Professional football is my favorite sport, and the Super Bowl is my favorite sporting event (except, of course, for the 2016 World Series). Iíve seen every game since 1980, when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Los Angeles Rams for their fourth Super Bowl title. But Iíve never seen a Super Bowl like the one I witnessed on Sunday.
In case you missed it, the Philadelphia Eagles came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the New England Patriots, 41-33.
The Eagles had led for the first three quarters before the Patriots took a 33-32 lead with 9:22 remaining. The Eagles regained the lead on a touchdown pass from Nick Foles to tight end Zach Ertz but missed a two-point attempt. The Eagles then forced a fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to set up a field goal with 1:05 left for an eight-point lead. Needing a touchdown and two-point conversion to force overtime, Brady got New England to midfield but his Hail Mary into the end zone fell incomplete on the gameís final play.
The game stood apart from other Super Bowls for many reasons. The two teams combined for 1,151 yards of total offense ó the most of any game in the history of the NFL. Bradyís 505 passing yards set an NFL postseason record. The Patriotsí 33 points were the most ever scored by a losing team in a Super Bowl. The Eagles won the Super Bowl for the first time, after losing in their previous two appearances. And the Patriots, who have been the NFLís most dominant team over the past 18 seasons, became the first team to lose five Super Bowls.
Of course, the credit goes to everyone in the Eaglesí organization but I give the lionís share to head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Nick Foles. Pederson made one of the gutsiest calls in Super Bowl history late in the first half, and it paid off handsomely for the Eagles. With Philadelphia facing fourth and goal from the New England 1 and 38 seconds remaining in the half, Pederson opted to go for the touchdown. Running back Corey Clement took a direct snap and handed off to tight end Trey Burton, who threw a perfect pass to Foles, wide open in the corner of the end zone. The extra point gave the Eagles a 22-12 halftime lead.
I will confess: I thought at the time that Pederson was making a big mistake. A goal-line stand would have given the Patriots a big lift going into halftime. I was wrong, though. Pederson played to win, and it was a huge play for the Eagles.
Foles, who started the season as a backup, deserves plenty of credit as well. He didnít match Bradyís numbers on Sunday but he delivered plenty of big plays in crucial moments, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns while earning MVP honors. Donít be surprised if heís starting for another NFL team next fall.
I watched the game in 55 inches of high-definition glory, from the comfort of my recliner, with a big bowl of chili, a slice (or two) of cheesecake and the company of good friends.
Super Sunday, indeed.
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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com