Monday, February 5, 2018

A new champion arises (Super Bowl LII: Eagles 41, Patriots 33)

For once, I'm happy to be wrong.

The Philadelphia Eagles avenged their previous failure vs. the NFL's Evil Empire in the Super Bowl by beating the New England Patriots, 41-33, in one of the most thrilling Super Bowl games. Ever.

For the most part, defenses took a night off. Few penalties were called as the officials decided to let the teams play. Not even a couple of instances of dead air, one being localized, could slow the momentum.

New England won the toss and, as expected, deferred to the second half. The Eagles marched down the field, but could only manage a field goal for an early 3-0 lead. The Patriots came right back, with the same result. Late in the quarter, QB Nick Foles connected with Alshon Jeffrey, one of the Eagles' biggest off-season acquisitions for a touchdown, but the extra point failed, and it was 9-3 after the first quarter.

The Patriots decided to try something different and daring in the second quarter. Operating out of the shotgun formation, Tom Brady set up a reverse, then went out as a receiver. Unfortunately, Danny Amendola's pass slipped through Brady's fingers on 4th down, and the Patriots turned it over. Later in the frame, the Eagles decided to try the same thing, and Trey Burton found Foles for a 1 yard touchdown. Still, Philadelphia only led, 15-12, at the break.

Back came the Patriots. If there was a fault with Philadelphia, it was their zone defense. Brady kept finding open receivers on the left side of the field all game long. The Eagles should've gone to a straight-up man-to-man defense right from the jump. Midway through the fourth quarter, New England finally had the lead, but it would not last. Foles threw one last touchdown to Zach Ertz, which had to survive a replay review. This time, the call went Philadelphia's way. A late field goal forced Brady to have to win the game yet again, but a desperation heave on 4th down to Rob Gronkowski fell incomplete in the end zone.

The halftime show wasn't my cup of tea, since I'm not a Top 40 guy anymore. Justin Timberlake paid homage to Minneapolis music legend Prince in the course of his set, which of course lacked the controversy of 14 years ago, when he had that infamous moment with Janet Jackson.

As for commercials, well, it was the usual theatre of the absurd. One of the sillier spots came from M & M's, which had this gem:

Danny DeVito's desperate for work now that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is over. But he couldn't have been that desperate, could he? Ram Trucks, which blessed us with a classic bit a few years ago utilizing an old Paul Harvey radio commentary, went for the downs again, this time honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. I'll see if I can find that spot online. Procter & Gamble decided to annoy people with a running gag for Tide detergent with actor David Harbour. Pepsi & Frito-Lay joined forces for some shameless silliness featuring Morgan Freeman, Missy Elliott, Peter Dinklage, and Busta Rhymes.

Of course, we could hope that the folks at Bud Light can say good night to that goofy "Dilly Dilly" ad campaign. It peaked when WWE announcer Corey Graves invoked the phrase on Monday Night Raw two weeks ago.

Back to the game. It was the last one for RPI graduate Matt Patricia as a defensive coordinator for the Patriots. Next stop is Detroit, where he takes over as head coach for the fired Jim Caldwell. The Patriots play the NFC North next season. Hmmmmm. Patricia would be better served getting a razor and some shave cream. My brother, who is a Patriots fan (TRAITOR!), poked fun at Patricia, calling him Captain Caveman. I'd like to think he was auditioning for Duck Dynasty as a long lost Robertson brother before that series ended. Problem is, his beard's too short. The closest Al Michaels came to any humor was in a snarky analogy linking Bill Belichick's reluctance to explain why Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler was on special teams and didn't start on defense to East Germany during the Cold War.

In the end, it was a great game, and all the conspiracy theorists were put to bed. For now.

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