EAGLES OUTPLAYED AND OUTCOACHED PATS IN SB 52
If you wanted to see a low-scoring super bowl with rock-ribbed defense, then Super Bowl LII Sunday was not for you. Those folks should have turned to the History Channel and watched “Alaska—The Last Frontier” or “Family Feud” on the Game Channel Network. Sunday’s football extravaganza was just that—the second-highest scoring game in history, just a single point shy of Super Bowl XXIX in 1995 when the San Francisco 49ers beat San Diego 49-26. Philadelphia’ stunning 41-33 upset victory over the New England “dynasty” established many new marks—the most points scored by a losing team, quarterback Tom Brady’s 500 yards passing in a losing effort, the most total offense by both teams (1,151 yards) and fewest turnovers by each team (one). The Eagles made their third time the charm after losing Super Bowl XV (Oakland 27-10) and SB XXXIX (New England 24-21) by defeating the greatest coach (Bill Belichick) and quarterback (Tom Brady) in NFL history.
Only in this super bowl, Belichick was totally outcoached by Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson, who only nine years ago was coaching a parochial high school in Louisiana. He used a couple of “gadget plays” that worked to perfection with one producing a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles from tight end Trey Burton after some razzle-dazzle laterals.
Belichick had most of the football writers and television announcers scratching their noggins when it was announced that defensive back Malcolm Butler was benched and would not play at all. Butler had played in every game and was on the Pats’ defense 98 per cent of the time during the regular season.
Butler’s replacement, Eric Rowe, struggled early and gave up three catches for 66 yards, including Foles’ first touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery.
After going into the dressing room trailing by 10 points (22-12), the Patriots came roaring out by taking the second-half kickoff and moving downfield at a rapid pace, with Brady finding his favorite target Rob Gronkowski on a 5-yard touchdown pass, reducing their deficit to three points.
After exchanging touchdowns, Brady once again found Gronkowski on a fade route for a 4-yard touchdown, putting New England ahead for the first—and only—time, 33-32 with 9:22 left in the game.
What appeared like another late comeback by New England was squelched when tight end Zach Ertz grabbed a short toss from Foles at the two and catapulted himself into the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown with 2:21 left.
Trailing 38-33, Patriots fans just knew that Brady was going to engineer one of his patented late-game touchdown marches. But he was guilty of perhaps the most elementary axiom for any quarterback—protect the football—as he had the ball stripped on a pass attempt by Eagle Brandon Graham and recovered by rookie Derek Barnett.
This led to a 46-yard field goal by Eagles’ young kicker Jake Elliott which looked like the icing on the cake as the clock showed 1:05 left and the Pats were void of time outs.
Brady moved his team into position where a Hail Mary pass and a two-point conversion would tie the score, but the long aerial was batted around and fell harmlessly to the ground as time ran out.
Philadelphia stole a page from former New York Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin, who defeated New England in Super Bowls XLII (17-14) and XLVI (21-17) by being mentally tough throughout the game and playing excellent defense when the going got tough.
The Eagles knew their defense and running game were good enough to beat New England. This season Philadelphia was third in defense, including first against the run and third in rushing.
Another key to victory over the Patriots was to control the clock because it limits Brady’s possessions and also puts pressure on the Pats to score every time they got the ball, especially when they got in the red zone. This was a huge key to the Eagles’ upset victory as they hung onto the football for 34:04 compared to 25:56 for the losers.
And if Doug Pederson doesn’t realize what he accomplished with the win, he should ask Mike Martz, John Fox, Andy Reid, Pete Carroll and Dan Quinn who all went into the Super Bowl with what they believe was the ideal game plan and lost to Belichick and Brady.
KWICKIES…I was saddened to learn that Ronnie Anderson passed away over the weekend. Ronnie was a fixture on the baseball field at West Orange and was one tremendous coach. When his Chiefs were headed for the state playoffs, he would ask me to throw batting practice and show the hitters plenty of curve balls. His many teams did very well most of the time.
Gary Woodland scored a par on the first playoff hole against Chez Reavie to win the PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open Sunday. Woodland was three behind third-round leader Rickie Fowler, who faded with a 73 while Woodland shot a sizzling 64.
Not many NFL fans were surprised when it was announced that Houston Texans’ three-time Most Valuable Defensive Player J.J. Watt was named as the recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award last weekend. Watt was only the fourth defensive lineman to win the award in its 48-year history, joining Warren Moon as one of two Houston players to win it.
And while on the subject of Houston players, former Oiler Robert Brazile was one of six NFL players to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2018. Joining him will be Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher.
Houston Astros’ star closer Ken Giles won his salary arbitration case Saturday, which gave the righthander a $4.0499 million raise to $4.6 million for the 2018 season. Giles was paid $550,100 last season.
U.S downhill skier Lindsey Vonn appears to be ready for the Winter Olympics that starts tomorrow on NBC as she won the women’s World Cup downhill Saturday in Germany. It was her 80th career World Cup victory.
Talk has already begun about New England’s talented tight end Rob Gronkowski thinking about retiring. This may be a perfect time for Bill Belichick to trade him while he still has plenty of value. This won’t be the last we hear of it.
With the Silsbee girls’ basketball team having to forfeit five games for using an ineligible player, the Orangefield Lady Bobcats moved into the No. 1 seed in District 22-4A.
JUST BETWEEN US…Thursday’s University Interscholastic League’s realignment made two local football coaches happy while four others may be singing the blues. Orangefield’s Josh Smalley is ecstatic that his Bobcats moved down to Class 3A while West Orange-Stark’s head man Cornel Thompson is happy his team won’t have to travel far again for the next two seasons. “I’m glad when the UIL cut off the numbers in December it dropped us to 3A, where most of the schools in our district are the same size as us,” Smalley said. “In an eight-team district I won’t have to find many pre-district games.” Thompson chimed in, “My problem is that I can’t find any school within 200 miles that wants to play us.” Bridge City and Little Cypress-Mauriceville have only Lumberton as an opponent under 100 miles away. Vidor will have to travel more this fall while Deweyville has most of its opponents located in the Piney Woods of East Texas.