Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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There's a serious need for defensive help in Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Oakland. In Denver, meanwhile, the Broncos must determine whether or not Case Keenum can really be a long-term solution at quarterback.

05 Feb 2018

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl LII

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Browns fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Philadelphia Eagles 41 over New England Patriots 33

Aaron Schatz: Eagles march down the field fairly easily on the first drive, but the Patriots stiffen in the red zone -- what else is new? -- helped by a false start penalty. 3-0, Eagles. The good sign for the Eagles is that the blocking was really good on the whole drive. The bad sign for the Eagles is that Nick Foles has been off on a couple of passes. Third-and-12 conversion was behind Torrey Smith, great catch. Third down in the end zone that led to the field goal was off. Feel like the Eagles play designs here are better than the quarterback.

Bryan Knowles: Apparently, any play fake counts as a run-pass option today. So says Al Michaels.

It will be interesting to see how Malcolm Butler is used today. He didn't start, with Eric Rowe getting the nod instead. Rowe was the closest defender in coverage on each of the third-down conversions, so that may not be a thing for much longer. Have the Pats used Rowe in the big nickel package for most of the year? It would make sense if they went to that a lot as a way of shutting Zach Ertz down, but swapping Butler for Rowe feels like a downgrade.

Carl Yedor: On the third-and-long to Smith, it looked like the defensive back would have been in position to break up the pass if Foles had led the receiver. Still a great catch by Smith. The New England bend-but-don't-break defense shows up again.

Dave Bernreuther: That false start penalty was a great example of a drive killer, and an entirely preventable one. Procedural penalties are pretty inexcusable when you're not the road team, and the difference between second-and-short and second-and-8 is huge. And we saw it in the play calls after, both of which appeared to be of the quarterback-hiding variety: single-read rollouts with instructions to get rid of it rather than throw into a tight window.

With how this Pats defense plays, a touchdown from the 2-yard line was still no sure thing, but backing the Eagles up after that Ertz penalty could very well have cost them four points. Not optimal against these Patriots at all.

Aaron Schatz: This much Rowe is very new. All year long, it was Butler and Stephon Gilmore starting, and then Jonathan Jones was the nickel most of the year, but he got injured, and was replaced by Rowe.

Derrik Klassen: New England marching down the field felt like a significantly more sustainable approach than Philadelphia's. Nick Foles was often under pressure and inaccurate on the first drive, but the Eagles were able to find some yards after catch and make tough catches. Tom Brady and the Patriots looked as smooth as ever, spreading the ball around to everyone with ease. Both offenses were stifled inside the red zone, but I suspect New England will be able to build on their success, while Philadelphia will stumble some.

(Eagles immediately drive 77 yards in three plays for a touchdown.)

I was so wrong, so fast. Yikes.

Aaron Schatz: Foles looked a lot better on the second drive ... on the couple of throws that actually were there. Beautiful throw on the Alshon Jeffery deep touchdown.

Bryan Knowles: Who needs long, methodical drives when you've got the bomb!

Eric Rowe in coverage again, though I think it'd be a bit of a stretch to call it bad coverage -- Jeffery made a heck of a catch.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm not a hundred percent certain that ball placement was by design, but yeah, it ended up in a place where only Jeffery could make the play on the ball, and that wasn't on Rowe at all.

Missed extra points never come back to haunt teams in playoff games. Ever. Just ask New England.

Andrew Potter: I genuinely thought Stephon Gilmore would be the matchup for Alshon Jeffery. I can't believe the Patriots let him get singled up downfield against Rowe.

Scott Kacsmar: Good first quarter. Only penalties were a false start on each team. Eagles left five points out there with mistakes, but they look competent so far. Should be a track meet where situational football decides things. Agree with notion that offense seems to be coming easier for the Patriots so far.

Andrew Potter: Rodney McLeod has made the two biggest plays of the game for the Eagles defense thus far: the tackle on Rob Gronkowski on New England's opening drive that was a guaranteed touchdown if he didn't stick the impact, and now staying upright to stop Brandin Cooks on a third-and-2 sweep. One missed field goal later, Eagles have the ball back up six.

Vince Verhei: Tremendous catch by Jeffery on the touchdown. I wasn't impressed by Foles' throw -- I thought it was underthrown and Jeffery just made a tremendous catch outjumping Rowe for the score.

Then Rodney McLeod powerbombs Brandin Cooks for a third-down stop, and Gostkowski misses the field goal after a bad snap. Pair that with Philadelphia's missed extra point and the false start at the goal line, that's a lot of mistakes in scoring range by both teams already.


Bryan Knowles: That spinebuster on third-and-2 must have been a tribute to the Minnesota Wrecking Crew; Arn Anderson would be proud.

And now both teams have exchanged misfires from close range in the kicking game. I'll admit, I did not see that coming.

Andrew Potter: I'm horrified that a player with Brandin Cooks' speed, one-on-one with a safety in the open field, thought that hurdling was the correct play.

And now Cooks is knocked into next week by Malcolm Jenkins on a play where Cooks again should have headed directly upfield instead of dancing around. It will stun me if Cooks returns to the game.

Nothing remotely illegal about that hit, incidentally. He was established as a runner, and just didn't see Jenkins coming.

Carl Yedor: Agree with Andy that I can't see Cooks coming back in. Those are the kinds of plays that make football dangerous. Jenkins is flying at him full speed and can't adjust his trajectory to react to Cooks changing direction. Hope Cooks is OK.

Bryan Knowles: Cooks has been officially ruled out, as you would expect.

Ahhhhhh, we had a reverse pass option, Brady gets wide open ... and the throw's a tad too long. Don't quit your respective day jobs.

(I love the call, because they were going for it on fourth anyway, so why not try to break something huge?)

Andrew Potter: Turns out, it is actually possible to overestimate Tom Brady's deep speed.

Vince Verhei: I was very confused by the Patriots' trick play on third down -- until they went for it on the ensuing fourth down. Obviously they knew they would go for it if the trick play failed. That said, Brady was open for a big play and Danny Amendola missed him -- add it to the list of missed opportunities.

Derrik Klassen: Alshon Jeffery is finding every way to make Nick Foles work.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots gonna go crazy with the screens. 47 yards by Rex Burkhead on a screen, but then on a third down, the Eagles pass rush was so intense that they knocked James White off his swing route and Brady had to throw the ball into a big empty space.

Vince Verhei: Oh, wow, wow, wow. Jeffery almost cinches up the MVP award in the first half, but he can't quite hang on to the one-handed grab, and it turns into an interception instead. This game is just two teams taking turns dodging bullets.

Aaron Schatz: Eagles backs are doing a great job picking up the blitz, but Nick Foles just launched a deep pass a bit high and Alshon Jeffery tipped it up into the hands of Duron Harmon. That's the Patriots' first takeaway in five games.

Bryan Knowles: First turnover of the game, and it's an odd one. If Jeffery had given up on the play, it's an incomplete pass -- I hate it when great effort leads to bad results.

James White, rumblin', bumblin', stumblin', and the Patriots capitalize on the turnover. You have to feel that any mistake against New England gets exploited.

...And we have another short kick miss! Stephen Gostkowksi misses his second of the day. What a weird freaking game.

Vince Verhei: Uh, you don't capitalize on a turnover on a 90-yard drive. Give the offense 100 percent credit for that one.

Bryan Knowles: Oh, by no means do I mean to take anything away from the offense. Just that it seems, subjectively, like Patriots turnovers never lead to a three-and-out.

Vince Verhei: Hey, a swing pass to a running back (Corey Clement) for Philadelphia's biggest play of the first half. If only someone had predicted New England would be vulnerable to that.

Bryan Knowles: Trey Burton, college quarterback. Direct snap, handoff to Burton, pass to Foles, touchdown. On fourth-and-goal, with seconds left in the half. Doug Pederson, I think I love you.

Dave Bernreuther: Doug Pederson just called an end-around pass from the backup tight end to the quarterback. On fourth down. In the Super Bowl.

That's amazing.

That said, I'll go ahead and say that was an illegal formation. Nelson Agholor was more than a full yard off the line of scrimmage on right end, if you ask me...

Aaron Schatz: Yes, Matt Chatham points out here, it was an illegal formation.

No conspiracy against the Pats. No conspiracy to favor the Pats. Sometimes refs just miss stuff.

Derrik Klassen: Doug Pederson going for that fourth down is what it takes to beat New England. Too often coaches cower against Bill Belichick (and Nick Saban, like in the national championship), but you have to be aggressive. That first half of offense was as good as Philadelphia could have hoped, and better than I imagined they would sustain.

Vince Verhei: That was the most insanely great touchdown I've ever seen for like a dozen reasons. I saw the direct snap coming but figured it would be to set up the dive they should have run on third-and-1. Doug Pederson is one hell of a football coach.

Also, important: getting that touchdown instead of taking the field goal pretty much makes up for all the scoring-range missteps they had earlier in the game.

Aaron Schatz: It's always hard to see specific coverage on television, but whatever the Eagles are doing to cover Gronkowski, it's working wonderfully. 22-12 at halftime.


Vince Verhei: What a bizarre but fantastically entertaining first half of football. If you had told me the Patriots would average 9.7 yards per play in the first half, I would have been sure they would be way ahead -- but they're 2-of-7 on third/fourth down, they're completing less than half their passes, and they're down by 10 at halftime.

Andrew Potter: I don't think I've ever seen Gronkowski so ... well, timid. He's lost a couple of possible receptions at the catch point, contested receptions he would usually make. A fortnight removed from a concussion, it makes one wonder.

(I am not suggesting impropriety from the Patriots, incidentally; just that the effect of a concussion does not go away the moment the player passes the examinations.)

Bryan Knowles: So. What do the Pats do in the second half to get back in this? It's only a 10-point deficit and they start with the ball, so if anything, they're doing better than they were last year.

I'm honestly not sure they have to do anything differently -- just execute what they currently are doing a little cleaner. As Vince pointed out, they're averaging 9.7 yards per play, so they're not exactly sputtering out there. I wouldn't mind seeing more no-huddle out of them, though -- really wear out that Philly defensive line and keep them from rotating.

Rivers McCown: Halftime thoughts:

  • The two quarterback passes made me think of this Ian Boyd piece on the concept of "total football" coming to college. Might this be the start of even deeper hybrid concepts?
  • Damn are these two teams well-coached. I must admit I was lukewarm on the Doug Pederson hire after his offense played zero catch-up against the Pats a few playoffs ago. But wow has he done a great job this year. I think we're going to enter into a segment of NFL history where coaching matters more than ever.
  • The Pats aren't getting their running backs involved in the passing game at all. That's what worries me more than anything about their offense in comeback mode. The Rex Burkhead catch was nice. They need more.
  • Brandin Cooks has a concussion. Concussion. Not head injury. Concussion. Say it, NFL partners.

Scott Kacsmar: We never spend a sentence talking about a quarterback's ability to catch the ball, and we somehow have a Super Bowl where one quarterback caught a touchdown on fourth down and the other dropped a third-down pass. Hard to find a game where both offenses are over 320 yards at halftime, and a 22-12 score is also super unique. Just a really fun half of football and I can't wait to see how it plays out. Eagles obviously can't get too confident after what the Patriots did last year, and they are getting chunk plays like crazy tonight, but definitely have to feel good about their performance so far. Foles looks pretty dialed in and the running game has hit some big ones too. As long as Pederson continues to bring it like this, good chance for the Eagles to capture that Lombardi.

