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Late TD catch, fumble recovery lift Eagles over Patriots 41-33 for first Super Bowl title

Ben Goessling, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Football

MINNEAPOLIS -- They traded blows in a duel that will lead to as many retrospectives as it did records, the five-time champion and the unheralded former backup trading touchdown drives like Tiger Woods and Bob May trading birdies at the 2000 PGA Championship.

But in a quarterbacking bout that will be celebrated for ages, it was Nick Foles, not Tom Brady, who ended the night doing the celebrating.

In a game where Brady broke his own record for passing yards and became the first passer to eclipse 500 yards in a Super Bowl, Foles got the better of him. He threw for 373 yards, overcoming his only interception and conjuring up two of his three passing touchdowns in the second half, as the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII over the New England Patriots by a score of 41-33.

It was the Eagles' first Super Bowl title, and their first NFL championship since 1960. The loss dropped the Patriots to 5-3 in Super Bowls since they began their remarkable run with Brady and coach Bill Belichick.

Foles, named the MVP of the game, hit eight of his 11 passes for 102 yards in the first quarter, while Brady connected on six of his nine passes for 100 yards. It was the first time in Super Bowl history both quarterbacks had thrown for more than 100 yards in the first quarter.

In the first half alone, the two teams combined for 673 yards of offense. Both had two running backs who averaged at least five yards per carry. Seventeen plays went for 15 yards or more.

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Accompanied by a huge video projection of Prince in "Purple Rain," Justin Timberlake sang "I Would Die 4 U" during the halftime show at Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

And in perhaps the strangest twist, both Brady and Foles were targeted with passes coming off reverses; Danny Amendola's was a touch too far for Brady's outstretched hands, while Trey Burton hit Foles for a one-yard score on fourth down near the end of the first half, making Foles the first player in Super Bowl history to record passing and receiving touchdowns in the same game.

The duel between the most decorated quarterback in NFL history and the Eagles' serendipitous hero continued in the second half. Brady found Rob Gronkowski -- limited to one catch for nine yards on five first-half targets -- for back-to-back strikes of 25 and 24 yards, before hitting him for 14 yards on a 3rd-and-6 and connecting with him for a five-yard touchdown.

Foles came back with another scoring drive, hitting Nelson Agholor for 17 yards and Zach Ertz for 14 on a drive augmented by the Eagles' zone runs. A replay review upheld his 22-yard strike to Corey Clement, beyond two Patriots defenders, for a touchdown that restored the Eagles' 10-point lead, until Brady led a seven-play, 75-yard drive for another touchdown that made it 29-26 Eagles at the end of three madcap quarters.

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