I was debating about watching a certain sporting event on Sunday night. I wrestled with the decision for quite some time through the day. Do I tune in and see the smug, arrogant look on Tom Brady’s face for a few hours or should I find some movies on Netflix and simply follow the game cast on ESPN’s website.
I gave in to wanting to see Brady and the Patriots take on the underdog Philadelphia Eagles and, honestly, I was really glad I did. I started my viewing towards the tail end of the first quarter after the Eagles scored the first touchdown of the game. Interesting to note, this was the first time that the Pats scored in the first quarter in the Brady era.
Anyways, I was entertained by the quality of the game. From when I came in until the final play of the game, I was pretty well suckered into the Big 12-ish game that we were given on Sunday night. Given how both teams don’t really give up a lot of points, I was banking on a 20-17 style of game. Heck, that was just the first half.
Maybe the most interesting part of the opening half was the decision by both teams to run a trick play. I love trick plays and running them in the last game of the year with everything on the line? That makes the most sense. The Patriots tried theirs first, a reverse pass to Tom Brady who was unable to come down with the ball. While I like the idea, the thought of putting Brady out there with a strong safety bearing down on him wasn’t the best of ideas.
Of course the Eagles had to one up the Pats with their idea and execution. Calling a trick play on a fourth and goal takes some guts in the first place, but a reverse pass at the one yard line? With the compliment of Eagles running backs, I would’ve thought it’d be a hammer down play, not a throw to a wide open Nick Foles for a score. Doug Pederson, the head coach for Philly, really treated this game like he was playing a game of Madden 18 against an online opponent with his gutsy play calls.
The biggest play of the first half probably wasn’t what you thought it was. It wasn’t the touchdowns or field goals but rather when New England’s Brandon Cooks got lit up after catching the ball. Not sure how it wasn’t flagged for a helmet to helmet hit, but Cooks left the game and New England’s offense wasn’t the same through the rest of the first half without their deep threat and Rob Gronkowski being blanketed by the Eagles’ defense.
Overall first half grade: B+. Entertaining with only one punt. First half would have gotten a higher grade but I missed most of the first quarter due to that internal struggle.
New England came out of the gate like a different team in the second half as Gronk became GRONK with four catches on that opening drive. The game became a back and forth score fest which the NFL probably enjoyed seeing.
However, I was surprised not once but twice the replay officials in this game. In both Philly touchdowns in the second half I was expecting them to get overturned because the NFL has never figured out what a catch is. The second one, with the Eagles’ tight end, was about the same situation as the Pittsburgh tight end a few weeks ago in the regular season, but this time they declared it a catch on replay.
It’d be interesting to see how the NFL is going to handle what a catch is going for during the offseason.
The biggest play in the second half though was the only sack of the game where Brady fumbled the ball away. I think everyone knows if that turnover doesn’t happen that the Pats drive and probably win that game. They nearly came up with the hail mary at end of the game anyways.
Second half grade: A+. Some of the best 30 minutes of football mixed with drama and big plays on both sides. That is what playoff football is all about.
My MVP was the Eagles offensive line. Yes, Foles had a great game but it starts upfront. He was never sacked, and the offensive line opened up running lanes for the running backs all night. It was a great game by their five big dudes upfront.
This was probably one of the best, if not the best, game in the last 15 years in the bowl. Both teams left it out on the field as they should have. Just a great contest between two great teams this year. Shout out to the Patriots who have kept this dynasty going in the last 15-16 years in the salary cap era. The way they have been able to be the most consistent franchise in the league, making the Super Bowl about every other year on average, we might not ever see this again in professional football.
It’s easy to hate Tom Brady and the Patriots, but they deserve respect for being able to keep it going. They’ve done a wonderful job. A 5-3 record in eight game isn’t terrible.
So another year, another great Patriots game in the SB. Hopefully we get another great one next year.