Aaron Schatz: I wonder if the Cooks injury in a Super Bowl will bring more discussion of the idea that when you make a hit that causes a concussion, the defensive player has to miss the same amount of time as the injured offensive player.

Of course, sometimes it's the ground. You can't suspend the ground.

Andrew Potter: I could get behind that for a foul, but not for a legal hit.

Vince Verhei: There was nothing remotely punishable about the Cooks hit. Cooks had the ball and was (sorta) looking for running room and a defender tackled him. The only way to remove concussions on hits like that is to just go to two-hand touch or flag football.

Scott Kacsmar: I checked the ESPN database and this is the first NFL game since at least 2001 where both offenses had 320-plus yards at halftime. Only the third game period in that time where both offenses had even 300 yards at halftime. This is quite the track meet.

Bryan Knowles: I think it's safe to say, whatever Philadelphia was doing to take away Gronk in the first half? Yeah, the Patriots have adjusted.

Vince Verhei: Kind-of amazing. He gets wide open on the first play of the second half and Brady flat-out misses him -- then he catches four passes for 68 yards and a touchdown on the rest of the drive.

Tom Gower: Philadelphia's defense didn't really do much of a job of stopping the Patriots in the first half, except in the red zone. The Patriots scored a touchdown, had three field goal attempts, and failed on fourth down inside the 40 after a wide-open player failed to catch a pass on third down. Brady missed a couple throws and has looked falling back under the pressure of the front on some others, but that wasn't a sterling defensive performance. Sure, most of it wasn't Gronk, and the Patriots showed the first drive of the second half they could use him more often. But that was just a couple plays. The real story was on the other side of the ball, when Philadelphia had the one drive that was actually stopped but scored three actual touchdowns while Foles and Jeffery played well and Pederson had some great designing against a defense that you can beat player-for-player.

Aaron Schatz: OK, I'll buy some reason for playing Eric Rowe ahead of Malcolm Butler. But what on earth is going on with Johnson Bademosi playing ahead of Malcolm Butler?

Bryan Knowles: Butler had an illness this week, so I would think that maybe it was worse than advertised, and he's there only for emergencies ... but I'm fairly sure he's been playing special teams, so that's out.

Dave Bernreuther: Any time anyone uses the "Brady has never had weapons" argument, show them that drive.

Aaron Schatz: Nobody sane has made that argument since 2006.

Dave Bernreuther: My apologies; too much reading Scott's Twitter...

Bryan Knowles: More from Illegal FormationGate. Jeffery clearly checked with the line judge before the play, who gave him the OK beforehand. It wasn't a missed call so much as it was the ref confirming that it was legal before the play started. I'm not sure how the rule is written, but I think calling a penalty on that after the official had already cleared it would have been a wee bit controversial.

Aaron Schatz: I really thought that Foles' receivers were saving him on the first drive, but since then he's been fantastic.

Vince Verhei: Foles really has been outstanding for most of this game.

(Corey Clement catches a 22-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles. The play is reviewed, and the call stands.)

Bryan Knowles: Thank God that catch stood. If they had overturned it, Philadelphia might have rioted. I wouldn't blame them!

Andrew Potter: The way the rule has been called this season, it should not have stood, but I'm too tired of these controversies to care that much.

Bryan Knowles: If either defense would like to arrive to Super Bowl LII, that would be more than welcome.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots march right back down the field easily, touchdown Chris Hogan, 29-26. Do we just send the punters home at this point?

Andrew Potter: I would hope so, because both teams need to be of the mindset that every possession is four downs all the way until somebody proves they can make a stop.

Rivers McCown: How in the hell did the Eagles score just 15 on the Falcons?

Andrew Potter: Doug Pederson, unexpectedly, blinks first after a loss on third down, and kicks the field goal to go up by six. The Patriots respond with a touchdown drive to take their first lead of the night. Four-down territory all the way, guys.

Tom Gower: It was fourth-and-11. I get the field goal. The problem was losing 8 yards on third down.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not going to fault Pederson for kicking a field goal on fourth-and-11. That's an awful lot.

Remember when we thought the Eagles would be able to pressure the Patriots with just their front four? That's not happening. Brady has all day to throw. I feel like Foles is making more difficult throws than Brady is; Brady seems to have time and totally open guys, Foles is dropping dimes and sometimes under pressure. No sacks in this game so far from either defense.

Bryan Knowles: There have been 1,025 yards in this game so far, after that Gronk touchdown. That means this game has the 41st most yards in NFL history. We still have nine minutes and change left in the game.

Gronk and Brady have now caught Montana and Rice for most touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver duo in Super Bowl history.

You basically have to talk about this game in superlatives, because it has been a wild one.

Andrew Potter: Safe to say that Gronkowski's second half has been anything but timid. He has taken over on a bunch of plays in the second half, and turned the Patriots offense back into the machine to which we're accustomed.

With eight minutes left, we get back into metastrategy: if you're the Eagles here, are you trying to score quickly or take your time? You want to score, of course, as your first priority, but you don't want to give New England the ball with the chance to drive for the win -- unless you think you will also have time to match.

The Gostkowski field goal miss, incidentally, could be critical: it's the difference between a field goal and a touchdown to take the lead for the Eagles.

Bryan Knowles: Love Doug Pederson going for it on fourth-and-1 with six minutes and change left. Punting isn't going to win this game, and even if you fail and the Pats score again, you'd still be down just eight in the worst-case scenario. Drain the clock, score late.

Vince Verhei: Way too early to think about the clock. It is exactly the right time, though, to talk about going for it on fourth-and-1 in your own territory, down by one point late in the game. Conventional wisdom says you punt. Most of us would say go for it. But Brady and the New England offense have been so dominant, even Cris Collinsworth said they had to go for it there. And they did, and converted the first down on the completion to Ertz.

Bryan Knowles: The Patriots need 29 yards on this drive to break the all-time record for most yards in one NFL game, which has stood since 1950. Again, this is the Super Bowl.

Aaron Schatz: The first sack of the game just ended the game.

Vince Verhei: I'm seeing a lot of debate that on his go-ahead touchdown, Ertz should have gone down at the 1 and the Eagles should have run out the clock and kicked a field goal. Would that have worked? 2:20 to go, with the two-minute warning and one timeout left, Patriots still would have had time to drive for a field goal, right?

It's irrelevant now, with the first sack of the game leading to a fumble and Eagles ball. Actually, not irrelevant -- the clock is critical now, but the equation has definitely changed.

Bryan Knowles: First sack of the game. Fumble. Eagles ball. Wow. The Pats could get the ball back with a stop, but that might well be the dagger.

Andrew Potter: I am not a fan of going down at the 1 while trailing. Stuff can go wrong, and the kicking in this game hasn't exactly been clinical. Tie game is a different story.

The Patriots have not punted once, and are going to lose this game. That is just incredible.

Bryan Knowles: Let's not speak too soon -- Pats get the third-down stop, and they're going to get the ball back.

The decision to go for two each time was right, but the misses loom large now.

Vince Verhei: Hated, hated, hated the decision to run on third down there. A first down wins the game. A run and a field goal does not.

Bryan Knowles: Alright, show of hands -- who thought for sure Gronk was going to catch that Hail Mary? I certainly did.

Most yards in a game in NFL history. The Pats gained 613 yards, never punted ... and lost. Wow.

Vince Verhei: That was one of the very best games I've ever seen Tom Brady play. Unreal that wasn't enough to win. If I was a Lions fan, I'd be really uncomfortable about my new head coach turning Nick Foles into a Super Bowl MVP.

Aaron Schatz: Congratulations to all the Eagles fans. I know how much this means to them. This is the equivalent of the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004 more than it is the equivalent of any recent Super Bowl title by the Patriots or anyone else. The entire city lives and breathes with Eagles football and has been waiting for this for longer than the Super Bowl has actually existed.

The only member of the Patriots defense who can still hold his head high after that performance was Stephon Gilmore, who shut down Alshon Jeffery for most of the game after the Pats put him on Jeffery exclusively. Otherwise... ugh. So little pass rush.

Oh, and if we're going to have the "best Super Bowl argument," again, I'm partial to Super Bowl XLIII (Steelers-Cardinals). Unlike this game it had both offense and defense. Or Super Bowl XLIX.

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, this wasn't the best Super Bowl ever, because that requires all three phases of the game to be on point, and neither the defense nor special teams made much of an appearance in this one. But I'd argue it was better than last year's game, because it was tense the whole way through. LI feels a lot better in retrospect, because we know now the Patriots came back -- but it felt dead at 28-3. This was exciting, baffling, amazing, a bunch of other superlatives all the way through.

Andrew Potter: Doug Pederson has had an incredible year, and is a deserving champion. He has been aggressive in the right spots, overcome adversity with creativity, and he and Frank Reich called a fantastic game tonight.

For the Patriots, concerns about the defense proved very well-founded. 41 points allowed in any game is unacceptable, but in the Super Bowl against an Eagles team missing its starting quarterback, that might have been the worst I have ever seen a Patriots defense play. Even in those early weeks, they would at least get a couple of sacks and force a handful of punts. Here, they barely ever looked like they could stop anything the Eagles wanted to run.

Derrik Klassen: I recall some people trolling FO for DVOA having New England's defense so low. As it turns out, that defense gave up 40-plus and squandered a good offensive performance.

Of course, credit to Doug Pederson and the Eagles offense. I did not expect Nick Foles to play well throughout the whole game, but he did, and what he provided on top of a monstrous run game was all Philadelphia needed for the win.

The way the game progressed was not exactly predictable, but the demise of New England at the hand of their own defense was not surprising.

On another note: My word, what a game -- start to finish.

Tom Gower: Yeah, I see the argument in favor of Steelers-Cardinals, and made it last year (which was like Titans-Rams in that large chunks of it weren't exciting). But this one was back and forth. There weren't many good defensive plays aside from the strip sack, no, but there were a number of huge potential inflection points that can reasonably be said to have affected how the game went. The touchdown right before half, the missed kicks, the two-point conversion. There was a lot that's going to get overshadowed by the fact that both teams kept moving the ball and scoring points. But we only know that now, at the end of the game. These teams could have figured something out. We know now that they didn't, really, but that doesn't change how I experienced the game. And, while we didn't get the same huge plays at the very end of the game, like Pittsburgh-Arizona, we got multiple lead changes in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia's drive just took a long time.

Vince Verhei: New England allowed 41 points to a team missing its starting quarterback AND starting left tackle AND starting kicker AND third-down back.

I can only imagine the trade offers for Foles are going to come flooding in soon. He'll be 29 next year, which is older than I would have thought, but hardly old for a quarterback. And his ceiling is obviously higher than any other veteran who would be available -- it's now one great year and one great postseason on his resume. But there will be time to discuss that later.

