MINNEAPOLIS — As their delirious fans sang their theme song and their owner lifted the Lombardi Trophy, the Philadelphia Eagles finally could breathe freely.
Yo, Philly, you really did beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a Super Bowl that rewrote the offensive record book.
Nick Foles guided the drive of a lifetime, Zach Ertz made a bobbling touchdown catch that had to survive replay review, and an exhausted defense came up with a big play in the final moments Sunday for a 41-33 victory. For the first time since 1960, the Eagles are NFL champions.
“We’ve played this game since we were little kids, we dreamed about this moment,” said Foles, the game’s MVP. “There’s plenty of kids watching this game right now dreaming about this moment and someday will be here.”
In a record-setting shootout between backup QB Foles and five-time champ Brady of the favored Patriots, Foles led a pressure-packed 75-yard drive to the winning touchdown, an 11-yard pass to Ertz with 2:21 remaining.
Then Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady and Derek Barnett recovered, setting up rookie Jake Elliot’s 46-yard field goal for an eight-point lead.
Brady got his team to midfield, but his desperation pass fell to the ground in the end zone as time expired.
“For us, it was all about one stop we had to make,” Graham said. “We went out here and made that one stop.”
It was the first Super Bowl title for Philadelphia (16-3), which was 7-9 last season.
Foles orchestrated the victory with the kind of drive NFL MVP Brady, a five-time champion, is known for. The drive covered 14 plays, including a fourth-down conversion.
“I felt calm. I mean, we have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff,” Foles said. “We felt confident coming in, and we just went out there and played football.”
The Eagles had to survive a video replay because the ball popped into the air as Ertz landed in the end zone.
“If they would have overturned that, I don’t know what would have happened to the city of Philadelphia,” Ertz said. “But I’m so glad they didn’t overturn it.”
The Patriots (15-4) seemed ready to take their sixth championship with Brady and coach Bill Belichick in eight Super Bowls. Brady threw for a game-record 505 yards and three TDs, hitting Rob Gronkowski for 4 yards before Stephen Gostkowski’s extra point gave New England its first lead, 33-32.
Then Foles engineered the gutsiest drive of his life.
“We couldn’t make a play to give the ball back to the offense,” Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore said.
Foles has been something of a journeyman in his six pro seasons, but he has been spectacular in four career playoff games. He finished Sunday’s game 28-of-43 for 373 yards and three TDs.
The combined 1,151 yards of offense were the most in any modern NFL game, and Brady’s 505 were the most in any playoff contest. The 40-year-old master finished 28-of-48 and picked apart the Eagles until the final two series.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson, a graduate of Ferndale High School, brought home the championship in his second year in charge. Belichick is 5-3 in Super Bowls.
After the game, Brady indicated he will return for a 19th season even as Gronkowski was hedging on his future.
“I mean it’s 15 minutes after the game ended, so I’d like to process this a little bit,” Brady said. “I wouldn’t see why I wouldn’t be back.”
Gronkowski, who has played eight superb but injury-riddled years, said “I am definitely going to look at my future.”
It was such a wild game that Foles caught a touchdown pass, and Brady was on the opposite end of a Danny Amendola throw that went off his fingertips.
The weird image of Brady ambling downfield on a pass pattern came three plays after New England lost receiver Brandin Cooks to a concussion on a vicious but clean hit by Malcolm Jenkins in the second quarter. Amendola’s pass required an over-the-shoulder grab and the ball fell off Brady’s outstretched hands.
Brady got back to passing after a wild interception. Alshon Jeffery nearly made a spectacular catch near the Patriots’ goal line, only to juggle the ball into the air. Duron Harmon picked it off and returned it to the 10. Moments later, Brady was connecting with Chris Hogan for 42 yards.
James White broke several tackles with a 26-yard touchdown run and it was 15-12. That gave White seven touchdowns in his past three postseason games, including the overtime winner in last year’s Super Bowl.
But the Eagles still had 2:04 left in the half — and some more magic in their bag.
A short third-down throw to rookie Corey Clement on a circle route turned into a 55-yard explosion down to the Patriots’ 8. Philly got to the 1 and on fourth down, it was Foles’ turn to morph into a receiver.
He did better than Brady. On fourth down, Clement took a direct snap, pitched to tight end Trey Burton, and the former Florida QB hit an uncovered Foles. The Eagles were up 22-12 at halftime, the most points New England has allowed in the opening half of a Super Bowl under Belichick.