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Philadelphia Eagles knock off Patriots, win Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brandon Graham forced a Tom Brady fumble, thwarting the New England Patriots' chance for another epic playoff comeback in a rollicking Super Bowl LII bout. Here's what we learned in the Philadelphia Eagles' first ever Super Bowl victory:

  1. For aficionados of aerial acrobatics, trick plays and high-octane offense, the Patriots and Eagles delivered the most action-packed Super Bowl in history. For connoisseurs of stout defense, solid special teams work and sound fundamental football, it was a fever-dream experience. Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles stood blow-for-blow with the greatest quarterback ever to stalk the gridiron, as the two teams combined for 1,151 yards -- shattering the record for most in any NFL game. It's fitting that Philadelphia's swarming defensive line shut down the two minute-drill master, forcing a decisive turnover in a performance pock-marked by out-of-character New England miscues. While fans in other cities bemoan Patriots fatigue, they have delivered a golden age of Super Bowls over the past half-decade, with each instant classic raising the bar to a new level.
  1. Philadelphia's offensive coaching staff of Doug Pederson, coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo ran circles around the competition in 2017, putting on a season-long clinic in creative play design and aggressive play-calling. No matter who lines up under center, who totes the ball or who blocks up front, the Eagles move the ball. As fearless as any coach on fourth downs, Pederson dialed up a trick play with tailback Corey Clement in the wildcat, pitching to tight end Trey Burton who promptly hit a wide-open Foles for a touchdown and a 10-point lead entering halftime. In the annals of Lombardi-Trophy lore, Pederson's gutsy call will rank with Sean Payton's surprise onside kick to open the third quarter of the Saints' lone Super Bowl victory.
  1. A deserving MVP choice, Foles is one of the most unlikely Super Bowl heroes we've seen. At the helm of a stillborn December offense in relief of an injured Carson Wentz, Foles entered the NFC Championship Game just four of 21 for a 23.9 rating on deep passes. After shredding Minnesota's defense with four downfield strikes and a 141.4 rating two weeks ago, he was just as impressive on the game's biggest stage, showing evolved pocket movement, tremendous ball placement and sterling decision-making throughout. Foles placed a teardrop into Alshon Jeffery's hands for a 34-yard score, threaded the needle to Clement for a gorgeous 22-yard touchdown strike and led a 14-play, 75-yard drive to counter the Patriots' first lead of the game in the middle of the fourth quarter. Although his torrid playoff run will certainly attract trade interest from quarterback-needy organizations, it's not a given that the Eagles will part with their premium Wentz insurance. This is the franchise, after all, that threw money at Sam BradfordandChase Daniel while trading up to draft Wentz two years ago. General manager Howie Roseman is a firm believer in the value of a trusty backup quarterback.
  1. Foles succeeded in large part by attacking overmatched cornerback Eric Rowe and safety Jordan Richards as Patriots faithful wondered why Malcolm Butler was conspicuously absent. The Super Bowl XLIX hero was active for the game, but the defense's 2017 leader in snaps didn't see action after dealing with an illness earlier in the week. Coach Bill Belichick insisted that Butler's benching was strictly a game-plan decision to play his best players. "I ain't got nothing to say," Butler told reporters in the post-game locker room. Super Bowl LII's biggest mystery doesn't bode well for the impending free agent's future in New England.
  1. The leaky secondary was one of several back-breaking issues on a night that ran counter to the Patriots' reputation for savvy situational football. Brady dropped a third-down pass, mismanaged the clock with an ill-advised scramble before the half and lost the ball on Graham's game-saving strip sack. Deep threat Brandin Cooks was lost for the final three quarters when his peripheral vision failed to pick up safety Malcolm Jenkins, who delivered a stunning helmet-to-helmet blow. Belichick's special teams miscues included a botched hold on an errant 26-yard field-goal, a missed extra point and a decision to bypass a 52-yard kick in favor of a deep sideline pass to Rob Gronkowski. The defense wasn't any better, blowing a slew of tackles and failing to get Foles off the field on critical third downs. This was far from Belichick's finest coaching performance.
  1. Butler isn't the lone Patriots star facing questions about his future. In response to whispers that he would consider a premature retirement in the event of another Super Bowl ring, All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski said he plans to "sit down in the next couple of weeks" to weigh his options. "I don't know where you heard that, but I'm definitely going to look at my future for sure," Gronkowski added. "I'm going to sit down, reflect on the season, probably talk to my teammates ... just see what happens from here."

Reminiscent of his dominant game-winning drive against Pittsburgh, Gronkowski stampeded through Philadelphia's defense for four catches and 68 yards on the opening drive of the second half. With two more touchdowns bringing his career total to 12, he trails only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (22) in postseason receiving scores.

  1. Whereas Gronkowski equivocated on his 2018 prospects, Brady "expects" to be back for a 19th season after chasing his third regular-season MVP award with the first 500-yard performance in Super Bowl history. "I mean, it's 15 minutes after the game," Brady offered, "so I want to process it a bit. But I don't see why I wouldn't be back."

Even with a few lapses in judgment, it's hardly fair to nitpick Brady's performance in his unprecedented eighth Super Bowl. Without benefit of Cooks or a consistent ground attack, he directed a big-play attack that riddled one of the league's stingiest defenses for an astonishing 613 net yards -- good for yet another Super Bowl record. The proud owner of every major postseason record among quarterbacks, Brady has now crossed the 10,000-yard passing threshold, nearly 3,000 more than second-place Peyton Manning:

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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