Grayson’s Grades: Super Bowl LII
MINNEAPOLIS - History was made on this bitter cold night as the Philadelphia Eagles hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time. The Eagles knocked off the New England Patriots 41-33. It was one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history as 17 Super Bowl records were set and 12 other Super Bowl records were tied.
Nick Foles passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns while throwing one interception. That effort earned him Super Bowl MVP honors.
Head Coach Doug Pederson took several risks and reaped the big rewards from those decisions. He remained fearless and aggressive and it helped land the Eagles the prize they sought way back in training camp.
The final Grayson's Grades of the season featured a mixed report card:
Doug Pederson - Pederson appeared to outcoach Bill Belichick making some risky calls that paid off. Perhaps one of the most gutsy calls in Super Bowl history occurred just before the half with the Eagles facing a fourth-and-goal from the one. Pederson took a timeout and called a trick play. He had Corey Clement take a direct snap and lateral to Trey Burton who threw an easy pass to Nick Foles wide open in the endzone. It gave the Eagles a 22-12 lead at the half. Pederson once again had a very impressive opening script. The Eagles marched down the field and went 67 yards in 14 plays and settled for a field goal after the drive stalled out at the seven-yard line. He built Nick Foles' confidence early and rode it throughout the game. Pederson handled this team masterfully throughout all the injuries and did a great job seeing them through the long layoff prior to playing this game.
Nick Foles - Foles continued to stay red hot and played extremely well. He passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns while throwing one interception en route to being named Super Bowl MVP. The interception was not his fault as Alshon Jeffery tried to make an amazing catch and wound up batting it into the air where it was picked off. Foles looked comfortable right out of the gate completing six of nine passes for 61 yards on the opening drive that ended with a field goal. He was making completions in very tight windows and doing it for touchdowns. He found Alshon Jeffery on a touchdown in tight coverage. He also hit Corey Clement on an amazing pitch and catch. Foles did an outstanding job helping to sell the defense on a wildcat play to Clement that wound up being a touchdown pass to Foles from Trey Burton.
Corey Clement - Clement did a fantastic job in this game. He led the team with 100 receiving yards and did it on four receptions. Clement's biggest contribution was an amazing catch with a defender draped all over him as he went to the ground in the back of the endzone. Clement has come a long way to become the receiving threat he was in this game. He also carried the ball three times for eight yards. The Philadelphia area native truly lived out a dream by helping to bring a Super Bowl title back to his hometown.
Trey Burton - Burton did not get a lot of opportunities in this game, but took advantage of the big one when he was asked to throw a touchdown pass to Nick Foles. Not only did he do it, but he did it perfectly. Burton took a lateral after a direct snap to Corey Clement and lobbed the touchdown pass to Foles. It was arguably the biggest play of the game as it happened on fourth-and-goal late in the first half and gave the Eagles a 22-12 lead at the half.
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery was brought to Philadelphia to have the kind of impact on the team that he had in this game. He made some difficult catches that forced the Patriots to pay attention to him and devote defenders to do so. Jeffery pulled in a 34-yard touchdown to cap off a three-play drive on their second possession of the game. Jeffery caught three passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Offensive Line - The offensive line did exactly what it had to in order to allow Nick Foles to do what he did. They also opened up some great rushing lanes. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson were spectacular. They paved the way for 164 rush yards and did not allow a sack in the game. They needed to win the battle in the trenches and did that.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor had a solid game which is even more spectacular when you consider the fact that he was given IV fluids after falling ill the day before the Super Bowl. Agholor was elusive and did a nice job moving all over the field. He made a great catch for 18 yards over the middle late in the fourth quarter to help take more time off the clock and eventually lead to an Eagles touchdown. Agholor led the team with nine receptions for 84 yards.
LeGarrette Blount - Blount ran with a purpose and appeared to play with a big chip on his shoulder. He bowled defenders over and got a lot of his yards after contact. Blount rumbled through some would-be tacklers on a 21-yard touchdown run. He finished with 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. That is a powerful 6.4 yards per carry.
