It’s Brady vs. … Foles? … in the Super Bowl

by Gary Shelton on January 22, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL

Monday, 3 a.m.

Samuel Adams vs. Ben Franklin.

Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell.

Donnie Wahlberg vs. Kevin Bacon.

Tom Brady vs. ... Nick Foles?


Well, Super.

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As we prepare for the latest Super Bowl, it should surprise no one that the final steps there came from the quarterbacks. In the NFL, they usually do. But like this? With Brady, the guy everyone expected to be here, against Foles, the guy that no one expected to see.

It is one of the oddest showdowns of Super Bowl history. Usually, both teams have a gunslinger coming off a great season. But Brady has five Super Bowl wins. Foles -- like the rest of Philadelphia -- has none.

But Drew Brees is home, and Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. Philip Rivers is home, and Aaron Rodgers, and Cam Newton. Matt Ryan and Alex Smith and Russell Wilson. Jared Goff and Dak Prescott and Derek Carr.

Both quarterbacks lined up their encounter Sunday. Brady led his team from 10 points down to edge the the Jaguars -- and, hey, wasn't Blake Bortles terrific? Foles clobbered a Vikings team that supposedly had a solid defense.

And here they are.

And so the questions begin. Will Foles be good enough against the Patriots? Will Rob Gronkowski be able to play with the concussion he suffered? Will anyone remember Doug Pederson's name? Will there be more rumors about Bill Belichick leaving? Is Fanuel Hall better than Independence Hall. Does chowder beat cheesesteaks. And so forth.

First, though, let's realize what both winning quarterbacks were able to accomplish on Sunday.

For Brady, the winning was old hat. He's now 6-1 in AFC title games played at home. But this one wasn't easy. Brady had the cut on his hand -- he said he's played with worse -- and he lost Gronkowski and his team was down by 10 and the Jags were playing like a team that expected to win. And Brady pulled it out in one of his best comebacks.

This will be the Patriots eighth visit to the Super Bowl in the Belichick-Brady era.

For Foles, the story was even better. He's been the Eagles starter for only a month -- since Carson Wentz was injured in mid-December -- and he had the lowest rating of the four quarterbacks. But he was terrific. He threw for 352 yards and three scores, and Minnesota -- which stubs its toe a lot in the NFC title game -- never threatened.

Foles' late-season heroics will remind many of a couple of other late-surges in the Super Bowl. Jeff Hostelter came off the bench to replace Phil Simms before Super Bowl XXV. Doug Williams replaced Jay Schroeder and led the Redskins to a win in Super Bowl XXII.

Do you still doubt? Consider this: Minnesota had been giving up 15.8 points per game. Against the Eagles, they gave up 38.

The Vikings have now lost six straight NFC title games to go along with their four Super Bowl losses. The post-season is not kind to the Vikings.

New England, on the other hand, owns the post-season. Brady has a lot to do with that.

He played Sunday with 12 stitches in his right hand, but he eight of 10 for 120 yards and two scores on the Patriots' two key fourth-quarter drives. Danny Amendola caught two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

“We always have confidence. We really do,” Brady said. “It’s never really over until it’s over with this team. I was proud of the way we fought.”

Brady hurt his hand on handoff in a Wednesday practice.

“I thought out of all the plays, my season can’t end on a handoff in practice,” Brady said. “We didn’t come this far to end on a handoff. Never had anything like it. I've had a couple crazy injuries but this was pretty crazy.”

As good as Bortles was early, he couldn't match up to Brady down the stretch. Bortles’ final incompletion left him 5 of 13 for 68 yards in the fourth quarter. Brady was 9 of 14 for 138 yards in the final period.

“We had a two-minute drive to win the AFC Championship, so there’s not a whole lot more you can ask for than that,” Bortles said. “You’ve got to take advantage of that and find a way to win the game.”

That's hard to do against Bill Belichick, who is 5-2 in Super Bowls.

"Tom did a great job, and he's a tough guy," Belichick said. "We all know that, right? But we're not talking about open-heart surgery here."

The Vikings-Eagles figured to be as close. But it wasn't. After falling behind 7-0, Foles was almost flawless.

“In this moment it’s unbelievable," he said. “It’s humbling. Words can't describe what I'm feeling right now.”

Pederson said Foles' performance was nothing new.  "I told him I was so proud of him, the way; he played tonight, the last couple of weeks, the last month. I couldn't be happier for him. I told him I was proud of him. I loved him. All week, he's been calm, he's been confident, he's been energetic. Everything we knew he was."

These two teams played in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonsville in February of 2005.

This time, the Eagles play the Patriots in two weeks in Minnesota at 6:30 p.m.




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