Anyone out there feeling sorry for the New England Patriots?
When you are the king of the mountain and then get knocked off, sympathy is hard to find anywhere. Patriots haters are dancing in the streets, and even neutral fans are delighted to see someone else win – especially if it’s an underdog like the Philadelphia Eagles, who survived this classic thriller with a 41-33 finish.
On a day of celebration in the championship-starved City of Brotherly Love, the Patriots are bemoaning a lost opportunity to reaffirm their dominance. They can take solace in the fact that they’ve won five Super Bowls and might be back again next year, but outside of their own spoiled fan base, no one is bummed.
Another potential heroic comeback ended when Tom Brady got strip-sacked late in his record-breaking post-season passing run of 505 yards. They can’t pull it off every time, and would be a lot better trying to play from ahead for a change.
The so-called power struggle that rocked the team over the last month of the season will flare up in New England after curmudgeon coach Bill Belichick benched Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler for no apparent reason. Cornerback Butler is not the fastest or the best tackler, but he is certainly better than some of the unknown secondary guys who let the Eagles move up and down the field at will in Minnesota.
The resounding take-away from the game was the Eagles’ tremendous performance from back-up quarterback Nick Foles who just about matched Brady’s numbers and made the big play at the end that not only won the game, but clinched the MVP Trophy that Brady would have won a fifth time. Philly has never been Super Bowl champs, and its team was better on this day.
Ironically, two key plays of the game were reverse passes TO the quarterbacks. The Patriots’ trick maneuver was slightly overthrown to a wide-open Brady that killed their drive. The Eagles came back with their magnificent deception to an all-alone Foles on fourth-and-one late in the second quarter for a TD.
It put the favorites and villains in a hole they climbed out of, but fell back into due to their worst defensive effort since the first four weeks of the season when opponents were shredding them. Now their coordinators are leaving and even Gronk says he might retire. So the dynasty indeed could be dead, and no one down the mountain is crying over that prospect either.