All in all, much better than last year's game and one of the very best ever. I get the no-defense argument -- I said the same thing about that famous Green Bay-Arizona wild card game -- but there were still enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, that's for sure. Best ever? I don't know if I'd say that, but if someone else did, I wouldn't argue with them.

Tom Gower: Yeah, I probably pushed the "best ever" argument harder and quicker than I normally like to. But after some epic games, I feel the need to go away and process things for a while. Maybe because I wasn't as into some of the micro details or maybe for other reasons, I don't really feel that same way tonight. The macro-level issue for me remained Philly's offensive success against New England's defense. They had played better, but they were the 31st-ranked defense for a reason. They needed to win schematically and/or have the Eagles screw up. We've seen a lot of Nick Foles play and he was quite capable of screwing up, which is why I thought New England would win. But Philly won schematically and Foles played fantastic, as well or better than you could reasonably expect from him. Doug Pederson coached intelligently aggressively, something the past two Patriots playoffs games showed was definitely not a given even in the postseason, and the Eagles scored and kept scoring. Eventually, they got the one really big defensive play and that proved to be enough because they had kept scoring.

Rivers McCown: This was by far the best Big 12 Super Bowl.

So there was a lot of great coaching in this game. But. But! ... I'd be a little concerned to be a Lions fan after this performance from the Patriots defense.

Aaron Schatz: Games since 1978 where a team lost despite never punting:

Carl Yedor: I'll be interested to see if Pederson's aggression (e.g., aggressive call on fourth-and-short in his own territory in the fourth quarter) combined with the Browns hiring John Dorsey and Scot McCloughan results in the general populace beginning to label the Eagles as the "analytics" team instead of Cleveland. Foles made some huge plays down the field when it mattered. Wildly entertaining for fans of offensive football and aggressive play calling (fans of defense, not so much).

Cleveland is on the clock.

Scott Kacsmar: Thought I might get to bed at a decent time, but that game left a hell of a lot to take in. Yards upon yards devoured all night long. Incredible job by the Eagles to never blink even when the Patriots kept answering. A true shootout.

Dave Bernreuther: I'll disagree with Vince a bit here by saying that despite the raw totals, I don't think that was one of Brady's best games ever, or even this year. I thought he was better two weeks ago against the Jaguars, and that their offensive success tonight was a near masterpiece of play design and game-planning, just one that wasn't rewarded.

That sounds like anti-Brady bias, which makes it a hard position to defend against anyone who assumes that, but I say that because despite the fact that we can't point to too many blatant failures in coverage or execution by Philly's defense, the Pats spent the whole game with clean pockets and receivers running mostly wide open. Even the inaccurate throws were often completed for first downs. I'm not sitting here trying to pretend Brady didn't execute extremely well, just that the ease with which their offense operated was much more indicative of a top-to-bottom brilliantly played and coached game.

And the exact same thing is true on the other side too. We as fans can only hope that Doug Pederson's game plan and play calling and analytic conclusions and just plain big balls will be noticed by other teams and other owners, because hot damn. That game had all the excitement of a Big XII game (as someone else mentioned) but without the crappy play or athletic mismatches of the college game; it was mostly well played all around, even on defense, which is an awfully strange thing to say after one team gave up 41 and the other failed to force a punt. But it was masterfully game-planned and called from start to finish by both teams, and Rivers is right to note/hope that this could be the start of a newer trend of smarter coaching. (Meanwhile, the analytics-led team in Cleveland... kept Hue Jackson. Sigh.)

Man, what a game. It really did have everything. It was exciting from the very first drive to the last. There was brilliant coaching on both sides and there were amazing plays on both sides. There were heroic efforts, but no real goats. (Aside: Did Butler ever get on the field? For all the worry some had about the Eagles being hurt by the flu, could it be that its greatest impact was on New England?) Even at whatever outlandish $2,000-plus cost there was per ticket, those fans got their money's worth.

Not bad for a game featuring the NFC team most of us were least likely to expect to give the mighty Patriots a game. Hell of a way to wrap up a weird-as-hell 2017 season.

Benjy Rose: Question I can't get out of my head: was first-half Gronk a Belichick rope-a-dope?

Bryan Knowles: Dave, Butler got on the field quite a bit ... on special teams. He played no defensive snaps.

Dave Bernreuther: That's really, really strange. Especially since even when Patrick Chung briefly went out, he still didn't go in.

I had no idea he played special teams (obvious joke: sans punts, I had no idea there was special teams in this game), but that feels a lot like someone pissed off the coach and needed to be knocked down a peg or two. But it was the Super Bowl! I do wonder if there's more to that story than "we do what gives us the best chance to win."

I realized I didn't continue with my coaching praise in my last email: apparently I'm a bit of a contrarian here, but I'm excited for the Josh McDaniels era in Indianapolis. I know he was a bit arrogant in Denver, but this a coach who is one of only a few of the non-stubborn types willing to change the game plan from week to week -- whether it's 50 passes or 75 percent runs; full Bruce Arians mad bomber or all wide receiver bubble screen short dumpoff or West Coast-y; or between-the-tackles running, entirely based on the opponent -- who can scheme castoff receivers wide open at or near the line of scrimmage; who can make great play calls in the most pressure-filled moments ... all about to be teamed up with a quarterback with more physical talent than Brady, a diabolical mind, and health permitting another decade or more of football in him. The possibilities are endless. Maybe it'll still go poorly. Or be unlucky. But the sky is the limit for Andrew Luck and McDaniels. Colts fans should be ecstatic.

Mike Tanier: FLY EAGLES FLY 

(Mike is a Football Outsiders alumnus who now writes for Bleacher Report. He has been through so many high and low points in Philadelphia sports history that he once wrote a book on the subject. We are very happy for Mike, as we all for all Philadelphia fans on their team's win. Congratulations!)

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 05 Feb 2018

260 comments, Last at 08 Feb 2018, 10:46am by Pat


by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:12am

If Luck fully recovers (sigh) it'll be nice to see him paired with a coach who came up in a system where making the qb comfortable in the pocket was a fundamental tenet, to a degree that may only have been matched one or two other times since 1978.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:55am

Unless McDaniels is bringing old-man Scarnecchia along (his son is less capable), it won't end well. Indy has no talent on the offensive line, and Luck is from the Roethlisberger-Rodgers school, not the Brady-Manning school.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:43am

1 year turnarounds on an offensive line can happen, if it is really prioritized by people who know what they are doing, and are committed to doing it. Grigson isn't there any longer, so there is a chance. As a fan of Luck, I'm hoping.

by turbohappy :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:15am

I completely disagree. I think there is way more talent on that line than there was on a bunch of the Moore-coached lines. I think a lot of it is on coaching.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:57am

He's bringing DeGugs, they're saying.

I think far too much is made of the OL needs in Indianapolis. They're nowhere near as bad as everyone claims; they've been playing in front of two QBs that are just always going to take hits. McDaniels' offense is going to be designed to get the ball out quicker and that alone will make a difference in Luck's hit count, regardless of who plays on and coaches the O line.

by jonsilver :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 4:47am

Vince: "Hated, hated, hated the decision to run on third down there. A first down wins the game. A run and a field goal does not." Couldn't agree more. I think that was Pederson's only significant play-calling mistake of the night.

Vince: "If I was a Lions fan, I'd be really uncomfortable about my new head coach turning Nick Foles into a Super Bowl MVP."
Rivers: "I'd be a little concerned to be a Lions fan after this performance from the Patriots defense."
Yet another season of Lions fan dread awaits...I'm beginning to think I should have chosen another team to root for back in 1957...

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:45am

We all know the Lions are where head coaching careers go to die (sometimes where head coaches go to literally die...I don’t remember the name of that new coaching hire in the 70’s who dropped dead while mowing his lawn before the season even started). Patricia was just getting an early start. Hey, at least he apparently has the wisdom to keep Jim Bob.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:48am

Don McCafferty - led the Colts to SB V win, went 6-7-1 in 1973 with the Lions, died in summer 1974. (Trivia note: he played OL at Ohio State, but WR for a season with the Giants. Never played OL in the pros.)

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:56am

Ah, I didn't realize he already had a season with Detroit under his belt. Still, the Lions making a good head coach hiring, only to have that coach die of a massive heart attack in his own backyard is the most Lions thing ever.

by Chuckc :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:49am

I disagree on the run call. The pass should have come on 2nd down just before the 2 minute warning. The clock would have stopped no matter what happened.

by ddoubleday :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:57am

Good point. I liked the run call on the 3rd and short because the Eagles have been very good at converting those via run, and doing so didn't risk leaving Brady more time and potentially a timeout.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:07pm

Totally. The clock stops anyways, Foles was looking really good, and those little passes in the middle had been open all night. Considering how aggressive Pederson had been calling plays in the first half, I'm surprised he didn't just go for the dagger right then and there. I'd have run on third down without a question to force them to burn a TO, but, on second, I'd have thrown a short pass just to try to end it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:58am

The pass call would have been second down with 2:03 left. I get the run call; they'd gashed NE all night on runs to the center and right. You don't want to overthink things sometimes and game yourself into a dumb result ("The Haley").

As for Patricia, somehow the Lions have managed to botch Patriots Elimination Day. Only Detroit. Maybe they can switch in Zach Galifianakis without anyone noticing.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:48am

Yes, it was the most important game, but let's not overreact to one bad game. Patricia has multiple seasons to be judged on, and this Eagles offense is the same one that smoked an excellent Vikings defense two weeks ago.

by jonsilver :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 5:03am

Maybe a quick hitter is defensible in that situation...but the run call was a slow-developing one that started well behind the LOS, and it produced enough of a loss to make it impossible to consider going for it on 4th down...

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:03pm

Huh? The play that started with 2:03 on the clock was a three-yard gain by Blount, and it was on second down.

by jonsilver :: Wed, 02/07/2018 - 12:04am

I was responding to the second sentence of Comment #40 (that sentence was about the third down play, even though the first sentence wasn't) and I'm referring to the third down play in my response...

by DoubleB :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:36pm

You're not bringing Patricia in for his defense. You're bringing him in because he can hopefully spearhead an organizational change in the entire football operation and make it more like New England.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:19pm

Belichick the GM and Belichick's ego had as much (if not more) to do with turning Foles into a SB MVP as Patricia did.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 4:47am

I'll say again that when a defense's most athletically impressive performer may well have been a player 90 days short of his 40th birthday, who was cut by a playoff team in December, then, no, the defense's coach is not the major issue. Patricia no more "made" Foles MVP than Zimmer did two weeks ago. Foles just played great, behind outstanding blocking, and helped by excellent receiving.

by RickD :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:18am

Well James Harrison is probably going to the Hall of Fame. And yes, it's a problem with the coaching if the best performer is somebody his age.

The Pats' defense is capable of playing much better than they did in this game. I don't know what the coaches were thinking or what happened in the practices, but in play after play, Eagles' receivers were open in 2 seconds or less. This is the same defense that was able to beat the Steelers and the Saints. The very same players have been playing better for months. And yesterday they were just flat bad.

How is that not a coaching problem?

I'm willing to give the Eagles O-line credit for their job blocking. And yes there are personnel issues in the Pats' front 7, esp. with Hightower out.

FWIW, I wouldn't say Harrison was the Pats' best defensive player. I'd say that was probably Gilmore.

