Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East – 15-3) vs. New England Patriots (AFC East – 15-3) Sunday, February 4, 2018 | 6:30 PM ET | U.S. Bank Stadium | Referee: Gene Steratore
SERIES HISTORY (INCL. PLAYOFFS):
LEADER: Eagles lead all-time series, 7-6 STREAKS: Patriots have won 4 of past 5 LAST GAME: 12/6/15: Eagles 35 at Patriots 28 LAST GAME AT SITE: First meeting in Minnesota
PLAYOFF SERIES HISTORY:
LEADER: Patriots lead all-time series, 1-0 STREAKS: Patriots won only meeting LAST PLAYOFF: 2/6/05: Patriots 24, Eagles 21 (SB XXXIX) LAST PLAYOFF AT SITE: First meeting in Minnesota
- The Philadelphia Eagles trounced the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7, in the NFC Championship Game, advancing to the third Super Bowl in franchise history (lost to Raiders in Super Bowl XV and to Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX). The 31-point victory over the Vikings was the Eagles’ largest in any postseason game all-time.
- The New England Patriots rallied from 10 points down to score a 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game, advancing to an NFL-record 10th Super Bowl. With a win on Sunday, the Pats will tie the Steelers for the most Super Bowl victories all-time (6).
- Including last year’s Super Bowl versus the Falcons, the Patriots have been behind by at least seven points in each of their last three postseason contests, and have come back to emerge victorious in all three games.
- This game is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX won by the Patriots, 24-21, at ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville. L.J. Smith opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown catch from Donovan McNabb in the second quarter, but New England outscored Philadelphia 24-14 in the last 16-plus minutes of the game, earning Bill Belichick his third NFL title as Patriots’ head coach.
- The last two teams to win the Super Bowl with a different starting QB in Week 1 than in the Super Bowl were the 2001 Patriots (Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady) and 2016 Patriots (Jimmy Garoppolo/Tom Brady). The Eagles will attempt to do the same on Sunday (Carson Wentz/Nick Foles).
- The Patriots have failed to score a single first-quarter point in seven Super Bowls with Tom Brady at quarterback (outscored 15-0). Philadelphia has outscored its opponents 113-58 (+55) in the first quarter this year — the best point differential in the NFL (including postseason).
- In the fourth quarter/overtime of his last two Super Bowls, Tom Brady has completed 81.0 percent of his passes for 370 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, a 127.2 passer rating and a game-winning drive for the Patriots in each game. In each of the Patriots’ five Super Bowl wins to date, Brady led the team on a drive that culminated with the decisive points being scored in the fourth quarter or OT.
- Nick Foles has 24 combined regular and postseason victories as an NFL starting quarterback (24-18 record). Tom Brady has an NFL-record 27 career postseason wins (27-9 record).
- Zach Ertz (74 for 824 yards) and Rob Gronkowski (69 for 1084 yards) both led their teams in receptions and receiving yards during the 2017 regular season. This will be the first Super Bowl matchup all-time in which both clubs’ leading receivers during the regular season were tight ends.
- Tom Brady has 15 career touchdown passes in his seven previous Super Bowls, while all other active NFL quarterbacks have combined for 20 touchdown passes in the Super Bowl. At 40 years and 185 days old on Sunday, Brady will be the oldest non-kicker/punter to ever participate in the Super Bowl.
PLAYOFF RECORD 21-21
LAST WEEK W 38-7 vs. Minnesota
VS. COMMON OPP. 5-1 (Atl 1-0; Car 1-0; Den 1-0; KC
0-1; LAC 1-0, Oak 1-0)
PTS. FOR/AGAINST 28.6 (T2L)/18.4 (4L)
PASSING Nick Foles: 57-101-537-5-2-79.5
RUSHING LeGarrette Blount: 173-766-4.4-2
RECEIVING Zach Ertz (TE): 74-824-11.1-8
SACKS Brandon Graham: 9.5
INTs Patrick Robinson: 4
TAKE/GIVE +11 (31/20)
PR Kenjon Barner: 8.9
KR Kenjon Barner: 19.4
PUNTING (NET) Donnie Jones: 45.3 (40.6)
KICKING Jake Elliott (R): 117 (39/42 PAT; 26/31 FG)
EAGLES advanced to 3rd Super Bowl in franchise history (1980 & 2004). Team also played in 4 NFL Championships & is seeking 1st championship since 1960. • PHILADELPHIA is 3rd team to head to Super Bowl on scoring run of 38+ points. • DOUG PEDERSON is 2-0 as head coach in postseason career. • EAGLES had 6 players selected to 2018 Pro Bowl: G BRANDON BROOKS (1st), DT FLETCHER COX (3rd), TE ZACH ERTZ (1st), S MALCOLM JENKINS (2nd), T LANE JOHNSON (1st) & QB CARSON WENTZ (1st).
