Fly, Eagles, Fly! Foles Makes a Champion Out of Philly

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America loves the story of the underdog and mostly everyone was rooting for the feel-good story of backup Nick Foles.

He saw himself as an underdog, embracing that role for much of the playoffs, but after putting this team on his back in a game of this magnitude, Foles is a beloved Philadelphia legend after an exhilarating 41-33 victory in Super Bowl LII on Sunday night.

After a desperation heave by Tom Brady, as time ran off the clock, Eagles coach Doug Pederson, soaking wet, following a traditional Gatorade shower, trudged through the mass of players and cameras to shake Bill Belichick’s hand. The green and silver confetti rained on the Eagles, and thousands of fans let out the full-throated roars at an electric U.S. Bank Stadium. The players jumped around in stunned disbelief on the field, hugged each other with smiles on their faces, even some weeping in tears. Filled with joy, Foles and Carson Wentz, the two quarterbacks, shared a beautiful hug.

Two months ago, no one thought Foles would put this team on his back and silence his critics. He took his game to another level with much at stake, and filled in nicely for five games after replacing Carson Wentz. Impeded by decades of frustration and ineptitude, the Eagles fought against heavy odds and ended a long-suffering drought. And as painful as the past has been for the Eagles, those who waited this long to see their team win a championship for a first time since 1960 should kindly thank Foles.

Especially without Wentz in action, due to a torn ACL injury he suffered toward the end of the regular season, his unavailability was a constant curiosity. Among the narratives, not to mention public opinion, in view of his inconsistencies and unpredictability, mostly everyone outside of Philly doubted Foles and the Eagles.

These Birds in green, though, dismissed skepticism about their playoff fortunes and knew what they were capable of doing to get to the Super Bowl. They played together, played the toughest and most inspiring brand of football that made this win sweeter than a Tastykake.

It’s one thing to make it this far, and it’s another to reward a title-starving city with the franchise’s first Super Bowl win. The Eagles’ long run of dominance this season epitomized the toughness and grit of the hometown crowd. This, to put it simply, was an opportunity for the Eagles to seize, representing a city that demands this kind of tenacity and unwavering determination.

With 34 seconds left to go in the half, Foles was left alone on the right side of the offensive line when he shifted and when running back Corey Clement took the snap. It was a gutsy direct snap to Clement, a toss to tight end Trey Burton and a sensational lob to a wide-open Foles. It was a play that the Eagles ran perfectly, a “Philly Special” that utterly confused Matt Patricia’s defense. Maybe it was daring of Pederson to pull out his bag of tricks, but it proved to be a brainy move and it certainly worked.

This is what Philly fans appreciate in the City of Brotherly Love, often known as the City of Toughly Love. The Eagles also had a gritty defense that took the pressure off the backup quarterback and a safety nearly beheading a Patriots receiver. Brandin Cook took a nasty, vicious hit on a blindside from Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins in the second quarter.

This all sounded impossible from the beginning, and now it all seems surreal for the Eagles. More surprisingly, they somehow survived without Wentz and thrived with Foles at quarterback. It’s unfathomable drama like Sunday’s that he’s suddenly worthy of attention. He was phenomenal throwing for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns.

He not only outdueled Tom Brady, he was Philly’s unlikely hero, a champion, only greater than Rocky Balboa. And so, this night, not intimidated by his counterpart, nervous or jittery playing in the biggest game of his career, Nick Foles produced a  long-awaited championship for the city of Philadelphia. There isn’t another backup quarterback this stellar out there. You didn’t see this coming from Foles? Neither did I.

Much controversy surrounded Pink spitting a throat lozenge out of her mouth before the beautiful singing of the national anthem. Viewers voiced their displeasure over Justin Timberlake performing at halftime which was entertaining but emotional with a music video of Prince. There were no complaints, only ground-thumping cheers from a crowd when Clement caught a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. It appeared that Clement bobbled the ball in his arms before stepping out of bounds, but the officials stood by the call after taking a look to confirm the ruling.

With 2:25 to play, trailing by a point in the fourth quarter, the Eagles reclaimed the lead 38-33 when Foles lofted a pass to a leaping Zach Ertz for an 11-yard touchdown pass. For the win? Well…

There he was, Brady, in the closing minutes of Super Bowl 52, with a chance to once again take his team down the field. This was his moment in the fourth quarter, one that in reality he has owned in recent memory.

Yet Brady, the oldest NFL MVP at age 40, was unable to conjure up another dramatic, improbable fourth-quarter drive in those last two minutes. The ball was secured in his hands until he fumbled it. With just over two minutes remaining, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham ripped the ball out of Brady’s hands and Philadelphia’s Derek Barnett recovered.

Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards, which meant absolutely nothing when the top dogs from Philly stood in his way. That’s not to say the Patriots’ offense wasn’t stellar. It’d be misleading and irresponsible to say they weren’t as good as the Eagles when the Patriots set a record for zero punts in this annual event. By the way, the two teams set a Super Bowl record for most total yards combined with 1,151.

Still, the Eagles not only won a high-scoring affair but also dethroned the greatest to ever play.

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