When Tom Brady and the New England Patriots beat Donovan McNabb and the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 39 (I’m done with Roman Numerals, by the way, we’re in the 50s now, enough already), it was a bitter pill to swallow.
After three straight seasons of falling short in the NFC Championship Game, Andy Reid’s squad finally got past that seemingly insurmountable hurdle and had to face a Spygate Pats team that ultimately outlasted the Birds 24-21, their third Super Bowl title in four years.
Thirteen years is a long time to wait for payback but, in Super Bowl 52, the Eagles and their fans got theirs.
Brady was awesome in both games, but Super Bowl 52 was, to that point, his best-ever performance in the Big Game.
His passer rating in last year’s 31-9 win over Kansas City was better (125.8 to 115.4) but he threw for 505 yards against the Eagles compared to 201 yards in Super Bowl 55, so I’m giving the nod to Super Bowl 52.
Unfortunately for Tom, Matt Patricia’s defense had no idea how to stop Doug Pederson, Nick Foles, and the greatest single-game performance by any Eagles offense in franchise history on that Sunday. Still, New England may have found a way to pull that game out had it not been for two now-legendary Brady miscues.
Two plays that will likely haunt him for the rest of his days. You hate to see it.
Tom Dropped It, Nick Caught It
It all happened in slow motion and, every time I rewatch it, I think he’s going to catch the ball.
With 12:04 left in the 2nd quarter and the Eagles holding a 9-3 lead, Brady has the ball on the Eagles’ 35-yard-line. It’s 3rd-and-5. From the shotgun, Brady takes the snap and begins what looks like the beginning of a reverse. However, instead of blocking for wide receiver Danny Amendola on the reverse, Brady sprints down the field as a receiver.
Eagles’ defensive end Chris Long had the responsibility to stay with Brady, but he got sucked into the play and was caught in no-man’s land, between Amendola and Brady. Tom was all alone at the Eagles’ 25-yard line with perhaps no one to stop him from scoring a TD. They at least would have had the 1st down. But somehow, Brady alligator-arms the pass and it ticks right off the ends of his fingertips for a devastating incompletion.
Tom was not pleased with himself.
Perhaps the best part of the exchange (which you don’t see unless you watched NFL Films’ Mic’d Up version of the Super Bowl, is Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins slapping Brady hard on the rear end after the play and yelling, “COME ON, TOM!!!”
Brady didn’t even acknowledge the slap or the slight. It was that embarrassing.
The whole thing was made worse when, a few minutes later, his counterpart, Foles, did what Brady could not do, haul in a pass for a TD. This, of course, the famed Philly Special.
Brady came into the game with a bad hand, injured during their AFC Championship Game victory of the Jaguars two weeks prior, but it’s still a pass he likely sees over and over again in his nightmares. One likes to think it wakes him up in a cold sweat. After the drop, the Patriots went for it on 4th down but a pass fell incomplete to Rob Gronkowski and the Eagles took over on downs.
Following that drive, the Eagles would go up 15-3. It was a turn of events that wiped away a New England scoring drive and set the Birds up with good field position for another score.
STRIP HIM! STRIP HIM!
There are a couple contenders for Greatest Play in Eagles History.
Zach Ertz’ TD catch with a little more than two minutes left in Super Bowl 52 that put the Eagles ahead for good, the Philly Special that shocked the world, and even the 4th and 1 play on the Eagles’ penultimate drive that kept things alive.
Brandon Graham’s strips sack and forced fumble of Brady with 2:16 left in the game is certainly near the top of the list and, I suspect for most Eagles fans, the greatest play in team history.
There’s no need to rehash this one to death. It’s part of our team’s folk lore now. We can just let the pictures tell the story.
This was undoubtedly the play that clinched the Super Bowl for the Birds. Brady had scored a touchdown on all three second half possessions and made it look easy each time, and even though the Eagles had a five-point lead, no one felt secure. But on the second play of that drive, Graham finally got to Brady and made the magic happen.
The Eagles kicked a field goal, went up by eight points, then watched as Brady’s Hail Mary pass fell to the ground, temporarily preventing Tom from winning a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
Two plays: one extremely embarrassing but perhaps not as crucial to game script, the other a strip sack that was the nail in the coffin. Make no mistake, outside of these two plays, Brady was flawless. It was his best-ever performance in the Super Bowl. And you can’t gloss over his win in Super Bowl 39 over the Birds, nor his 7-2 career record against them. More often than not, Brady owned the Eagles.
But now that his career his over, one would think it is this game, and these two plays, perhaps as much as his devastating loss in Super Bowl 42 to the Giants that ended the dream of a perfect season, that will haunt him the most in his post-NFL career.
Which play from Super Bowl 52 haunts Tom Brady more?
This poll is closed
Graham Strip Sack