American Football Expert & Columnist
Super Bowl LII Pick Six: What next for Nick Foles fairy tale?
Last Updated: 06/02/18 8:23am
I've been fortunate enough to see a lot of wild games in my time covering the NFL, and I would have to put a stunning Super Bowl LII right up there with the best of them.
The Philadelphia Eagles emerged as 41-33 winners over the New England Patriots to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the first time in the team's history. We had a stunning studio location for our Sky Sports coverage and we had so much fun welcoming Washington Redskins All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman into our crew.
Here are six big takeaways from what will truly go down as a game for the ages...
Super Bowl LII had it all
This really was the Super Bowl that had it all… big plays, 1,151 yards of total offense (there was only one punt in the entire game), huge hits, special teams mistakes, momentum swings, instant replay controversy and a developing in-game story as the Patriots benched starting cornerback Malcolm Butler even though he was fully healthy. The reasons for that particular demotion are still not known.
Two Eagles touchdowns went under instant replay review, including the eventual game-winner scored by tight end Zach Ertz. I have to say, I'm glad the NFL stayed with the original rulings on the field in both cases.
I think it would have been damaging to the league to have such a historic game decided by an official sitting in New York. I like the fact that the officials - and the players - determined where the Vince Lombardi Trophy ended up. That way, we can talk about the game and not some officiating controversy.
Pederson stays aggressive
The state of Minnesota adopted the 'Bold North' theme during Super Bowl week and Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson must have been inspired because he started aggressive and stayed that way the entire time against the Patriots.
And that's what you have to do to New England. You cannot play scared against the legendary pairing of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. If you get them on the ropes, you have to keep pounding away at them.
Pederson had Nick Foles throw deep, he successfully rolled the dice on two fourth downs and was successful with both. The first was a 'Philly Special' touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton to quarterback Nick Foles. The second came earlier on the drive that put Philly ahead for good with Ertz's touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Pederson called the game of his life and was rewarded with the biggest prize in American Football.
Foles completes fairy-tale story
Two years ago, Nick Foles had fallen out of love with the NFL. He had also seemingly run out of chances and was a forgotten back-up passer with the St. Louis Rams. He was on the verge of retirement before deciding to give the game one more chance as a reserve with the Kansas City Chiefs and, in 2017, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Fast forward to Super Bowl Sunday and Foles was unstoppable. He now stands on top of the NFL mountain as the Most Valuable Player in the league's showcase game and as the man who slayed the dragon that is Brady.
Foles was decisive, brave and on the money with virtually every throw as he racked up 373 passing yards and three touchdowns. But we should hardly be surprised - he compiled a quarterback rating over 100 in each of the three playoff wins for Philadelphia, completed more than 72 per cent of his passes and averaged 323.7 yards per game.
What impressed me the most was how Foles never shrunk or crumbled under the pressure. Every time the Patriots pulled close, Foles would deliver another scoring drive. And when New England went ahead for the first time in the game with a little over nine minutes left on the clock, Foles didn't even blink - he produced a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to regain the lead.
Just enough defense
There was not much for those who love good defense to get excited about on Super Bowl Sunday. But the Eagles defense did, in fact, come up with the championship-deciding play when Brandon Graham sacked Tom Brady and knocked the ball loose for Derek Barnett to recover.
It was a massive play that allowed the Eagles to kick a field goal and go up by eight. It also showed the value of perseverance because Philadelphia's D was shredded for so much of the evening before that amazing and historic play.
The timely re-emergence of the defense reminded us that the Eagles were a complete team this season, and on Super Bowl Sunday. Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Nelson Agholor, Corey Clement, Alshon Jeffery and Ertzall went over 50 yards from scrimmage on Sunday. It took every one of the Eagles to win their first Super Bowl.
Still the G.O.A.Ts
Sunday's loss to the Eagles did nothing to diminish the legacies of Bill Belichick or Tom Brady, in my mind. Both will still go down as the greatest to ever do what they do in the NFL.
Belichick was coaching his tail off and digging deep into his bag of tricks. He was just up against a team that - player for player - was superior to his Patriots in so many areas. I would question Belichick's decision to activate and then bench Butler. If you're not going to play him, why have him take up a roster spot? But that aside, Belichick tried everything to drag his team back into contention on a day when they were sloppier than usual.
And, what can we say about Brady? He is a legend who never knows when he is beaten. Brady threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns. Even at the end of the game, Brady faced a fourth-and-10 from near his own goal-line and was almost sacked but somehow earned his team another first down with a quick 13-yard strike to Danny Amendola.
Fast-forward to the very end of the game and he had moved his team downfield enough to be able to heave a Hail Mary pass into the endzone which, unfortunately for him, couldn't be caught. The guy is the ultimate competitor and a quarterback machine. He's not much of a receiver, however, but that is a story for another day.
The Eagles appear set for a sustained period of competitiveness and are hoping to welcome star quarterback Carson Wentz back into the starting line-up in Week One of next season. But what should they do now with Foles?
They have him under contract for one more year and common sense would suggest they keep him in house as insurance with Wentz returning from torn knee ligaments. But doesn't he deserve another shot at being a starter? And, you have to think somebody would give the Eagles a second-round pick for the reigning Super Bowl MVP. Personally, I would love to see him enjoy personal success, but it makes more sense for the Eagles to keep him around.
The Patriots are going to be a fascinating offseason watch. Belichick will be 66 before the start of next season and Brady will be 41. It feels like both are coming to the end of their Hall of Fame careers and we'll see if that ESPN report about in-fighting rears its head again.
Add in the fact that Danny Amendola is a free agent, Butler is heading out of the door and star tight end Rob Gronkowski hinted that he might consider retirement, the Patriots have a world of questions that need to be answered in the offseason.