And really, I don't see how we can talk about this game without talking about the decision to bench Malcolm Butler, and that was certainly a coaching decision. One that backfired.

Whose fault is it when Jordan Richards gives up a 55-yard reception on a wheel route? Is it Richards' fault, or the coaches that put him in that position? This may not be clear from the outside looking in, but Patriots fans have zero confidence in Jordan Richards, and that he got more snaps on defense than Butler remains baffling.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:22am

Er, I didn't say the coaching was perfect. I said that lack of talent is a bigger problem on that defense. I'll stick with that assertion.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:14am

Richards gave up that pass the first play after Chung left the game. It was predictable. My kids asked me who was coming in for Chung, and I told them "A guy named Jordan Richards, and he's about to get beat for a big gain by the tight end."

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:01am

This is the same defense that was able to beat the Steelers and the Saints.

It's also the same defense that got carved up by Kansas City, whom Philadelphia's offense resembles. New England doesn't do well against optiony teams run by journeyman QBs coached by Andy Reid.

by Cythammer :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:04am

Will be interesting to see what DVOA thinks of that game. The Patriots averaged more per play and had more total yardage, so I wouldn't be surprised if DVOA gives them a higher rating. Problem for the Patriots is that, unlike the Eagles, they had a lot of yards that did not contribute to scoring drives. 188 combined on the drive that ended on fourth down in the first half and the two drives to end the halves. Meanwhile basically every yard the Eagles gained was during a drive that resulted in points.

Pretty crazy that the team that actually came the closest to derailing the Eagles' title run was a middling Falcons team playing on one less week of rest. I do think Philadelphia got lucky in only having to face just one of the NFC's (probably the whole NFL's actually) best three teams (Saints, Vikings, Rams), though of course the one member of that list they did play didn't pose them much problem.

On the subject of Foles, his play the last two weeks is a great reminder of the variability of QB play, how important being the right situation can be, and how hard it is to accurately predict future QB performance. Keenum also demonstrated that this year. Heavily investing in Foles based on just two games sounds questionable though, especially since only one was against a genuinely excellent defense.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 7:28am

I'm fine if the rest of the league wants to leave Philly with the best backup QB in the league.

I saw on ESPN that Aaron suggested Files was only worth a third in trade. Eff that. If you saw his last two games and thought he was only worth a third in trade, I want Philly to keep him around and give Carson a few more weeks to ease back in.

by Jerry :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:17am

Hey, Pat. I just want to toss in congratulations to you and other veteran FO-posting Eagles fans.

by MC2 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:22am

I don't see why people insist on pretending that 2013 didn't happen. It did. Sure, there were some aspects of it that were somewhat fluky, but that's true of just about every great season. The fact is that Foles has had one very good regular season and one very good postseason run, and a lot of guys have gotten huge deals based on far less than that. Yet, for some reason, people still act like Foles has the resume of Blaine Gabbert. I just don't get it.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:26am

Agree. I'd also make the point that coaching makes a big difference, and Foles godawful stint in St. Louis might possibly have as much to do with Jeff Fisher's incompetence as anything else.

by serutan :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:05pm

And Goff's godawful stint last year, and Keenum's poor stint followed
by the Rams winning the NFC west and the Keenum helping the Vikings to the NFCCG...

Naaah, just coincidence.
Was wr

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:32pm

He's like the Anti-Reid!

by RickD :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:06am

" I recall some people trolling FO for DVOA having New England's defense so low. "

The verb you are looking for is criticizing.

And it would be intellectually dishonest to say that the defense tonight was at the same level it's been since mid-October. Clearly this was their worst performance since the Carolina game. Having a bad game tonight doesn't validate mis-measurement for three months, does it?

Can we have discussions about statistical issues that aren't so obviously flawed?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:14am

And it would be intellectually dishonest to say that the defense tonight was at the same level it's been since mid-October.

Are we sure?

Philadelphia's offense is better than most of the teams New England played since Carolina. The Chargers hadn't turned the corner yet and Pittsburgh generated a ton of offense in a loss. They really only shut down Atlanta (but so did Philly).

New England's defensive recovery came at the expense of some putrid offenses, who also roundly lost the field position battle. Philly actually won in this game -- they had 3 drives in plus-25 territory to 1 for New England, and started with net-60 better field position. That exacerbated New England's defensive collapse -- Philly didn't have to always drive as far as usual. They scored 16 points on their three plus drives to New England's zero. Convert two of those to the usual FGs, and it's a tie game.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:41am

There were clearly troll-level criticisms of some of FO's analysis of NE's defense, and the Super Bowl really just totally proved them wrong. The right side of the Patriots collapsed under some runs. Swing passes to running backs proved huge. (And Smart Football elsewhere pointed out that the Patriots were seriously having trouble with runs out of 11-formation, and the Eagles attacked that, too).

Oh, and guess what? Those first 4 games that the criticizers said "these games aren't predictive! They fixed all those mistakes!" The Eagles coaches literally said they saw, *in the Carolina game*, problems that the Patriots were having - and how they simplified coverage after that. And then they abused those simplifications. So you're again talking about how the Eagles coaches saw what the Patriots defense couldn't do in that Carolina game and what they were doing to paper over it, and attacked it.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:53am

Yep, simplified coverage, and little pass rush, and against an accurate passer, is a reliable way to get a 40 burger served up. Patricia and Belichik didn't make that decision to simplify because they wanted to start catching the early bird dinner special at their favorite Boston area buffet restaurant.

It's also not a shocker that this became more apparent outside of Foxboro

by DoubleB :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:43pm

And other than maybe the Steelers this is the best offense they've faced since Carolina. 6 games against the AFC East can mask a lot of issues.

One thing that has helped New England the last two years is just how god-awful the AFC has become lately.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:33am

Adjusted for the quality and depth of the defensive front, this was one of the best performances ever by the Pats o-line, a unit which has racked up a lot of great performances over the past 17 years. Shame it'll be largely forgotten, but then again this has been an overlooked bunch in that span, if that can be said about any unit on a team which has appeared in 8 Super Bowls, and 12 conference championships.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 7:22am

That game was a perfect metaphor for an offensive line: no one remembers your 100 individual wins, but one bad failure you'll be remembered for forever.

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 7:04am

Awesome game. Thrilled Eagles decision making at the end was rewarded

Took all game but Eagle d line made a huge play.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 7:07am

Foles' ceiling is obviously higher than Bradford's?

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 7:19am

Well, yeah, since Foles's injury record is cleaner. Foles has actually made it through a season.

Plus Foles's Minnesota game was kind of ridiculous.

by MC2 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:27am

I don't know about his ceiling, but his floor is definitely higher than that of the perpetually injured Bradford. However, I would argue that Cousins has both a higher ceiling and a higher floor than either of those two.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 7:16am

I don't get the "no pressure on Brady" comments. In the first half, he frequently had no space to step up, and got rid of the ball earlier than he would've liked. There's a reason a lot of his throws were errant early.

In the second half, it looked like they doubled Cox more, which cut off that pressure. Until it didn't.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:49am

Oh, there was pressure in the first half, even if it was not devastating or super consistent. The Eagles have great pass rushers and depth, after all. It then mostly disappeared, and I was pretty convinced that we were going to see what we have so often seen, a tired defense sliced up at the end of the game. A defense usually doesn't reacquire a pass rush deep in the 4th, after already giving up 500 yards.

Then the Eagles had a 7 minute td drive on their ninth possession. That was critical, giving the Eagles pass rushers a blow, I think. That allowed the critical play rather more likely, it seems to me.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:13am

Yes I'd have to rewatch but it appeared to me as though there was pressure being applied in the first half, but Brady's superior pocket movement and recognition was frequently allowing him just enough time to take advantage of coverage mismatches, and often completely blown coverages. On the play that Cooks got injured he was so open he appeared confused and didn't know which way to run, until he was blindsided. And there was the 50 yarder to Amendola which he stopped and ran back to catch and still there was nobody around him. I suppose you aren't going to find too many 500 yard passing games against good pass coverage, but boy was it bad at times.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:16am

Like in the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game?

That's the most prolific passing game against good coverage I've ever seen.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:16am

I said it during the game, and I stand by it - it looked like the Eagles D line wore down the Pats O-Line, flipping the usual narrative. There was a ton of scheming against the rush, and the Pats have an excellent line, but the Eagles were relentless, and finally got there.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:47am

Depth and a good opportunity to get some rest in the 4th quarter did wonders, I think.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:56am

Nah, NE just made one mistake, which Brady compounded by trying to do too much and not dumping it immediately to a wide open White.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:24am

Doubling Cox repeatedly was a gamble, though - *eventually* Graham/Long/Curry would beat single blocking, and Graham eventually did. In the first half they were playing more all-around sound blocking, but the problem was that Cox is just better than the interior Patriots offensive line.

So I'm not sure I'd say it was just "one" mistake. They gambled a ton on blocking in the second half. Came damn close to working out for the Patriots, though. Brady's just insanely good at pocket presence and coverage recognition, and Belichick's just a nutso good play caller, too.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:32pm

Brady did have 20 incompletions and ended up completing "only" 58% of his passes, albeit for ridiculous yardage. It was almost as if the Eagles defense was alternating between some decent pressure/coverage and none whatsoever, from one play to the next. I agree with the comment that Foles had to make tougher throws than Brady on the whole, but at the same time the Eagles defense did just enough to win the "bend but don't break" competition, barely (4 TDs allowed to the Patriots' 5 to be precise).

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:42pm

It was almost as if the Eagles defense was alternating between some decent pressure/coverage and none whatsoever, from one play to the next.

I don't think there was any "almost" about it.

Brady stuck a few into good coverage, mostly to Gronk. Where he had success was hanging in the pocket long enough for the Eagles coverage to lose somebody and then hit the wide-open guy in some manner. Absent that, throw it away.

The difference between Brady and Keenum was Brady's line held up better, and he didn't throw into double-coverage after misidentifying where the breakdown was.

by billsfan :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:43am

Quick handoffs, double fakes, and passes to the QB are all things you do when you're deliberately trying to scheme around a superior pass rush. On many passes, pocket collapse seemed imminent when the ball was thrown. It was clearly their game plan to go up-tempo, and you saw it with the early 12-men call.

Again, anecdotally, because I was watching the game with a beer, not a stopwatch.

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:00am

Eagles special teams were better tonight. NE missed the FG. Kickoffs were handled well. Philly was clearly ready for the attempted slight of hand at the end on the last kickoff.

TD drives for NE: 90 yards, 75 yards, 75 yards, 75 yards. No short fields. NE offense still moved the ball obviously but Eagles didn't make it easy.

by Yu Narukami :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:02am

My hot takes:

- Even with a record-setting yards output you feel like the Pats Offense was not perfect in several situation (atrocious 3th-4th down combination, bad awareness from TB in the last drive of 1H, too long developing plays in the final minute where you could have get chunk outside to force Eagles opened up the middle for the big desperation shot). Having said so, with that performance they usually won 99 out of 100 time.

- Special Teams were also a let-down. No mortar kick was effective, missed XP+FG, tricky return that was shut down immediately).