Jay Ajayi - Ajayi took advantage of his carries in the game and racked up quite a few of his yards after contact. He carried the ball nine times for 57 yards. That was a very respectable 6.3 yards per carry. Ajayi and Blount were quite the one-two punch for the Eagles. They combined to carry the ball 23 times for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Zach Ertz - Ertz made some big catches in this game including the game-winning score when he pulled in a pass from Nick Foles and took three steps before diving over a defender and into the endzone. The ball bounced off the turf and was recovered by Ertz with the play ruled a touchdown. It was reviewed and eventually upheld as a touchdown. This capped off a consistent and extremely solid year for Ertz. He caught seven passes for 67 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl victory.
Malcolm Jenkins - Jenkins delivered easily the biggest hit of the game and you have to wonder what the long term impact of that hit was. Jenkins leveled Brandin Cooks who had no idea he was coming. It resulted in a head injury that knocked Cooks out of the game. Jenkins went on to drop in coverage and also help in run support. He finished with four tackles and one pass successfully defensed.
Brandon Graham - Graham made easily the biggest defensive play of the game for the Eagles and arguably one of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl. He fought threw a block and ultimately knocked the ball out of Tom Brady's hand right before he went to throw it. The ball bounced into Derek Barnett's hands for a huge turnover late in the fourth quarter. Graham kept trying to get to Brady throughout the game but just could not get there quick enough. He finished with two tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Derek Barnett - Barnett's biggest contribution was to recover the fumble by Brady forced by Graham. It took a lucky bounce and right into his arms before any of the Patriots linemen knew what happened. That play went on to help lock up the Super Bowl victory for the Eagles. Barnett capped off a strong rookie season with that fumble recovery.
Jake Elliott - Elliott capped off his rookie season with another solid performance. It seems he tends to be good for a missed extra point in nearly every game, but then he boots everything else through the uprights. His biggest contribution was a perfect 46-yard field goal in the final minute of the game to extend the Eagles lead to eight points insuring they should not lose the game in regulation. It was a high-pressure kick and he drilled it. Elliott also made field goals from 25 and 42 yards respectively.
Rodney McLeod - McLeod had a mixed night. He made a huge tackle on third and two when Brandin Cooks tried to hurdle him to reach a first down. McLeod stood tall and brought him down short of the sticks. That forced a field goal that was missed. McLeod later was in coverage on Chris Hogan over the middle and got turned around just long enough for Tom Brady to take advantage and hit Hogan for a touchdown. McLeod finished with six tackles and one pass successfully defensed.
Corey Graham - Graham struggled with Gronkowski on the opening drive of the second half. Gronk beat him several times and ultimately caught four passes for 68 yards and a touchdown on that drive. Graham finished second on the team with eight tackles.
Jalen Mills - Mills had a mixed performance. I think he was the victim of a bad holding penalty called against him that denied the Eagles a third-down stop. He did a good job of batting a pass away from Gronkowski on the Patriots opening drive of the game resulting in a field goal. However, he got beat on a double-move by Hogan for a gain of 43 yards late in the first half. Double-moves have plagued Mills throughout most of the year. Discipline on those will be something he has to develop in the offseason. Mills led the team with nine tackles and two passes successfully defensed.
Jim Schwartz - I am a Schwartz fan; however, giving up more than 600 total yards is not exactly a good thing for a Defensive Coordinator. Credit the Patriots with having a solid game plan. Schwartz clearly tried to switch a few things up, but it did not make much of a difference. Ultimately his unit allowed Brady to pass for 505 yards and three touchdowns. While pressure on Brady was hard to come by, credit Schwartz for having the right play called that led to Brandon Graham's strip-sack. While his front four did not get to Brady for more than one sack, they did get hits on him. They racked up nine hits on Brady. This defense was solid throughout most of the year and Schwartz deserves a ton of credit for that. Ultimately, they held on just enough to secure a Super Bowl title.