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Patriots pursuing historical win at Super Bowl LII

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OKLAHOMA CITY – For the sixth time in Super Bowl history, we have a repeat between two teams. Super Bowl LII on Sunday (5:30 p.m. NBC) between New England and Philadelphia is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX. The Patriots also are looking to repeat as world champions for the second time. Only eight times have there been back-to- back winners in the Super Bowl.

Their last matchup, which followed the 2004 season, was an epic contest as both teams battled through a scoreless first quarter, remained tied (7-7) at halftime and again after the third quarter (14-14). The Patriots scored 10 points during the first half of the fourth period for a 24-14 lead, but the Eagles refused to wave the white flag.

Philly drove 79 yards to close the gap when quarterback Donovan McNabb fired a 30-yard scoring strike to Greg Lewis. The drive took 13-plays and milked nearly four minutes off the clock. Down, 24-21, with 1:55 to go, the Eagles’ onside kick was secured by New England’s Christian Fauria. The Eagles D held the Pats to three-and- out, and New England’s punt was downed at the Eagles’ 4-yard line. Philadelphia got one last chance with 46 seconds remaining and about 63 yards for David Akers to boot a tying field goal.

New England’s Rodney Harrison intercepted McNabb’s pass two plays later to squelch any Eagles’ comeback. The Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years.

New England quarterback Tom Brady completed 23 of 33 passing for 236 yards and 2 TDs. Brady is back again in Super Bowl LII—the lone participant from that epic showdown 13 years ago. So is Bill Belichick, New England’s head coach for the last 18 years. Together, Brady and Belichick are in their eighth Super Bowl and seeking a sixth championship.

Sunday’s Super Bowl will be played in Minneapolis, and the forecast for the Twin Cities is predicted to be a high of 8 degrees, but the temperature inside U.S. Bank Stadium will be a cozy 72 (or higher with body temperatures heating up the place).

Both teams sport an identical 15-3 record and were the No. 1 seeds in their conferences.

Philadelphia edged Atlanta, 15-10, in the NFC Divisional Round. The Falcons held a 10-9 halftime leads, but the Eagles defense showed some fangs in the second half by holding Atlanta scoreless and yielding just 118 yards. Kicker Jake Elliott, who booted a 53-yarder before halftime, added a field goal in the third quarter and another in the fourth to lift the Eagles to the deciding lead.

The Falcons got the ball with six minutes to go and drove to the Eagles’ 2-yard line, but Matt Ryan overthrew Julio Jones in the end zone to end Atlanta’s final effort.

Philly blasted Minnesota, 38-7, in the NFC Championship. The Vikings took a 7-0 lead early in the game, but the Eagles defense put the clamps down the rest of the way. Two turnovers led to 14 points for Philadelphia—Patrick Robinson returned a Minnesota pass for a touchdown and a fumble recovery later set up the Eagles’ 14-7 lead.

The Patriots path in the playoffs was the opposite of Philly’s. New England blew out Tennessee, 35-14, in the AFC Divisional Round and squeaked by Jacksonville, 24-20, in the AFC Championship.

The Titans took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter, but the Pats scored 35 unanswered points.

Tom Brady who threw for 337 yards and three TDs. Halfback James White, recipient of one of Brady’s scoring strikes, also scored on a 6-yard run, was the recipient of one of his scoring strikes.

The Jaguars commanded the first 46 minutes of the AFC Championship and held a 20-10 lead early in the fourth period. Brady twice connected with Danny Amendola with touchdown passes to finish off the Jags.

New England overcame a 25-point deficit in last year’s Super Bowl and scored 31 unanswered points in the final 21 minutes to beat Atlanta, 34-28, in overtime. If the Eagles want to capture their first Lombardi Trophy, they can’t let off the gas if they get a lead Sunday.

Philadelphia is going to have to try to win this thing with a quarterback (Nick Foles) who has 39 starts in six years. New England’s Tom Brady has 36 career starts—in the playoffs. Brady has led the Pats to five Super Bowl titles, and he was named MVP in four of them.

Foles has been solid since taking over for Carson Wentz who blew out a knee near the end of the 2017 season. Foles has completed 64 percent for an average of 180 yards and 8 TDs to 2 INTs.

That’s a rating of 94.8. He completed 78 percent in the postseason for an average of 299 yards and 3 touchdowns. His rating jumped to 122.1 in the playoffs. Brady’s QB rating for the regular season and the postseason was 103.0 and rose to 105.0 during the playoffs.

Foles must get into a rhythm, and the Eagles must open running lanes for LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajaye to balance the offensive attack. Philly was third in the league with 132.2 yards per game during the regular season and averaged 103 during the playoffs. Foles must find his top receivers—tight end Zach Ertz, who caught 85 passes for 949 yards and 8 TDs, and wideout Nelson Agholor, who pulled in 68 passes for 851 yards and 8 TDs.

Leading the Patriots defense are to veterans of a pair of Super Bowls. Linebacker Don’t’a Hightower is healthy and ready to lead the Patriots’ defense. He missed most of the ’17 season with two different injuries. Safety Devin McCourty led New England with 97 tackles this season.

The Eagles have one of the best defenses in 2017, but so did Jacksonville and Brady carved up the Jags in the fourth quarter. Philly’s defense must disrupt Brady’s rhythm. If he gets comfortable in the pocket, he will slice up the Eagles like a Grade A prime rib.

Philadelphia boasts one of the best defensive fronts this year. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Chris Long combined for 27 sacks through the playoffs.

The only concern for New England is the possible loss of Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski who is still questionable with a concussion he suffered in the AFC Championship. What else is there to say about a team that knows how to win Super Bowls?

The Eagles had a tremendous ride going from worst in the NFC East two years ago to NFC champs this year. But the journey will end in Minneapolis as the Patriots look like they are ready to take care of business once again and become the second team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy for a sixth time, tying them with the Steelers. Pittsburgh also is the only team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice. It’s difficult to pick against Brady and Belichick. Pats 27, Eagles 23.

FAST FACTS

*Philadelphia leads the overall series 7-6 over New England.

*New England is 5-4 in the Super Bowl.

*Philadelphia is 0-2 in the Super Bowl.

*NFC leads the Super Bowl series 26-25, but AFC teams have won three straight.

*This is the second Super Bowl in Minneapolis. Washington defeated Buffalo, 37-24, in the Metrodome.

*Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s record: 250-118 (.679) overall (214-74 at New England); 28-10 in the playoffs (27-9 at New England); 5-2 in the Super Bowl; 4-1 vs. Philadelphia.

*Eagles coach Doug Pederson’s record: 22-12 (.647) overall; 2-0 in the playoffs; first Super Bowl and meeting with New England.

*Teams with white jerseys have won 32 Super Bowls (63%).

*New England is favored by 4.5.

*The favored team has won 34 Super Bowls (67%).

*Seedings for the NFL playoff didn’t begin until 42 years ago, and only 12 Super Bowls (29%) have hosted both No. 1 seeds from the NFC and AFC.

*Okies in the Super Bowl—New England: Geneo Grissom (OU), third-team defensive end; Philadelphia: Lane Johnson, starting right tackle.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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