Yesterday’s Super Bowl was one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. Probably the best I’ve seen since the Carolina Panthers vs New England Patriots game in 2004. The experts were picking the Patriots because of their experience and the simple fact that the Philadelphia Eagles were lead by Nick Foles, their back-up quarterback. No knock against him, just a fact that he had been the starter in Philly, the traded him to the St. Louis Rams to be the starter and he lost the job there, ended up as a back-up in Kansas City last year and then back with the Eagles. The idea that he would lead an offensive juggernaut to 41 points over the Patriots was hard to fathom.
It was a close game all they way and it felt like the Patriots were just biding time, always in striking distance. But you could feel the momentum shift when Tom Brady failed to catch the reverse pass only to have Foles score a touchdown on almost the same play a little while later. You could point at those two plays as the difference in the game. You could also talk about the strip sack in the fourth quarter. Another big play. But neither of those were the game changer as much as one simple play.
Brandin Cooks caught a first down pass over the middle and tried to extend the play, breaking towards the left sideline but not really looking around. He was hit helmet-to-helmet by the Eagles Malcolm Jenkins. The hit put the wide receiver out of the game with a head injury. No flag was thrown on the play. Only 7 penalties were called in the entire game, 6 on the Eagles. The hit will likely lead to a fine from the NFL. The result of the play was Brady lost his deep threat. Cooks was one of only four wide receivers that the Patriots had active. The others, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Phillip Dorsett tried to pick up the slack, but the are different types of receivers and that is one less person to substitute in. That changed what the Patriots wanted to do on offense.
Both teams played a hell of a game. Foles was brilliant and should be able to roll this into a big money contract with a quarterback desperate team. A franchise gets their first ever Super Bowl win. The two best teams in the NFL met on the field and the Eagle walked away the winner. But that is why football is an amazing game. One play, one hit, one injury, one mistake can completely change the outcome of a game when two teams are evenly matched. They say that any team could be any other team on any given Sunday. I think in this case, the Cooks injury was what pushed the needle a little bit towards the Eagles, but both teams played a great game.