- QB NICK FOLES completed 26 of 33 (78.8 pct.) for 352 yards with 3 TDs & 0 INTs for 141.4 rating in NFC Champ Game. Is only QB in NFL history to have 100+ rating in each of 1st 3 career postseason starts (min. 20 att/game). In 2017 postseason, is 2-0 with 122.1 rating. Foles is 4th QB in SB era to win 2 postseason games after making 3 or fewer starts in regular season. • RB LE GARRETTE BLOUNT has rush TD in both playoff games this season. Has 10 career rush TDs in postseason (incl. 8 with NE), most among active players. RB JAY AJAYI has led club in rushing yards & scrimmage yards in both 2017 playoff games. Averaging 98.5 scrimmage yards per game in postseason. • WR ALSHON JEFFERY had 2 TD catches in NFC Champ Game, incl. 53-yard TD. WR TORREY SMITH had 41-yard rec. TD & TE ZACH ERTZ had 8 catches for 93 yards vs. Min. Foles became 1st QB in NFL history with 40+ yard completion to 3 different players in single playoff game: Jeffery (53 yards), WR NELSON AGHOLOR (42) & Smith (41). • S MALCOLM JENKINS had 99-yard INT-TD in last game vs. NE (12/6/15). CB PATRICK ROBINSON had 50-yard INT-TD in NFC Champ Game. DE BRANDON GRAHAM led team with career-high 9.5 sacks. Rookie DE DEREK BARNETT had sack & FF vs. Min. Since entering league in 2012, DT FLETCHER COX is 1 of 7 NFL DTs with 45+ TFL (45) & 30+ sacks (34). DE CHRIS LONG had FR in NFC Champ Game. Long & RB Blount were both members of NE’s Super Bowl LI winning team.
PLAYOFF RECORD 34-19
LAST WEEK W 24-20 vs. Jacksonville
VS. COMMON OPP. 4-2 (Atl 1-0; Car 0-1; Den 1-0; KC
0-1; LAC 1-0, Oak 1-0)
PTS. FOR/AGAINST 28.6 (T2L)/18.5 (5L)
OFFENSE 394.2 (1L)
PASSING Tom Brady: 385-581-4577 (1L)-32 (3L)-8-102.8 (3L)
RUSHING Dion Lewis: 180-896-5.0-6
RECEIVING Rob Gronkowski (TE): 69-1084-15.7-8
SACKS Trey Flowers: 6.5
INTs Duron Harmon: 4
TAKE/GIVE +6 (18/12)
PR Danny Amendola: 8.6
KR Dion Lewis: 24.8
PUNTING (NET) Ryan Allen: 43.4 (40.5)
KICKING Stephen Gostkowski: 156 (2L) (45/47 PAT; 37/40 FG)
PATRIOTS advanced to NFL-record 10th Super Bowl. Team is looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions for 2nd time in franchise history (XXXVIII & XXXIX). • NEW ENGLAND has won 5 Super Bowls & can tie Pittsburgh (6) for most in NFL history. • BILL BELICHICK has 28 career playoff victories, most by head coach in NFL history. • PATRIOTS had 6 players selected to 2018 Pro Bowl: QB TOM BRADY (13th), FB JAMES DEVELIN (1st), TE ROB GRONKOWSKI (5th), S DEVIN MC COURTY (4th), ST MATTHEW SLATER (7th) & T NATE SOLDER (1st).