- Defense was terrible, with some considerations:

1) This year's unit was below the standard, but the talent level in the front7 was subpar also. Hightower and the rookie edge rusher are on IR, then you have a bunch of no-names racked up in free agency or small-level trades.

2) Not having Butler on field was huge. What the hell happened? He was on the field for a ST play, where he never played all year long. If he was ill, then he should'nt even dress, where you could have Alan Branch on the 46-men roster for line depth.

3) Gilmore was finally pretty pretty good down the stretch.

- Can we shut down pats conspiracy discussion once and for all? The Foles reception was from an illegal formation, the Clement TD would have been overturned in other random situations. Sh*t happens, crews mess up, home-field more usually than not can lead to pressure them to throw flags. It is like that in every pro sports.


Let's see if this was end-of-an-era. Gronk is mulling retirement (or is it a contract move?), Brady is entering 41, the 3 coordinators might all leave. As I wrote yesterday in the open discussion thread... Even I was not that charged for the event!

Congrats Philly, btw.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:18am

the 3 coordinators might all leave.

Losing Patricia might be addition by subtraction.

by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:02am

Gronk is mulling retirement (or is it a contract move?)

It's a contract move.

by DoubleB :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:50pm

The WR got clearance from the referee that he was on the line of scrimmage. And in fact his foot is aligned with the OTs foot to his side.

This isn't even controversial. This happens every snap in the NFL. WRs check their alignment with the side judge and those officials give a lot of leeway in their alignments.

In the college game, they tend to call this more closely

by big10freak :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:03am

Wonder if NFL might want to just drop calling offensive and defensive holding/PI as penalties. Or leave them on the books but give directive to just let guys play. The refs as a group do such an uneven job of calling such penalties would it really give any team a serious advantage? The only time anyone griped about penalties was one penalty being called against team A but similar not being called against team B in the same game.

by Sakic :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:03pm

I thought I heard on a broadcast a couple of weeks ago that the officials have been instructed regarding pass interference to not call anything on bang bang pass plays unless the defender (or offender) clearly disrupts the receiver prior to the ball arriving. If this is true its a directive I whole-heartedly support...call the penalty if a defender is clearly out of position or trying to recover and prevent a big play and not playing the ball but if the defender gets there at the same time as the ball (even if its a split second early) I'd be much happier to see that allowed than to have the offense get bailed out by a penalty.

by rj1 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 8:38am

My initial postgame thoughts from last night:

-thank God the Patriots lost
-both defenses tonight were completely worthless, there was nothing approaching a pass rush - one total sack all game (a pretty important one at least), one interception due to a receiver swatting it in the air, not due to the QB or defense; the all-time NFL offensive yards record for any game was set tonight
-Foles played like an all-star; probably not in Philadelphia, but he'll be starting somewhere next year
-Doug Pederson called a great game, watching the 2nd half due to both defenses' complete ineptitude presented each team with the scenario of "we have to score a touchdown every drive just to hold serve"; the Foles touchdown catch was a carbon copy of the play earlier that Brady dropped the catch; listening to Matt Hasselbeck on ESPN post-game I didn't realize this but Pederson ten years ago was coaching high school football
-why did Malcolm Butler not play?
-the refs I don't think called a pass interference all night

Having slept on it for a night, I don't think we can call it the greatest or anything. Look, it's great drama and everyone loves points, but that's a game where under regular season circumstances you might see both defensive coordinators fired. The defenses were completely and totally useless.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:22am

No PIs were called. Two false starts, two defensive holdings (both on Philly), one illegal block on a kick return, one 12-men-on-field.

As ESPN noted, there was one sack and no holding penalties on 93 pass attempts. You don't expect to see that combination.

by rj1 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:54am

Well, it was never called, was there a case for it to be called for people that pay closer attention to line play?

Or were we witness last night to the NFL behind closed doors telling the refs to do Stanley Cup playoffs-level refereeing of "let them play"?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:04am

I think it's clearly the latter.

There were a bunch of situations where DPIs would always be called in the regular season or early rounds of the playoffs that were plays-on.

The underthrown Smith bomb in the 4th quarter is a DPI 95% of the time, when the DBs runs into the returning WR without looking back for the ball.

Jeffery was clearly interfered with on the last 2-pt attempt. (DB face guarding two-hand shoves him well before the ball arrives)

Conversely, Hogan got decked going downfield on the last play. Now, that usually only gets called if the Lions are involved, but that was clearly illegal contact.

I saw a couple of suspect holds/blocks in the back, but Ben can tell us with vastly more authority.

by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:08am

I think the latter for sure. It seems to me quite clear that the officials were instructed, "Do not let this game turn on a controversial call. Throw a flag only if it's an extremely obvious penalty; overturn a catch only if it's an extremely obvious no-catch."

God send that those instructions would carry forward permanently, is my personal opinion.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:01am

I hope we can get past the "Illegal Formation" issue fairly quickly. Evidently, it was either approved by the line judge incorrectly or just missed, but it also had nothing to do with the success or failure of the play. That was a brilliant call that would have worked even if the wide receiver had lined up in Duluth.

by jtr :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:20am

It's a silly thing to get worked up about. He did check in with the line judge before the snap. He's almost even with the offensive tackles, who always line up a bit off the ball but are still considered "on the line". This is like when somebody uses a screenshot to show that the guard was 1.5 yards downfield instead of 1 yard on a screen pass as part of whatever grand refereeing conspiracy they're currently chasing.

by Sakic :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:26pm

Players have been taught to check with the official regarding their positioning at the line of scrimmage going back to high school. In most cases the official will signal to the receiver that they either need to move forward or backward in order to avoid the illegal formation. Its part of the reason why you almost never see an illegal formation based on the edge receiver being out of position since they always check (you'll see illegal formation penalties more often in goal line/short yardage situations where a second tight end on the strong side needs to be back of the LOS and is too far forward.)

Jeffrey did exactly what he was supposed to do and to have called a penalty in that situation would've been a travesty.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:09pm

Players have been taught to check with the official regarding their positioning at the line of scrimmage going back to high school.


I remember being taught that in elementary school level.

by SandyRiver :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:27am

Even the best officials miss a few - c'est la vie. However, had the infraction been called, the Eagles would've faced 4th-and-7, with their trick play having been burned. I think they'd have taken the 3.

A thought re: Butler's absence - if Bademosi wraps up Agholor on the Eagles' 1st drive of the 2nd half, they face 4th-and-3 on their own 22. I don't think even Doug Pederson would've gone for it at that place and time. Instead, Agholor converts and the drive nets a TD.

by ammek :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:18am

So the best team of the DVOA era narrowly beat the best team of the FO era (in terms of cumulative DVOA). We don't think it so much of the Eagles, but these teams have been model franchises for a long while.

I, too, thought Brady was off at times, so I was surprised to see his yards-per-play numbers. The Patriots offense either picked up big chunks of yardage or got nothing at all – a very un-Patriots-like split. Meanwhile their special teams were shaky, they lost the battle on third down, their trick plays bombed, and their end-of-half offense was nothing to write home about. Not even the borderline calls went their way. It felt very apocalyptic.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:26am

22-12 score is also super unique.

There is no such thing as "super unique". There can be super rare; but unique is a binary state.

You can't have a coin land "super heads".

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:30am

Dave Bernreuther: Any time anyone uses the "Brady has never had weapons" argument, show them that drive.

Who made that argument?

He's played with what will probably be considered the best TE in NFL history (for that player's entire career), a 1st-ballot HOF WR, two edge guys (Dillon, Welker), and a Scarnecchia offensive line.

Most QBs would chop off a testicle for that.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:10pm

I agree.

I am not a big twitter guy, but I read a lot of it this week, and Scott's timeline tends to bring out the 2005-esque irrational arguments, so I had that on my mind. (A few dog park acquaintances had a similarly unintelligent and belligerent conversation this weekend too.) You and Aaron are both correct that it's not really relevant to our general population on this site.

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:54pm

It sounds like what you're trying to say is...


by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:56pm

Story of my life.

by PaddyPat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:09pm

In Brady's early career, the difference in value between Deion Branch/David Givens/Troy Brown/David Patten, and Marvin Harrison/Reggie Wayne/Dallas Clark gave birth to the impression that Tom had no weapons.

Subsequently, he has endured isolated seasons with very weak pass catchers. In 2006, after Branch and Givens walked, the Patriots' receiving corps was highlighted by: Reche Caldwell/Benjamin Watson/Jabar Gaffney. Then in 2013, after Wes Welker walked, Amendola got injured, and Gronk was recovering, the receiving corps was a lot of Kenbrell Thompkins/Aaron Dobson/and a raw Julian Edelman.

That seems to me to be the root of this gripe. I don't know how common it is for star QBs to endure isolated seasons with such middling receiving talent. On the other hand, Brady has also played at times with absolute studs.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:36am

Rivers McCown: How in the hell did the Eagles score just 15 on the Falcons?

Four fumbles, 3 FGs, and 1 missed XP. Foles had the yips in the first half.

Also, the Falcons, for all their lack of depth, have a very fast defense. Philly wasn't breaking off many huge plays.

They've been locked-in since the second drive of the Vikings game, though. 977 yards and 72 points on 17 drives, 22 of 31 on 3rd or 4th down.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:43am

The wind was blowing like hell in the Falcons game. Short of a Favreian arm, nobody passes well in a wind like that.

The most simple explanation is often the most accurate.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:43am

"Oh, and if we're going to have the "best Super Bowl argument," again, I'm partial to Super Bowl XLIII (Steelers-Cardinals). Unlike this game it had both offense and defense. Or Super Bowl XLIX."

Others to consider:

by BJR :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:50am

Every single recent Patriots Super Bowl has been a barnstormer in one way or another. For all the hate and vitriol they induce, they do a good job of providing entertainment in the big game.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:49am

I think you mean "barnburner," not "barnstormer."
OK, nit-picking class is over, you can go back to discussing football.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:36pm



by ChrisS :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 2:30pm

Also XVCIIM & VIILD & don't forget XIVIM
P.S. I hate the Roman Numeral affectation

by MC2 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:12am

Ditto. I wish people would just use the year of the corresponding regular season, e.g. "2017" for Patriots-Eagles, "2016" for Patriots-Falcons, etc.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:36am

I find the year confusing.

Was this the Super Bowl for 2017 or 2018?

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:48am

If that were the standard notation, however, you would be accustomed to it. Soccer leagues have used dual-year (eg. 2017-18 season) notation for over a century, but we generally know what is meant when somebody mentions, say, the 1999 treble (Manchester United won the league, F.A. Cup, and Champions League) even though the season began in 1998.

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:05pm

The 2017 Eagles won the Super Bowl. No one gets confused when you talk about the 1985 Bears, the 1999 Rams, or the 2007 Patriots.

by Steve B :: Wed, 02/07/2018 - 2:40am

One of these teams is not like the other...

by Eddo :: Wed, 02/07/2018 - 10:41am

I never said they were all Super Bowl winners, just memorable teams. And the fact you knew exactly which Patriots team I was talking about kind of proves my point: you use the year the majority of the regular season took place in when describing a team.

by MC2 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:44pm

It's based on the corresponding regular season. I thought I was pretty clear about that. I even gave a couple of examples.

by dryheat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:48am

Does Mike actually still write for Bleacher Report? I haven't seen anything from him over there lately, and his archive page seems to have disappeared.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:29am

BR changed its URL structure. Here's Mike's new "home page".


by dryheat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:02am

Much Obliged!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:52am

but I say that because despite the fact that we can't point to too many blatant failures in coverage or execution by Philly's defense


Philly's defense played like white WRs (vis White WRs) were invisible. How many times did Brady throw up a moonball to a WR who was open by 10 yards because a corner covered the wrong crosser in a zone?

