Subscribe for 33¢ / day

MINNEAPOLIS — Cast aside once in Philadelphia, Nick Foles delivered the city its first Super Bowl title, and he outdueled the great Tom Brady to do it.

Foles, who took over when Carson Wentz injured his right knee in mid-December, matched the five-time champion and three-time MVP big play for big play Sunday in leading the Eagles past the New England Patriots 41-33.

He threw the go-ahead touchdown to tight end Zach Ertz from 11 yards on third-and-7 with 2:21 remaining, capping a seven-minute, 14-play drive that covered 75 yards, kept Brady cooling his cleats on the sideline and allowed the Eagles' exhausted defenders to catch their collective breath in a game that featured 1,151 total yards, the most in any NFL game in the Super Bowl era.

Brady threw for more yards — a playoff career-high 505 to Foles' 373 — but Foles matched Brady's three touchdown tosses and even caught another.

He hauled in tight end Trey Burton's toss from the 1 that gave Philadelphia a 22-12 halftime edge and made him the first player in Super Bowl history to be on both ends of a touchdown pass in the same game.

Brady nearly beat him to it.

But the ambling Brady, although wide open, couldn't quite haul in receiver Danny Amendola's high pass for what would have been a nifty over-the-shoulder reception which might have gone all 35 yards for the score.

That brought to mind Gisele Bundchen's famous dig after one of Brady's two losses to Eli Manning and the Giants in the Super Bowl when his supermodel wife responded to hecklers by complaining about the Patriots' many dropped passes that day.

"You've to catch the ball when you're supposed to catch the ball," she fumed. "My husband cannot ... throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time."

Nor could he haul in Amendola's throw early in the second quarter with New England trailing 9-3.

Foles' only interception was a fluke, but it did help Brady and the Patriots staunch an early stumble to stay in it until the very end when Brady's desperation pass into the end zone on the final play failed to find its big target, Rob Gronkowski.

Foles was 28 of 43 and wasn't sacked at all. Brady was 28 of 48, and while he didn't throw any interceptions, his only sack was a doozy.

Brady, who threw TD passes on all three of New England's second-half drives, dropped back on second-and-2 at his 33 when Brandon Graham swept in and jarred the ball loose. Derek Barnett smothered it at the 31 with just over two minutes remaining.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles had tremendous success as a starter under Chip Kelly his sophomore season. He threw 29 TDs and only two picks in 11 starts, including playoffs in 2013. Foles posted a passer rating of 119.2, third-highest in league history. He tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and won an offensive MVP award at a Pro Bowl.

But Foles was traded to St. Louis for Sam Bradford in March 2015. He lost his starting job to Case Keenum and asked for his release after Jared Goff was drafted No. 1 overall. Foles considered hanging up his cleats before Reid persuaded him to go to Kansas City to be Alex Smith's backup.

After one season with the Chiefs, Foles returned to Philly for $12 million over two years to provide insurance behind Wentz.

Now he's a folk hero for a franchise that had gone 0-for-2 in Super Bowls and for a legion of fans who were rooting for anybody other than Brady and the Patriots, who were seeking their third title in four years.

Patriots' defense pushed around: So many times this season New England's defense made plays when it had to give Tom Brady and the Patriots offense a chance to win.

But it couldn't figure out the Eagles on Sunday.

The 41 points New England allowed were more than they have given up in any Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick era. It also surrendered 613 total yards, including 373 through the air to MVP Nick Foles. LeGarrette Blount, a former Patriots running back, rushed 14 times for 90 yards and touchdown.

The Patriots offense did its part. It didn't punt and had no turnovers through three quarters. After playing from behind most of the night, Brady gave New England its first lead of the game, 33-32 on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 9:22 to play.

But on the ensuing drive New England safety Devin McCourty couldn't keep Zach Ertz from stretching the ball across the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown reception from Nick Foles that wound up being the game winner.

The Patriots entered the game with a 159-15 record, including a perfect 16-0 in the playoffs, when they had won the turnover battle.

They had the first one of the night, on an interception by safety Duron Harmon in the first half.

But they played with a different lineup against the Eagles Sunday, with starting cornerback Malcolm Butler benched in favor of Eric Rowe.

Butler missed a day of practice last week with an illness. He warmed up and was in uniform, but didn't play. It was the first Patriots game in which Butler did not play a first quarter snap since their Super Bowl win over Seattle to cap the 2014 season.

Asked about the change during the television interview at halftime, coach Bill Belichick said it was a coaching decision.

"I made the decisions that give us the best chance to win," he said.


Load comments