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Eagles D on strip sack: 'It was only a matter of time'

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MINNEAPOLIS -- During a wild Super Bowl Sunday characterized by a stunning display of offensive football, the Eagles' defense never doubted their big moment would come.

Philadelphia's storybook 41-33 win over the mighty Patriots came on a day in which New England's punter never stepped foot on the field.

No punts for the Patriots and just one sack for Philly's deep and vaunted defensive front seven. That lone takedown changed everything, though, as Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham forced a Tom Brady fumble that bounced into the waiting arms of rookie pass rusher Derek Barnett with just over two minutes to play and the Eagles hanging on for dear life.

Philly waited 57-plus minutes for that game-changing play to arrive, but star defensive lineman Fletcher Cox never doubted that it would.

"We stuck together. Nobody panicked. During the whole game, nobody panicked," Cox said after the game. "We knew what we had to do to stop them. We knew that it was going to come down to a couple plays and we've been through that situation before and guys have stepped up and made plays."

Tonight it was Graham, with a feat that came as no surprise to Cox, who said: "Brandon Graham doing what Brandon Graham does. Making plays."

Veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins was emotional in the locker room after the win, addressing his teammates while clutching the Lombardi Trophy -- the club's first ever Lombardi Trophy after decades of ups and downs, stops and starts, and heartbreaking defeats.

"We knew in a two-minute situation that they most likely aren't going to run the ball," Jenkins previously told a clump of reporters, noting that he spent much of the second half "trying to calm everybody down [to go] back out there and make one more stop."

On finally getting to Brady, Jenkins said: "We knew it was only a matter of time."

Graham was still drinking it all in after the win, sitting at the podium answering one question after the next about the strip-sack while his little girl sat in his lap gleefully singing her version of "Fly, Eagles Fly."

"I'm just happy for the group because it's all about one-on-one matchups," Graham said. "Wherever I can get one-on-one, I feel like I'm going to win that. I'm just so thankful because we've got good coaches who put us in great positions. Our team today ... we just went out there, and whoever made the play ... when it happened to be me, you just make the play and get off the field. That's all we kept talking about. We had to go out there and make a stop and I'm just happy it happened when we needed it the most."

While the Eagles piled up a handful of hurries and got in Brady's grill, the game nearly came and went without either team recording a quarterback takedown. Philly's rough-and-tumble defense came through, however, at arguably the most critical time in franchise history.

"We knew that Tom Brady was going to try to take us out of the game, but we knew we were going to have an opportunity in there where he was going to have to hold the ball," Graham explained. "We just kept working and kept working, not getting frustrated and talking to each other, telling each other: 'Hey, we gotta keep coming. Don't get frustrated. We're going to make a play and we're going to win this thing."

On a day where both defenses waited all day to make a difference, Graham's heroism came just in time.

"We weren't pointing no fingers," Graham said of an Eagles team that remained unfazed by the fever-dream onslaught of yardage and points. "We just said, 'Hey, whoever makes the first stop, that's who's going to win the game.'"

For the world-champion Eagles, a prophetic rallying cry, indeed.

The Philadelphia Eagles have defeated the New England Patriots to become Super Bowl champions. Check out some of the best photos and moments from the game!
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