Nick Foles didn’t look jittery at any point, and he didn’t flinch at the moment of truth. He kept slinging passes and orchestrating the offense like a guy who has been in this spot many times.
Except he hadn’t. And that was the most stunning development in a Super Bowl marked by bizarre happenings.
A backup quarterback went nose-to-nose against the greatest quarterback in NFL history on the biggest stage, and came out victorious, leaving only one question:
Any chance the Vikings can get Foles as their quarterback next season?
Two years ago, Foles nearly retired from football. On Sunday, he bathed in confetti as Super Bowl hero, MVP and champion.
Foles matched Tom Brady big throw for big throw in a quarterback duel that ended with Foles holding the Lombardi Trophy after guiding the Philadelphia Eagles to a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I’m grateful that I made a decision to come back and play,” Foles said.
So is every Eagles player, coach, team employee and fan.
This ending didn’t seem possible after Carson Wentz injured his knee in December and Foles looked shaky in relief. But Foles found his groove in the playoffs and Eagles coach Doug Pederson kept designing aggressive, creative game plans that showed faith in his quarterback.
“This whole postseason Nick has shown exactly who he is and what he can do,” Pederson said.
In visualizing their ideal template for the Super Bowl, the Eagles probably didn’t put “get into a shootout with Tom Brady” at the top of the list. But Super Bowl LII took a wrecking ball to preconceived notions.
Foles played like a cool customer in passing for 373 yards and three touchdowns. He threw darts for touchdowns and to keep drives alive on third down. He put a bow on his performance with a drive that will be etched in Eagles lore.
The Patriots took their first lead of the game 33-32 in the fourth quarter. The Eagles got the ball at their own 25 with 9 minutes 22 seconds left.
No sweat. Foles engineered a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was nothing short of masterful. He completed eight passes for 65 yards, including a gut-check completion on fourth down and an 11-yard dart to Zach Ertz for the go-ahead touchdown.
“I wasn’t worrying about the scoreboard,” Foles said. “I was just playing ball. Whatever play Doug called, I was going to go out there and rip it.”
Foles and Pederson ripped it together.
Pederson showed his guts all game, none more so than with the Eagles facing a fourth-and-1 from their own 45 with less the six minutes remaining. Pederson couldn’t punt because his defense showed zero ability to stop Brady.
Pederson put his faith in Foles to deliver, and he did by a whisker. Foles backpedaled away from pressure and found Ertz for a 2-yard gain.
“I trust my players,” Pederson said. “I trust my instincts. I’m going to maintain that aggressiveness.”
Pederson’s go-for-broke nature and creativity were on full display in the final minute of the first half. He fooled the Patriots with a razzle-dazzle at the goal line.
The Eagles had a fourth down at the 1 with 38 seconds remaining. Pederson called timeout and told Foles his idea as they huddled on the sideline.
“Philly Special” — a trick play the Eagles added to the playbook a month ago. Foles lined up in shotgun. Before the snap, he stepped toward his line pretending to audible. It was a decoy.
The ball was snapped directly to running back Corey Clement, who started to his left and then flipped the ball to tight end Trey Burton running the opposite direction. Burton tossed to a wide-open Foles for a touchdown, giving Philadelphia a 22-12 lead going into halftime.
“That’s probably the best it’s looked,” Foles said.
The same can be said of Foles. He’s never looked so good.
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org