MINNEAPOLIS — A game never comes down to a single play. Unless it does.
Super Bowl LII did.
With the Patriots trailing by eight points and in need of a touchdown and a two-point conversion to send a second straight Super Bowl into overtime, Tom Brady chucked a deep pass down the middle of the field and into the end zone. A half-dozen players from both teams were there to meet it, including typical Patriots magic-makers Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. But the Eagles were able to bat the ball to the turf to preserve the win as time expired.
“The ball rattled around a couple of times,” Amendola said. “I lost it. I don’t even know if it hit the ground. I saw it and didn’t come up with it.”
Amendola actually wound up with the ball, but he caught it on a bounce. Cornerback Patrick Robinson was the last Eagles player to touch it and knock it to the ground.
“It was like a heart attack,” Eagles defensive end Chris Long said of watching the ball hang in the air for those final moments. “It was bad for our collective health. But I’ll never forget that as long as I live.”
The Eagles allowed a Super Bowl-record 505 passing yards and 613 total yards but were able to pinch when it was needed most. “For us, it was all about one stop we had to make,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “We went out there and made that one stop. We knew we were going against the best. How much sweeter is it that we beat the best today? I’m just glad I was able to be a part of it.”
The game ended in a fashion similar to the way the Patriots’ most recent two Super Bowl losses had ended. In Super Bowl XLII against the Giants, Brady launched several desperation heaves in the final moments before turning it over on downs for Eli Manning to take a triumphant knee. In Super Bowl XLVI against the Giants, the game ended on a Hail Mary attempt, too. That one almost was caught by Gronkowski.
“It stinks to be on this side for sure,” he said. “Whenever you have the chance, you want to go down and make the drive in the final two minutes of the game. But it just didn’t happen this time. Good opportunities. We just couldn’t take advantage of them.”