola for 50 yards followed by a short pass that Hogan turned into a 12-yard gain to the Eagles 17.

Hogan was the Patriots' most effective offensive playmaker/Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Hogan was the Patriots' most effective offensive playmaker/Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
After White carried twice to the Philadelphia nine, Brandin Cooks was stopped on a jet sweep for one yard, forcing another field goal. Holder Ryan Allen mishandled the snap and when he put the ball down, Gostkowski clanked his 26-yard attempt off of the left upright, the Eagles lead still led 9-3.
The Philadelphia defense was stiffening and after Cooks was levelled by Malcolm Jenkins, the Eagles defense came up big, stopping the New England offense on fourth and five from the Eagles 35-yard line, Brady's attempted pass to Gronkowski was broken up.
That sequence of events would prove to be costly as the Philadelphia offense, in a terrific rhythm, would strike paydirt again. Foles found Ertz for 19 yards to the New England 43 and Jeffrey, having a tremendous game to this point, for 22 to the 21.
Blount was cut by the Patriots after refusing to take a pay cut and he made them pay, bursting up the middle for a 21-yard touchdown to extend the advantage to 15-3. The ensuing two-point conversion failed.

New England would go five plays to the Philadelphia 27, the drive featuring a 46-yard hookup by Brady to running back Rex Burkhead. The drive stalled again and Gostkowski hit his second field goal of the game, this from 45 yards out to trim the lead to 15-6, the Eagles defense pressuring Brady with more frequency.

A pair of breaks got the Patriots back into the game. First, a Foles deep pass intended for Jeffery was intercepted by Duron Harmon, the first turnover of the game. After taking over on their own ten-yard line, New England was faced with a third and six from their own 14-yard line.

After Brady's pass for Hogan was incomplete, a questionable holding call on the Eagles' Jalen Mills kept the drive alive. Dion Lewis carried the ball twice to the Patriots 41, Hogan hauled in a 43-yard deep ball to the 26 and White broke a pair of tackles to rumble into the end zone to cut the lead to 15-12, Gostkowski hooking his extra point attempt way left.

It was a disastrous night for the normally reliable Gostkowski/Photo: Elsa/Getty Images
It was a disastrous night for the normally reliable Gostkowski/Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

What could be the defining drive and play of this Super Bowl occurred next. Corey Clement, an undrafted free agent at the beginning of the season, had a big part in setting up the Eagles first scoring drive and he hauled in a 55-yard pass from Foles to the New England eight.

He carried the ball twice to the Patriots one and on third and goal, Foles' fade pass for Jeffery was incomplete. Faced with a fourth-and-goal on the one-yard line, Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson didn't hesitate to keep his offense on the field.

Earlier in the game, the Patriots tried a trick play with Brady dropping a pass on fourth down after being left wide open. The Eagles would attempt the same play, Clement taking a direct snap, pitching to receiver Trey Burton, who flipped it to an equally wide-open Foles, his first career reception and a play that will long be remembered in Super Bowl lore. Elliott added the extra point and Philadelphia held a 22-12 lead at halftime.

Foles celebrates his 1-yard TD reception, the first by a quarterback in Super Bowl history/Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Foles celebrates his 1-yard TD reception, the first by a quarterback in Super Bowl history/Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Dizzying offensive pace continues for both teams as Eagles continue to lead

The New England offense can strike quickly and they did exactly that to open the third quarter. Gronkowski was held to one catch for nine yards, the tight end hauled in passes of 25 and 24 yards to bring the ball to the Philadelphia 26.

He caught his third pass of the drive on third and six for a first down to the Eagles' 14 and his fourth reception on second and goal from the five resulted in a touchdown to bring the Patriots to within 22-19 following Gostkowski's extra point.

In defeat, Brady set the Super Bowl single-game record for passing yards with 505/Photo: Elsa/Getty Images
In defeat, Brady set the Super Bowl single-game record for passing yards with 505/Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Continuing to stay aggressive, the Eagles put together an 11-play, 85-yard drive spanning almost five minutes. Agholor caught a 17-yard pass on third-and-six, Blount and Ajayi got Philadelphia into New England territory and Ertz' 14-yard catch on third-and-one put the Eagles on the 26.

The NFC champions were tremendous on third down all game long and Clement again was the unlikely source of offense, grabbing a 22-yard pass from Foles in the end zone, reviewed and upheld and after Elliott's extra point, the lead was restored to ten points at 29-19.

The Patriots continued to respond and their latest scoring drive was seven plays, aided by a holding call on Michael Kendricks, Hogan caught a 16-yard pass on second down, Amendola brought in an 18-yarder also on second down and Hogan finished off the drive with a 26-yard touchdown reception to cut the lead to 29-26, the score after three quarters.

Patriots pull ahead for the first time in the contest

The Eagles opened the fourth quarter with a 42-yard field goal by Elliott to up the lead to 32-26, finishing off an eight play drive that began in the third quarter. Smith caught two balls for 24 yards while Agholor tallied 33 total yards on the drive.

New England would take their first lead of the game as Burkhead ran three times for 18 yards, Amendola continued to be a factor with three receptions for 46 yards and Gronkowski capped off the drive with his second touchdown of the game from four yards out on second and goal, Gostkowski's extra point putting the Patriots ahead 33-32.

Gronkowski caught eight of his nine passes in the second half and his second touchdown of the game gave the Patriots a short-lived lead/Photo: Elsa/Getty Images
Gronkowski caught eight of his nine passes in the second half and his second touchdown of the game gave the Patriots a short-lived lead/Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Ertz touchdown, Graham sack seal Eagles' title

Philadelphia mounted perhaps their biggest drive in franchise history, beginning at their own 25-yard line. After Ajayi gained four yards to begin, Foles' pass intended for Smith was incomplete. Ertz hauled in a seven-yard pass on third and six and four plays later, his lunge on fourth and one for two yards kept the drive alive.

Agholor caught passes of 10, 18 and 10 yards, bringing the ball to the Patriots' 14-yard line. Ajayi ran for three, forcing New England to call their second timeout and Foles' pass to Jeffrey fell incomplete, bringing up third and seven.

On the 14th play of the drive, Foles found Ertz once again and the tight end rambled into the end zone for what turned out to be the Super Bowl-winning touchdown from 11 yards out, again reviewed and upheld after he was deemed to be a runner while fumbling going into the end zone.

Ertz dives in for the eventuall Super Bowl-clinching score/Photo: Elsa/Getty Images
Ertz dives in for the eventual Super Bowl-clinching score/Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

The two-point conversion failed and the Eagles led 38-33. On the following drive, Brady was sacked for the first time in the game by Brandon Graham, who also caused the Patriots quarterback to fumble, recovered by Derek Barnett.

After three Ajayi runs, Elliott's 46-yard field goal extended the lead to 41-33. With one last chance to tie the game, New England drove to their own 49-yard line, including a fourth down conversion to momentarily stay alive.

One last Hail Mary heave into the end zone by Brady intended for Gronkowski was knocked down and the Eagles emerged with a win in what might be the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

The Patriots' last-gasp Hail Mary was knocked down in the end zone as time expired/Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
The Patriots' last-gasp Hail Mary was knocked down in the end zone as time expired/Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images