Last night was one of the best Super Bowls of all time, shattering records and shocking the masses. When the final whistle sounded, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots by a score of 41-33.
There were lessons to be learned from the game, that any team, from a Pop-Warner squad to the Michigan Wolverines can pick up on.
Having a competent backup quarterback is important
When Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz tore his ACL late in the year, many thought the Eagles season went down the drain. Backup Nick Foles, who’s had starting experience in the past, had a string of amazing playoff performances that culminated in him winning Super Bowl MVP.
If Foles isn’t the backup for the Eagles, if Philly had a typical mediocre at most QB behind Wentz, they wouldn’t have even went to the Super Bowl. Planning ahead is important, and props to the Eagles front-office for having the wisdom to have more than one good option at the quarterback position.
Even the great coaches can be questioned
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick benched his star cornerback Malcolm Butler for “football reasons”, saying he put the players on the field that gave them the best chance to win. Butler, only 27, has been a Pro-Bowl player, will forever be known as a Super Bowl hero for intercepting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal-line to clinch a Super Bowl victory, yet Brown didn’t play one defensive snap against the Eagles.
If the Patriots won the game, this decision wouldn’t be discussed, it would have become an afterthought. But they lost, and the pass-coverage by the Patriots was downright atrocious most of the game. Foles completed 28 passes for 373 yards. At some point in the game, Butler should have been put in, because he couldn’t possibly have done any worse than how the secondary was performing.
When evidence presents itself that is contrary to your initial gameplan, adaptation is necessary, something Belichick is known for. But even the greats can be stubborn, and now we can only ask, what if Butler played? Would the Patriots have won?
The best player on the field can’t do it all
Tom Brady threw for 505 yards and still lost. How can that be? He had no margin for error, and that eventually caught up with him and will haunt him for the rest of his days.
The run game for the Patriots was not effective enough to consistently move the chains, the offense was Brady or bust.
On the defensive side, the Pats couldn’t stop anything, the run game was hitting at all cylinders for the Eagles, and the pass game was too. Which led to the Eagles repeatedly driving down the field and scoring, the only surprise that would occur is when the Eagles didn’t get any points on a drive.
Combining all the factors mentioned above, Brady had to basically throw the equivalent of a no-hitter by a pitcher in baseball to win this game. And he was doing so until late in the 4th, when he stepped up into the pocket to throw and Brandon Graham stripped the ball, the Eagles recovered the fumble, and in retrospect, that was the dagger that slayed the Patriots championship hopes in 2018.
No margin for error. There isn’t another quarterback in the league that could have kept the game as close as it was with all the factors that put the chances of winning into a corner. It was a heroic effort by Brady, but this is a team sport, he couldn’t do it all himself, and his lone big mistake couldn’t be committed. No margin for error.
It takes guts to win the big games
In one of the ballsiest moves ever in Super Bowl history, Doug Pederson opted to go for it on 4th and goal late in the first half to put the Eagles up by ten points instead of settling for a chip-shot field goal.
The Eagles called a timeout and came up with the perfect play call. A trick play that had fans and Patriots defenders both going “What the hell just happened?”
The most physical team usually wins
On both sides of the ball, the Eagles were bringing it to the Patriots. The defense continuously got pressure on Tom Brady. Although Brady had an amazing game, it wasn’t easy out there for Brady, he was getting hit time and time again and didn’t have much time to throw.
The offensive line for Philly was impressive, they simply man-handled the Patriots from start to finish. Nick Foles didn’t even get hit until the second half. On most plays, Foles had all the time in the world to throw, and huge holes were opened for Eagles running backs Jay Ajayi and Legarrette Blount.
Yes, this game too, when all was said and done, was actually won in the trenches. The D-linemen and O-linemen usually go far too unnoticed. This was a wake-up call for the Patriots, and for teams across the country who know they have deficiencies in these areas. It pays big dividends having the strongest bunch of players on the field.