This and the line were the difference between New England and Minnesota. Brady had a better pocket (but Philly still prevented him from consistently being able to step into throws) and Brady saw the open man faster than Keenum did, who missed an open WR on his pick-6.

I think the shakiness of the secondary was why Schwartz so steadfastly refused to blitz. He didn't trust his back-end to keep containment without extra numbers.

by apbadogs :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:52am

I'm glad Bryan mentioned the RPO madness. EVERY play action pass was called an RPO by announcers in the Eagles games, was ridiculous. Even the plays where it "looked" like an RPO were not RPOs in most cases.

by billprudden :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:07am

Three sets of thoughts about the future:

1) Given the success of cast-off, back-up, and much-maligned QBs in various cities this season, I wonder if we'll see owners and coaches thinking differently about the value of high picks and other sunk costs at the position. Was the RG3 trade the last such exercise?

2) I'd love to know what defensive coordinators think might have slowed either offense last night. At 30 team offices this morning, what positions / skill sets / schemes are they prioritizing?

3) Will next season finally get us some rational go-for-it-on-4th-more-often play calling? Could this game have been the "norming" of keeping the ball at almost all costs?

by billprudden :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:27am

... and a starter set of possible answers:

1) I see more coaches fired sooner - "What do you mean 4-12 was the only reasonable outcome with this roster? Why couldn't you turn _____ into chicken salad?"

2) I'd try the 46 (actually a 3 CB version of it) with 3x 3-techniques instead of a traditional NT. Aaron Donald next to Sheldon Richardson next to Fletcher Cox, if you can get 'em all or players in the same mold. Send all three each play, plus the right EDGE, and/or left EDGE, and/or MLB/SS up the middle as you see fit. But three between the tackles every down.

3) Yes. I hope.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:56am

First, there is no player in the mold of Aaron Donald. Second, usually instead of players in the mold of Donald, Richardson, and Cox you often have JAG1, JAG2, and JAG3. Even if they had the pass rush ability, chances are this line would surrender over 5 yd/carry.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:31am

Re #2 -- I think both defenses obviously lacked fast cover-LB guys. Neither team could defend against both TEs and RBs.

This, I think, was a sneaky part of New York's success against New England -- their base set was big nickle with a big safety in the box. Seattle and Atlanta slowed New England down that way (until injured and tired, respectively) and Denver could do that, too. Pittsburgh hasn't been able to since Polamalu retired.

Both teams sort of have that guy, but both Hicks and Hightower were hurt. Structurally, though, both teams have run-stop LBs, which both got exploited by multiple slotty offenses.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:54am

Outside of the 3rd quarter, Seattle never slowed NE down. The Patriots had 14 points in the first half and another drive inside the 10, on 5 chances.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:00am

Seattle entered with one healthy DB and three injured ones. The healthy DB was injured on the pick-6. After which, Seattle's defense struggled.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:39pm

Losing Avril was big, too

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:51pm

1) I think this was just one of those seasons. Minny was excellent on third down all year and Philly with Foles was over 60% conversion rate in the playoffs. And the counter point to Minny and Philly is Indy, Houston (sans-Watson), and Green Bay (just to name three). Foles, most likely, just pulled a mini-Flacco. Keenum might be a late bloomer, or might have just road an unsustainable third down conversion rate.

2) I don't know Xs & Os enough; but seems like a lot of what happened last night was Foles having all day to throw and Brady either creating time or having more time than I think most thought he would.

3) I hope so. But man, Philly was awfully close to not converting on 4th down at midfield; took a pick and forward progress to get that... and if they don't, no one is singing Pederson's praises.

by Dan_L :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 1:02am

For 3, I think a big part of the reason we see coach conservatism is that failed 4th down plays are blamed on them in a much harsher way than just losing a game is. Therefore we can expect coaches to take the aggressive approach more in playoff games, and the rest of the year to coach towards the goal of keeping their job.

by James-London :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:33am

That was a fun game to watch, and the best part was the Eagles coaching staff doing their best to drive a stake through NE's heart rather than waiting for them to die. Even then the game came down to a Hail Mary.

TE end-around pass to the QB on 4th and goal: Has their been a ballsier call in a SuperBowl? And how much money did Nick Foles just make?

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by jtr :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:27am

>Has their been a ballsier call in a SuperBowl?

Sean Payton's surprise onside kick to start the second half against the Colts comes to mind. That would have given the Colts tremendous field position if it failed, whereas if the Eagles failed on 4&goal, they would have still had the Pats pinned back on their own goal line.

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:05pm

I absolutely loved that play. Not for the gimmickry, the 'digging deep in the playbook', as Al Michaels was saying.

The Eagles went for it on 4th, and used basically the same play that the Patriots had tried earlier but failed to convert. I thought it was brilliant, as it highlighted Doug Pedersen's fairly aggressive, steamroller attitude. 'Every down is a valid down, we watched the Jags take their foot off the pedal to protect a lead, we will not make that mistake', etc.

Saying 'Hey look - our younger QB can make that catch that you guys tried' was just brilliant.

by Peregrine :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:38am

* I like my games with some defense. Points and yards should be precious.

* Wasn't there a game in the last week or two of the regular season when Nick Foles looked incompetent? Very impressive coaching by the Eagles staff to tweak the offense and integrate Foles in a short period of time. I find it hard to believe that Wentz could have played any better, which is a testament to Pederson and Co.

* The Eagles don't win unless Pederson chooses to go for it on those two opportunities. On the first one, the QB TD catch, I was definitely raising an eyebrow but it was a great play call. The second decision was more clear cut, but a lot of coaches would have punted there.

* The Foles TD catch play was reminiscent of the Oklahoma TD pass to Mayfield near the end of the first half in the Rose Bowl against UGA. Eagles went with the direct snap to RB, Oklahoma went with the toss to RB, but otherwise very similar.

* Elliott has some serious huevos, to make that 46-yarder at the end. If he missed it, Patriots would have taken over at their 36 needing a TD to win. I bet they would have gotten it.

* The refs let a lot of things go. Wish they'd done that last year.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:54am

One thing Collinsworth nailed (as opposed to the LSD-laced analysis of the Ertz td) was how much Jason Peters' backup developed over the past 6 weeks. Absent that, Eagles fans aren't hungover this morning.

by serutan :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 1:41am

" * I like my games with some defense. Points and yards should be precious."

Precisely why SB 23 tops my list, even if it was the most gruesome SB.
Was wr

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:39am

Re: the Hail Mary.

No, I didn't think it felt inevitable. Gronk's a great receiver, but I don't really think of him as a jumpball guy in the mold of the Johnsons, Fitzgerald, or the ur-example, Jeff Janis.

If it were Rodgers throwing a Hail Mary, it would have felt inevitable. It's easy to forget that in the 2015 Packers-Cardinals playoff game, he hit *two* Hails Mary to Janis on one drive to tie it up.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:00am

Gronk totally mis-timed his jump. Doesn't mean he would have caught it, of course, but the mis-timing made it impossible.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:21am

I think the bigger issue was the two other other Patriot receivers didn't space themselves correctly around Gronk. If they had, I think the chance for a tipped ball reception go up considerably.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:57am

Some semi-lucid thoughts on the game.

* Philly is a deserved champion. NE spent the first half shooting themselves in a the foot and the Eagles not only took advantage, they refused to let the Patriots take back control. Their OL was outstanding, as was the offensive game plan.

* Despite the outcome, NE's defense really isn't that bad. I'd even venture to say that they are good (not great, like the ppg indicates, but still good). Philly's offense deserves more credit that the Patriots deserve blame.

* The same could be said for the other side of the equation: NE's offense won more than Philly's defense lost. The only difference is that Philly didn't squander their chances like the Patriots did. In the first half alone, NE left 7-14 points on the table due to wholly unforced errors. The missed kicks are obvious, but there was also the Cooks play when he bizarrely tried to jump over a guy when he had the angle if he just kept running, Brady dropping an easy pass and Brady throwing to a double covered Gronk instead of taking the easy first down to Amendola on their opening drive.

* But special teams was even uglier. Beyond the botched kicks, Philly dominated NE in the first line and allowed the returners to consistently get to the 25+ yard line. It was a complete failure in what should have been their biggest advantage.

* He didn't even warrant mention in the injury aftermath post, but I'll reiterate that losing Jonathon Jones against TN was a much bigger loss than people realize. He absence lead directly to the poor coverage and, being a good slot corner, he would have been a key piece in replacing Butler's snaps.

* I'm sure NE losing in part because of a TD that was upheld despite being clearly incomplete isn't lost on anyone. (Clements)

* The juxtaposition of Foles catching a TD pass and Brady dropping his chance sums up this game very well.

by rj1 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:03am

* Despite the outcome, NE's defense really isn't that bad. I'd even venture to say that they are good (not great, like the ppg indicates, but still good). Philly's offense deserves more credit that the Patriots deserve blame.

* The same could be said for the other side of the equation: NE's offense won more than Philly's defense lost."

Allright, just stop right now with this line of reasoning. It's a zero sum game. Offense/defense is like hitting/pitching in baseball. It's not possible to be a good pitcher in one contest AND give up 7 home runs, even if you're up against all-star hitting. If one side of the ball heavily succeeded, that meant the other side of the ball heavily failed. You can't have a game where a litany of offensive game records for every single game ever in the history of the NFL fell, and sit and tell me the defense was "good".

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:05am

Stop what? Giving credit to Philly for a masterful gameplan and near-perfect execution?

EDIT: I didn't say the defense was good in that game, I said that are a good defense overall. These are not mutual exclusive, see Minnesota two weeks ago.

by rj1 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:09am

Philadelphia Offense: Masterful gameplan and near-perfect execution
New England Defense: Complete and total failure

One cannot exist without the other.

It is possible that both could play well and more or less fight to a chess-like draw, but the number of points scored in that type of game would be from the high teens to the high 20s.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:11am

Reading comprehension isn't your thing, is it?

by rj1 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:29am

Defense last night from both teams was beyond poor. It's incredibly difficult to argue intelligently that was not the case. This game set all-time offensive records for any game in the NFL ever. You're trying to say New England are a good defense. Okay, against a QB that up until early December was sitting on the bench, this good defense generated no pass rush, never had a sack, never generated an offensive holding call, let up 5 touchdowns and 3 field goals with only the last FG due to the offense putting them in a bad position, the Eagles only punted once, and their only interception was a fluke they didn't generate because the receiver swatted the ball up in the air.

Success for the Patriots defense last night was the Eagles only got 3 points.

If you're going to say they are a good defense all or most of the time, fine, how did they do one of the most massive chokejobs ever? That was a beyond awful performance for a "good defense".

