Dallas Cowboys fans, give it up.
The Philadelphia Eagles are no longer the butt of the old, tired joke. The Eagles are no longer the red-headed, championship-deprived stepchild of the NFC East
They are ringless no more.
And it didn’t take a cold day in hell, but rather the coldest day in Super Bowl history. It was minus-1 degree at kickoff with a minus-20 wind chill for fans heading into a warm and covered U.S. Bank Stadium where they witnessed one of the most thrilling games in history.
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This underdog Eagles team, led by backup quarterback Nick Foles, previously unwanted in Dallas and fueled by the brilliant and the gusty play-calling of coach Doug Pederson, outplayed and outdueled the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII.
“We have been wanting this for a long time,” said Foles, an Austin Westlake graduate who was named the Super Bowl MVP and joined Drew Brees as the only Texas high school quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl. “I am just blessed to be a part of it. We have such a great group of guys, such a great city to play for and I am proud to be a Philadelphia Eagle.”
Foles, who took over the starting job in Week 14 when leading MVP-candidate Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury, passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns. He matched the greatness of NFL MVP and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady drive-for-drive and throw-for-throw.
The Eagles had to survive a Hail Mary attempt from Brady to Rob Gronkowski on the final play of the game.
But that was a final desperation for Brady, who passed for a Super Bowl-record 505 yards and three touchdowns, in hopes of extending the greatest dynasty in NFL history.
Brady had already rallied the Patriots from deficits of 15-3, 22-12 and 29-19 before finally taking the lead at 33-32 only to see Foles and the Eagles go up again on an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz. They then capitalized on a Brady sack and fumble with a 46-yard field goal for the deciding points.
“We have been doubted since Day One,” Ertz said. “We owe to God first and foremost. This team, no one picked us. We are world champions. First time in Philadelphia history. The city earned this win.”
Brady and the Patriots were denied in their attempt to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers with a sixth Super Bowl. They remain tied with the Cowboys at five.
Maybe, that will be of some solace to the Cowboys and their fans, who shuddered to think of the Patriots passing them.
But the idea of the Eagles winning their first with a quarterback the Cowboys didn’t want and ironically on a play that brings back bitter memories likely hurts worst.
What a year for the NFL, which battled protests and declining ratings, only to get one of the greatest games in history. The teams combined for a Super Bowl-record 1,151 yards.
There was only one punt, missed extra points, one botched field goal and two failed 2-point conversions.
But fittingly, the game was ultimately decided by the controversial catch rule, aka the infamous Dez Bryant rule, named after the Cowboys receiver following his controversial overturned catch in a 2014 divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Back then, Bryant caught a pass and switched hands with the ball. He took two steps and reached for the end zone. The ball popped out after he hit the ground and he caught it again. It was ruled a catch on the field, then reversed on replay.
On Sunday, with the Eagles trailing 33-32, Foles capped a 75-yard touchdown drive with the aforementioned 11-yard pass to Ertz, except the play wasn’t simple.
It was third-and-7 at the Patriots 11 with 2:25 remaining in the game. A field goal would not be enough to stave off another Brady comeback.
Heck, he led the Patriots back from double-digit deficits in their past two Super Bowl victories, including a rally from 28-3 last year.
So Brady hit Ertz on a crossing route. He took three steps, jumped over a defender and dove across the goal line. The ball hit the ground and bounced up.
If the Bryant rule is the guide, then it should have been overturned.
But NFL official Gene Steratore said Ertz possessed the ball, became a runner and broke the plane of the goal line.
Steratore, the man who gave the Cowboys a first down with an index card earlier this year in Oakland, sent one back in the face of the Cowboys.
Yes, Ertz caught it, but Dez caught it too.
“I had no doubt,” Ertz said. “If they would have overturned that, I don’t know what would have happened in the city of Philadelphia. Man, what an experience. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
As much this situation is difficult for the Cowboys and their fans to take, consider that this might only be the beginning for the Eagles.
Wentz will be back next year. So will Foles.
Ringless might turn into two rings.