By Danny Cox
There were so many people who thought that the New England Patriots had this one in the bag before it even started. After all, they were facing a Philadelphia Eagles team with a backup quarterback. Rumor had it that Tom Brady was not nervous at all—even though it was the Super Bowl, he was heading into things with a calm head and a good gameplan.
Unfortunately, Nick Foles and the Eagles, went out and scored 41 points in a game of virtually nothing but offense. Super Bowl LII belonged to Philly as the Patriots came up just short at the very end.
It is really hard to look at the stat sheet for the Patriots and believe that they walked out of Super Bowl LII as the losers of the game. Tom Brady put up a postseason-record 505 yards passing and three touchdowns on 28-of-48 passing. He had an absolutely incredible game, but that very late fumble on the team's second-to-final drive ended up costing the Patriots the game in the long run.
Danny Amendola led the receiving corps with 152 yards on eight receptions, but he was only one of three players in triple digits. Chris Hogan had 128 yards and one touchdown while Rob Gronkowski finished with 116 yards and two touchdowns. It simply wasn't enough as the Eagles were able to use the strength of their defense to close things out.
Both defenses gave up a lot of yards and a lot of points, but this was just an incredibly off night for the Patriots defense—and at the worst possible time. Early in the season, the defense appeared to be the weak link of this great team, but they quickly got their act together and became an incredibly strong unit that led to a lot of wins and a great run.
Unfortunately, it's going to be hard for even the best offense to come back and win when the defense gives up 41 points and 538 total yards. The lone highlight of the night came from Duron Harmon, who snagged a bouncing interception out of the air to give momentum back to the Patriots.
It was a great season and there is a lot of promise ahead, but this was just not their night.
Special Teams: C-
Ryan Allen didn't attempt a single punt and there was not a single punt return attempted by the Patriots. Dion Lewis had one decent kickoff return, but that reverse before the final drive was an odd play call and one that pinned them back deep to start things out.
Stephen Gostkowski had an off night as well, as he missed an early field goal attempt and one of his four extra-point tries. Things just didn't seem to work out in the kicking game either, as the holds were bobbled or muffed and it upset Gostkowski's timing on more than one attempt.
Bill Belichick said after the game that they didn't play defense well enough and that the kicking game simply didn't play well enough. It may have been Brady's fumble that gave the Eagles the ball back late, but he could not have done any more than he did. The Patriots appeared to have things going well at times, but the defense was just off and some of the trick plays were called at the strangest of times.
Up Next: Now it's about looking ahead, trying to get back to the next championship game and doing it all again, but with a different outcome once all is said and done. There is really nothing to fault about this season as things went about as well for the New England Patriots without being perfect as they possibly could have. After this loss in the Super Bowl, it's time for a little bit of rest before getting back to work and plugging the limited amount of holes.
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