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:03pm

Was Minnesota's defense good this year?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:17pm

Yes, it was excellent, until injuries depleted a defensive line which had depth issues. Then, that problem was compensated for with outstanding db play for several weeks, until things collapsed in Philadelphia, which started when the Vikings best db had to leave the field. Even so, if the Vikings had managed to win a close game in Carolina in December, they likely would have been far more competitive against the Eagles in Minneapolis. Absent the Vikings offense giving the Saints offense two very short fields in the 2nd half, the Vikings defense did well against the Saints.

by ssereb :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:03pm

It's not exactly a zero-sum game, though. Think about the Steelers-Jaguars game from a few weeks ago. The Jaguars defense played well and eventually prevailed. They did give up points to the Steelers, but it took some unbelievable passes from Roethlisberger and some circus catches from his receivers. Thinking back to the TDs in that game, there's almost no other QB-WR combos that could have made those plays. Sometimes you defend really well and get beaten by a perfect playcall perfectly executed.

by SFC B :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:34am

You absolutely can be an excellent pitcher and give up a bunch of runs. At the extreme example you could have your defense cough up a couple errors in a row and then you give up a HR. Baseball analytics tries to account for this through things like deserved run average and fielding independent stats. You can also have an occasion of an excellent pitcher just having a bad sequence. For example Clayton Kershaw in Game 5 of last year's World Series. Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher in baseball and certainly Top 5. He cruises through 3 innings, then gives up a walk, an out, a lazy single, then Carlos Correa turns on a WAY inside fastball. There might be a handful of batters who could have hit that pitch and not foul it off or hit it weakly on the ground. Kershaw has now given up a run without throwing a bad pitch to anyone but George Springer. Yuli Gurriel then gets a hold of a slider that caught too much plate and the game is tied. Maybe Kershaw shouldn't have gone to that pitch; he threw it to Gurriel a bunch in the previous at bat. He's now given up 4 runs with only one bad at bat and one really bad pitch. Kershaw then gets tagged with two more runs when Kenada Maeda grooves a 3-2 fastball to Jose Altuve. Kershaw got snakebit by losing a fraction of his location against the best hitting team in baseball when their absolute best players were batting. It doesn't take away from him being an excellent pitcher, or mean that he had a bad process in that game. He didn't. He threw a slider when Gurriel was sitting slider and then his reliever tried to sneak a fastball middle-low against the best contact hitter in the game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:36pm

Andy Hawkins once lost a 4-0 game in which he pitched a no-hitter and allowed no earned runs.

Ken Johnson lost a 2-walk no-hitter.

Brodeur lost a 4OT game in which he allowed 1 goal on 50 shots. This was a top-50 all-time goalie game.
(Hasek pitched a 70-shot shutout; Brodeur lost to the best goalie game in NHL history)
This was the hockey equivalent of this game:

Hippo Vaughn lost a 9-inning no-hitter to Fred Toney, who pitched a 10-inning perfect game.

by MC2 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:46pm

Don't forget Harvey Haddix, who lost a game 1-0, after pitching 12 perfect innings:


by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:06am

The Eagles likely threw away 5 points in the 1st half, via a pre-snap penalty on the Patriots two yard line, and a missed extra point.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:59am

Philly's game plan felt very Pats-y.

The defense hemorrhaged a ton of yards, but at a low points-per-yard ratio. They won field position. They converted a ton of 3rd downs. They exploited mismatches at RB. They played against tendency. They won FG exchanges.

Quietly, the Pats wasted a second-half timeout in a stopped-clock situation. How much did that hurt towards the end?

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:01am

God yes. I was screaming at the TV when they took that timeout.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:04am

I don't think the Clements catch was nearly as clearly incomplete as you suggest, and, to me, letting the call stand was right. Which isn't to say that the season did not feature way too many reversals that were inadequately supported by video evidence. At least the moon-howlers who claim a pro Patriot officiating conspiracy will shut up for a while.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:06am

But The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Ron Riveron is fun to say.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:08am

Clement didn't have initial control of the ball, meaning his "second" foot was the one that came down partially out of bounds. It wasn't a touchdown.

I'm not blaming the officials for the loss, just using it to make an ironic point.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:16am

I think your certainty over loss of control is unwarranted, but then I've said that all season long with regard to many reversals.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:09pm

As someone who had zero rooting interesting for or against either team last night, I don't think it was a catch and it was pretty clearly not a catch after what we've seen the last few years. They can probably hide behind the ruling on the field and the video evidence not being indisputable.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:05pm

I felt the same. At first I thought it was a great catch, and then on the replay it seemed pretty clear to me he caught it, the ball visibly shifted as he lost control, and then the second foot stepped just out of bounds. I actually thought it was pretty clear it wasn't a catch based on how it's usually called. I mean, assuming there's a "usually" when it comes to defining "catch".

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:31pm

The ball shifted because he was moving it - or at least, you can't tell that he *wasn't* moving it. That's the key. In most of the other cases you see the ball moving without the player pretty much doing anything.

by GlennW :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:49pm

By the standard of the replay overturns we saw with the Seferian-Jenkins and especially the Kelvin Benjamin "non-catches", Clement's grab wasn't a catch either. Al Riveron finally lost his nerve, and that's a good thing as he was ruining games with these inconclusive replay decisions. It certainly didn't hurt that Mike Pereira was administering weekly beatings down the stretch (that "some suit in New York" jab at Riveron might have been the biggest example of zebra-on-zebra crime we've ever witnessed).

by MC2 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:17am

Exactly. Just because you have made a mistake many times in the past is no reason to keep making it.

More generally, I wish we could have a return to the original purpose of replay, which was to correct calls that were obviously wrong, rather than going over every important play with a fine-toothed comb, looking for some reason to overturn it.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 5:22am

Yep. If you put a time limit and it's not decided then it's not obvious enough.

I'll add a few further ideas:

Things really began to go downhill circa 2012 when the NFL decided to review all scoring plays, turnovers and everything in the final two minutes of each half. You hardly ever see a coach throw a challenge flag these days because there is nothing left for them to challenge. Maybe that's a step to go back.

I'm wondering if the networks ought reconsider how they broadcast and commentate on those replays. They're killing their own ratings by showing the inconsistency of officiating and the rules. It's no longer fun to debate those moments, it's just tedious. Heck, when Michaels and Collinsworth can't figure what is or isn't a catch, you know there's something wrong. For all our criticism of them, they know football as well as anybody and if they can't figure it out what chance have the rest of us got.

The NFL doesn't seem to realise that it's fine to have a bit of controversy and debate in a highlights or postgame show. Legendary plays like the Immaculate Reception or the Tuck Rule are what the league has been built on.

by MC2 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 8:00am

I totally agree about the automatic booth reviews. Get rid of them, and go back to the system where replays could only result from a coach's challenge. Allow coaches to challenge as much as they want, as long as they keep winning the challenges. But they are only allowed one unsuccessful challenge (or maybe two in a postseason game). After that, they are just out of luck. That would force them to only challenge when they were fairly sure of winning the challenge, which means that replay would mainly be limited to obvious mistakes.

by eagle97a :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 8:16am

I don't know if we could put the genie back into the bottle. For better or for worse technology is here to stay and the NFL just needs to evolve to incorporate technology while making sure it complements the game and not destroy or distract the viewing experience for everybody.

by rj1 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:27am

I'm on a rugby forum which has a lot of people that point out general flaws in football and the Super Bowl as they perceive it (e.g. all the dead time). There was one good point made that technology in the case of the bobbled TD catch it was "one of those times where access to many angles of slo-mo replays really just complicates things more than anything".

Goodell during the week told the Competition Committee to change the catch rule, so probably what was seen was what the new rule is going to be.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:43am

The automatic replays of scoring plays and turnovers are where replay (which I like in principle) really started to go wrong. I understand why coaches may not want that responsibility back, but I would still put the onus back on the coaches so that we don't have this annoying stoppage every. single. time. we get an exciting play.

The refereeing is bad enough at present that I would not restrict coaches to a single challenge. Let them challenge any point of fact they want, including point-of-fact penalties such as offside. Each failure costs a time out, though, and time outs are valuable. I doubt we would see many truly frivolous challenges.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:42am

The standard I'd like to go to with regard to loss of control on completing a catch is clear video evidence that the receiver has no hand or arm contact with the ball. I think we'd have fewer review delays, and I'm fine with giving a guy a catch when he has kept a hand or arm in contact with the ball.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:09pm

Sure, but as the rules are currently written the unmistakable bobble means the necessary second foot was the one that came down out of bounds, making it an incomplete pass. I don't begrudge anyone for feeling it should be a catch, but that's a different discussion entirely.

FWIW, the Ertz TD was clearly a catch, he didn't start falling until his 3rd foot came down, which made him a runner at the time. I found it annoying how much Collinsworth tried to milk that moment when there was never any doubt the call would be confirmed.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:25pm

I disagree with your concept of "unmistakeable" as I have with many reversals all year. This was one where the correct use of language was employed, in my view.

The only explanation I have for Collinsworth's babbling on the Ertz review is that he sees Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as a guide to proper business travel.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:36pm

At least he didn't say Ertz had turned into a giant gila monster catching a dachshund or some other chemical-enhanced hallucination.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:20pm

I half expected Collinsworth to look at the camera in the post game wrap, and say.....

"We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug-collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon."

.... while starting to call Al "Dr. Gonzo".

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:44pm

Well now I wish he had.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:52pm

You can disagree that it was a bobble sufficient to require an extra step, but that he bobbled it is unmistakable. Yes, that word is apt. :)

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:53pm

We differ, and that's o.k..

by Jay Gloab :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:38pm

I am an Eagles fan, though I try not to be a homer, so take this with whatever-sized grain of salt you like.

