Nick Foles an unlikely hero as Philadelphia Eagles finally come good in Super Bowl

Cast aside once in Philadelphia, Nick Foles delivered the city its first Super Bowl title.

Nick Foles an unlikely hero as Philadelphia Eagles finally come good in Super Bowl

He outduelled the great Tom Brady to do it.

“Being a part of this and being drafted to Philadelphia, and being fortunate enough to come back and be a part of this team, to be a piece of this puzzle, I mean, it’s been a long time coming and I know there’s going to be a lot of celebrating tonight,” Foles said.

Foles, who took over when Carson Wentz injured his right knee in mid-December, matched Brady, 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.

After an unusually slow start, Brady led the favored Patriots to scores on five of six possessions, and Foles kept right on coming, executing coach Doug Pederson’s aggressive calls.

“I wasn’t worrying about the scoreboard, I wasn’t worrying about the time, I was just playing ball,” Foles said. “I think sometimes you start worrying about that too much, it starts creeping in your brain. I was just playing, whatever play Doug called, I was just going to go out there and rip it.”

After watching Brady put the Patriots ahead 33-32 with 9:22 left, Foles drove the Eagles 75 yards in 14 plays, hitting tight end Zach Ertz from 11 yards on third-and-7 for the go-ahead TD with 2:21 left.

That drive lasted a tick more than seven minutes and kept Brady cooling his cleats on the sideline while allowing 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.

That meant the world when Brady got the ball back and Brandon Graham swept in and jarred the ball loose for the game’s lone sack. Derek Barnett smothered it at the 31 with just over two minutes remaining, and Jake Elliott’s 46-yard field goal, the longest in a Super Bowl by a rookie, made it an eight-point cushion.

It also gave Brady just a minute to work his magic.

He started at his 9 with 58 seconds remaining and drove the Patriots to midfield before time ran out on New England as a desperation pass fell in the end zone.

Foles searched out Brady, but never did find him in all the chaos and confetti.

“I didn’t get to see Tom. I was looking for Tom. It got pretty crazy really fast,” Foles said.

“I mean, he’s one of the greatest of all time. He’s been unbelievable. He was unbelievable tonight. I can’t say enough about him.”

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.

No quarterback has gone from backup to title game MVP in one season since Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe in the 2001 season. Foles topped the 40-year-old Brady, football’s greatest winner, in the most prolific offensive game in NFL history, with the Eagles defeating the favored New England Patriots 41-33.

Foles finished it off by engineering the type of game-winning drive that made Brady famous, and he watched his defense stop Brady to seal the victory and the Eagles first Super Bowl — their earlier titles came before the Super Bowl era.

“The stage was never too big for him all year,” said Zach Ertz, who caught the game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass from Foles with 2:21 remaining. “To get in a shootout with that guy on the other team is probably not ideal for anyone ever. The guy is the best quarterback to ever play the game.”

But on this night Brady played second fiddle to Foles despite throwing for a playoff record 505 yards. Foles was nearly as prolific with 373 yards and three touchdown passes and also caught a TD pass for the Eagles (16-3). Brady dropped his own chance at a reception on a trick play by the Patriots (15-4).

That all added up to Foles becoming the first backup quarterback to win the Super Bowl since Brady beat two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner to win his first title 16 years ago.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this, but I felt good,” Foles said. “I felt calm. I think the big thing that helped me was knowing that I didn’t have to be Superman. I have amazing team-mates.”

One of those teammates delivered the key defensive play on a night when the offenses combined for 1,151 yards — the most in any modern NFL game. With Brady poised to lead one of his memorable comebacks, Brandon Graham knocked the ball out of his hand for a fumble that rookie Derek Barnett recovered with 2:09 to play.

The questions after the game immediately turned to the future with Foles expected to return to the backup role when Wentz is healthy. In the other locker room, Brady was asked if he would come back for another run at age 41.

“I expect to be back,” he said. “It’s 15 minutes after the game ended, so I would like to process this. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be back.”

Brady did just about all he could to win the game, with his most glaring miss coming as a receiver on a trick play in the first half when he dropped a pass from receiver Danny Amendola.

Foles topped him in that role with his touchdown late in the first half that made him the first player to catch and throw a TD pass in the same Super Bowl.

On fourth down from the 1, Foles motioned into the slot, while rookie Corey Clement took a direct snap. Clement pitched to tight end Trey Burton, a former quarterback at Florida. Foles slid into the right side of the end zone, uncovered and caught the touchdown on a play coach Doug Pederson calls “Philly Special.” “Yeah, that was something we’ve been working on, and Doug and I were talking, and he was like, ‘Let’s just run it.’

“It was a good time,” Foles said. “And the end was a little wider than I thought, so I was like, ‘I really need to sell like I’m not doing anything.’

“And it worked, Trey made an amazing throw. I just looked it in and, yeah, we’ve repped it for a while, so I was excited to get it run in the Super Bowl.”

That gave the Eagles a 22-12 halftime lead but Brady led three straight second-half touchdown drives — two to Gronkowski. Foles kept pace with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Clement and another drive for a field goal that kept the Eagles in it until the dramatic finish.

“It kind of felt like whoever had the ball last could win this game, and we were just fortunate enough to put ourselves in a position to end the game with that drive for the touchdown,” Pederson said. “Our defense stepped up and did a nice job to finish it for us.”

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