QB TOM BRADY is all-time Super Bowl leader in pass yards (2,071), comp. (207), att. (309) & TD passes (15). Set Super Bowl record with 466 pass yards in Super Bowl LI. Is making NFL-record 8th career Super Bowl start & is only starting QB in league history to win 5 Super Bowls. Has won 4 Super Bowl MVP awards (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX & LI), most in NFL history. Is postseason leader in career att. (1,416), comp. (892), pass yards (9,721) & pass TDs (68). Is 27-9 (.750) as starter in postseason, most wins by QB in league annals. Led NFL with 4,577 pass yards & ranked 1st in AFC with 32 TD passes, both most by QB at age 40 or older. • RB DION LEWIS led team with career-high 896 rush yards. Has 207 scrimmage yards (103.5 per game) in past 2 postseason games. Has 573 scrimmage yards (114.6 per game) with 5 TDs (3 rush, 2 rec.) in past 5 (incl. playoffs). RB JAMES WHITE has 6 TDs (4 rush, 2 rec.) in past 3 postseason games. Since 2016 playoffs, leads NFL with 7 TDs (4 rush, 3 rec.) & 44 points in postseason play. Tied Super Bowl record with 3 TDs (2 rush, 1 rec.) last year. • TE ROB GRONKOWSKI has 10 career TD catches in postseason, most among TEs in league annals & tied for 3rd most in NFL history. Has 856 career rec. yards in playoffs, most by TE in NFL history. Has 7 TD catches in his past 7 postseason games. WR DANNY AMENDOLA has 274 rec. yards (91.3 per game) & 3 TD catches in past 3 playoff games. Had 2 TD catches in 4th Q of AFC Champ Game. • LB KYLE VAN NOY had 9 tackles, sack & FF in AFC Champ Game. LB JAMES HARRISON has 11 career sacks in postseason, tied for 5th most in NFL history.
Neither New England nor Philadelphia is a tropical paradise, so for the Patriots and Eagles, the Minnesota winter weather has been pretty normal for them. That’s a good thing as both teams head into their Super Bowl LII meeting on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium trying to treat it like just another 60-minute game.
After the media circus they endured Monday in St. Paul, the players for both the Patriots (15-3) and the Eagles (15-3) welcomed the opportunity to get back to some semblance of normal game week preparation and to focus on the football, even if it’s in a new place.
“Today’s a real day. We’ve got to go out and practice and kind of get away from the madness,” said Philadelphia defensive end Fletcher Cox on Wednesday after the Eagles practiced at the University of Minnesota. “I just treat it as a regular game week. Things I would do at the facility, I’m doing here. I’m not doing anything different outside of what I would do if I was in Philly.”
One thing the Eagles did successfully at home and on the road all season was pressure the opponent’s quarterback, and when the Patriots have faltered in two Super Bowl losses to the Giants in the past decade, a relentless pass rush has contributed. But the highly touted Eagles defense, which did not allow a point after the Vikings’ opening drive of the NFC title game, is wary about putting too much of their attention on Patriots star Tom Brady.
“It’s Tom plus 10 guys on the field. We can’t just focus on one guy, if we’re going to be real about it,” Cox said. “I think we have to focus on their whole offense, because they’ve got a lot of great players. We have to go out and be ourselves. We’ve got to go out and do the little things right and not beat ourselves in order to be victorious.”
Which of those great players will be in uniform for New England is still a question mark, especially in regard to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the second half of the AFC title game win over Jacksonville due to a concussion. He participated in the Patriots’ Wednesday practice at the Vikings team facility, but wore a red “no contact” jersey. New England coach Bill Belichick said Gronkowski is “working his way back” and they are hopeful he will be on the field ready to play on Sunday.
Gronkowski was one of four Patriots to have limited participation in practice on Wednesday, while Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan did not practice due to illness.
“Rob’s a tough guy. Obviously, this isn’t something you can just fight through,” said Brady, who wore only some black tape on his injured right hand at Wednesday’s practice. “I think everyone’s being really smart and cautious about it, as we should be based on all the information we’ve learned over the years. He’s got to clear everything before he gets out there and plays, but we’re hopeful and we’ll see how it goes.”
While the Patriots offense has revolved around Brady since their first Super Bowl win in 2002, the defense has been one of constant evolution, and the unit adopted yet another new look late in the regular season when linebacker James Harrison came on board after he was jettisoned by the Steelers.
“When you’re in a system for as long as he’s been, there are a lot of things that are habits that get ingrained, which they should be. Some of those things carry over. Some of them kind of don’t,” Belichick said of Harrison, who has played 178 of his 193 NFL regular-season games for Pittsburgh. “He’s done a great job of trying to separate them and do what we’ve asked him to do.”
While the Eagles will be looking for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title, having lost the big game after the 1980 and 2004 seasons, there may be more pressure on the Patriots, who will be seeking their sixth title and their second in a row, knowing that the coaching staff will look significantly different next season. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are both widely expected to be head coaches in Indianapolis and Detroit, respectively, next season.
“I realize and I understand and I appreciate the talent in the coaches in our building. I’m grateful for the opportunity to even be coached by them,” said Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, sounding very much like he was saying goodbye. “Whatever their opportunities are in the future, I’ll be excited for them.”
There’s one more opportunity for them on Sunday. And it sounds plenty exciting.