I didn't see it as a bobble at all. It looked like he was tucking the ball to secure it.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:47pm

The standard I want is the pre-Emmanuel rule that the NFL had for decades: If any part of the ball touches the ground during the catch process, it is incomplete.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:13am

I'll settle for any consistent standard

by johonny :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:31am

Congrats to the Eagles and their fans. It gives the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins fans a glimmer of hope that someday their endless drought will finally end and they might actually be allowed to participate in the NFL again.

by Led :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:54am

Oh good. "One of these things is not like the others" was one of my favorite bits on Sesame Street. I know the answer. Pick me!

by Travis :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:04pm

It always surprises me that the Dolphins have not won a Super Bowl since the goalposts were moved to the back of the end zone.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:29pm

Could be worse. The Chiefs and Jets have not even been back to the Super Bowl since the goalposts were moved. The Lions and Browns have yet to even make it.

by rj1 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:22pm


Since last appearance in Super Bowl, 20 or more seasons:

22 seasons - Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl XXX, 1995 season, this long since Barry Switzer profited off Jimmie Johnson's work!)
23 seasons - San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (Super Bowl XXIX, 1994 season)
23 seasons - Jacksonville Jaguars (never appeared)
24 seasons - Buffalo Bills (Super Bowl XXVIII, 1993 season)
26 seasons - Washington Redskins (Super Bowl XXVI, 1991 season, this long since Joe Gibbs!)
29 seasons - Cincinnati Bengals (Super Bowl XXIII, 1988 season)
33 seasons - Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl XIX, 1984 season, poor Dan Marino)
41 seasons - Minnesota Vikings (Super Bowl XI, 1976 season)
45 seasons (hiatus in here) - Cleveland Browns (lost the 1969 season NFL Championship Game, semifinal to Super Bowl IV)
48 seasons - Kansas City Chiefs (Super Bowl IV, 1969 season)
49 seasons - New York Jets (Super Bowl III, 1968 season, this long since Joe Namath...yeah, Jets fans probably believe that)
60 seasons - Detroit Lions (the 1957 NFL Championship Game)

Since last Super Bowl win, 25 or more seasons:

26 seasons - Washington Redskins (Super Bowl XXVI)
32 seasons - Chicago Bears (Super Bowl XX, this long since the Super Bowl Shuffle!)
34 seasons - Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders (Super Bowl XVIII)
44 seasons - Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl VIII)
48 seasons - Kansas City Chiefs (Super Bowl IV)
49 seasons - New York Jets (Super Bowl III)
49 seasons (hiatus in here) - Cleveland Browns (never won)
50 seasons - Cincinnati Bengals (never won)
52 seasons - Chicago/St.Louis/Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons (never won)

by rj1 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:24pm


Since last appearance in Super Bowl, 20 or more seasons:

22 seasons - Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl XXX, 1995 season, this long since Barry Switzer profited off Jimmie Johnson's work!)
23 seasons - San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (Super Bowl XXIX, 1994 season)
23 seasons - Jacksonville Jaguars (never appeared)
24 seasons - Buffalo Bills (Super Bowl XXVIII, 1993 season)
26 seasons - Washington Redskins (Super Bowl XXVI, 1991 season, this long since Joe Gibbs!)
29 seasons - Cincinnati Bengals (Super Bowl XXIII, 1988 season)
33 seasons - Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl XIX, 1984 season, poor Dan Marino)
41 seasons - Minnesota Vikings (Super Bowl XI, 1976 season)
45 seasons (hiatus in here) - Cleveland Browns (lost the 1969 season NFL Championship Game, semifinal to Super Bowl IV)
48 seasons - Kansas City Chiefs (Super Bowl IV, 1969 season)
49 seasons - New York Jets (Super Bowl III, 1968 season, this long since Joe Namath...yeah, Jets fans probably believe that)
60 seasons - Detroit Lions (the 1957 NFL Championship Game)

Since last Super Bowl win, 25 or more seasons:

26 seasons - Washington Redskins (Super Bowl XXVI)
32 seasons - Chicago Bears (Super Bowl XX, this long since the Super Bowl Shuffle!)
34 seasons - Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders (Super Bowl XVIII)
44 seasons - Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl VIII)
48 seasons - Kansas City Chiefs (Super Bowl IV)
49 seasons - New York Jets (Super Bowl III)
49 seasons (hiatus in here) - Cleveland Browns (never won)
50 seasons - Cincinnati Bengals (never won)
52 seasons - Chicago/St.Louis/Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons (never won)

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:39pm

The Vikings have now lost in 6 consecutive conference title appearances, including two in overtime, one when a pass was dropped in the end zone in the last minute, and two historical blowouts. I don't expect them to play in February in my lifetime.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:50pm

Don't fear. We'll have an 18 game schedule before long. That should move the conference championship games back to February.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:59pm


by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:40pm

I follow a team that can barely make it to January, remember?

And we just hired the world's worst DC as HC.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:50pm

Now, now, I predict that in the Patricia era we will see the Lions win a Super Bowl 56-53, from a wild card seed, after they beat a 17-0 Vikings team 35-34, in the Conference Championship,in Minneapolis, when Vikings starting qb, and league MVP, Blake Bortles inexplicably throws a pick six, in the last 30 seconds, after being instructed to execute a kneel-down.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 4:59pm


We all know the Lions won't be higher than the 6th-seed, and will hit the Vikings no later than the Division round.

by johonny :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:26pm

The Browns is the most bitter because of the two Elway games, and of course the two Super Bowl trophies by team formally known as the Browns. I was rooting in the play offs for Chiefs and Vikings just because the fan bases have waited forever.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:39am

did think bnoth teams would egt into 30s btu just figuedr as normally is case, other team would do something stupid at end to liose. luckily, Eags fid not go full moron at tnhe ned. Never go full moron. Now Eags finally have super bwol championship. congratulations to Eags.

by ddoubleday :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:00pm

If you had said "Nick Foles will lead the Eagles to SB victory" right after the 2013 season, when he had a ridiculous 27/2 TD/INT ratio, it would have seemed like a reasonable thing. But the reality of how it happened is so much stranger.

by serutan :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:08pm

There's a reason the saying "Truth is stranger than fiction" exists.
Was wr

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:33pm

I don't know if I'm more shocked that the Eagles D got shredded last night or if the Eagles put up 41 points.

The Eagles were fantastic on third down all year, and kept it up in the playoffs and Super Bowl; throw in fourth down, and that really seemed to be the difference in the game.

I thought Brady was great in the second half and just "good" in the first; he missed some throws as many have pointed out. Foles played very well, but some of those deep throws left a lot to be desired.

I know the Jenkins hit on Cooks wasn't illegal, but the league needs to do something about those hits. Jenkins lead with his helmet (why wasn't he evaluated for a concussion?), and hits like that can't be "awww shucks, part of the game". It put the issue front and center for the NFL yesterday, and I'd like to see them try and address it. I'm not a fan of college's targeting rule, but it's better than nothing. Getting rid of head shots of any kind might be the solution, but difficult to enforce.

Be interesting to see where these teams go from here. Brady at some point will hit the wall, but he's really showed almost no signs so far. And the Pats defense can't be worse going forward right? Meanwhile the Eagles were very good but I'm not sure how much is sustainable going forward. The excellent Oline should stay excellent/very good; but I'm not sure they can be as good on third down next year. And who knows how Wentz will look coming off that injury.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:58pm

"I know the Jenkins hit on Cooks wasn't illegal, but the league needs to do something about those hits. Jenkins lead with his helmet (why wasn't he evaluated for a concussion?), and hits like that can't be "awww shucks, part of the game"."

There's no way that you can do anything about those hits. Jenkins can't anticipate that Cooks is going to turn right towards him - and he didn't "lead" with his helmet, he led with his shoulder. His helmet made contact because of the angle to the receiver. The reason you can get rid of hitting a defenseless receiver is that he's trying to catch the ball, not avoid you, so you can take extra care. Cooks was a runner, and he has to be aware of the defenders around him.

But I think there's a bigger problem with your comment. The reason why Cooks got knocked out isn't because of the helmet part. It's because he was running to the left, and had no idea Jenkins was there. Jenkins was coming at him full speed from the right, and because Jenkins was braced for the hit and Cooks wasn't, Cooks just took the full force of the hit. If Jenkins would've hit lower, it still would've knocked Cooks out. The problem was that Cooks wasn't even looking for Jenkins and had no idea he was there.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 2:10pm

The reason Cooks got knocked out was because he ran to the left not because he was hit in the head? Seriously? Come on. Putting this on Cooks is wrong in every aspect, it's victim blaming.

I'm not necessarily calling Jenkins hit dirty, I don't think he was head hunting, or at least that wasn't his original intent. But the NFL has to do something about these hits to the head. We can't say "oh well" or "he was a runner so he's fair game!" since that doesn't solve the problem. Jenkins hit on Cooks cannot continued to be legal, even if Jenkins intent was not to hit him in the head.

by Led :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 6:10pm

At some point, offensive players have to play SOME role in their own safety. We're already at the point where no one criticizes a QB any more for "hospital passes" that put their teammates in harms way. The responsibility for receiver safety has shifted so that 100% of the responsibility is on the defense and zero on play designers and QBs. That opens up more space for the offense to make plays down the seem and across the middle. (I'm ok with the rule changes to protect receivers, but I also wish there were still some stigma on QBs throwing guys into collisons.) If you make a player like Jenkins have to slow down or play it safe when a guy like Cooks is running with the ball in the open field, guys like Cooks are going to break more tackles.

by morganja :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 6:15pm

That hit was entirely 100% on Cooks. You can't run around not looking where you're going on a football field, let alone in the Super Bowl. You have to be aware of where you are, and where everyone else is. It's not like a defenseless receiver who is looking for the ball and then gets popped. He had plenty of time to run around and see what was going on. He chose not to. Swivel your damn head and be aware.
I like Cooks. Hopefully he's learned not to run one direction while looking another, unless he knows already what's over there.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:59pm

And this is why the NFL and football is dying an ever slow death.

The hit is 0% on Cooks. If you're blaming Cooks, you're thinking about this all wrong.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:14am

So we've got 100%, and we've got 0%. Can we agree the answer is somewhere in the middle? 50/50 let's say :)

by MC2 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:40am

To the extent that football is dying, it is because of people (like you, apparently) who are on a crusade to totally eliminate injuries from the game. Football will never be as "safe" as basketball, or even baseball. Yet some people just can't accept that, and are determined to make it as "safe" as those sports. The only way to do that is to turn it into a completely different sport, that would bear no more resemblance to traditional football than what ping pong bears to tennis.

And no, this is not a straw man, or an exaggeration. Every year, the NFL passes new rules (many of which have a major impact on game play), but it's never enough for the "safety uber alles" types. Every time a star player gets injured, they invariably call for more and more radical rule changes. They won't be satisfied as long as any significant injuries occur. That crusade is what's "killing" the game.

Look, no one likes injuries. Guess what? No one likes car accidents, either. But that doesn't mean that we should reduce the speed limit on the freeway to 15 miles per hour, just because it would reduce highway fatalities. Nor should we use the desire to reduce injuries as a justification for morphing football into a completely different sport.

by Pat :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:50am

If you think there's any possible way that two people can collide safely at high speed going in opposite directions when one person is braced and the other isn't... I don't know what to tell you. There's no safe way for Jenkins to tackle Cooks there. Hitting him lower can still cause a concussion, plus it'll probably break his ribs and might puncture his lung.

I mean jeez, Jenkins also has like 20 pounds on Cooks, so it's *more* than hitting a brick wall at twice the speed.

by Pat :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:39am

"The reason Cooks got knocked out was because he ran to the left not because he was hit in the head?"

No. The reason he got knocked out was because he had no idea the hit was coming and he absorbed the full hit. Physics. Cooks has no way to absorb the impact, and Jenkins does (the ground), so Cooks pretty much takes all of the hit - it's like he hit a brick wall at twice the speed he was running. If he had braced himself at all (two legs on the ground, pushing off from the ground, or even attempting to push through Jenkins) he could've absorbed some of the hit.

Concussions don't just happen from blows to the head. A whiplash-type injury, where your body is suddenly thrown in the opposite direction it was moving in, will cause the problem just the same, because the brain gets shoved into the skull. Plus, of course, the contact from the ground that happens when you're literally knocked off your feet like Cooks was. Banging your head on the ground like that is a ton of force. This is a huge misunderstanding many people have with concussions. You don't go from "no concussion" to "concussion" just by the contact point moving a few inches.

If you don't understand this, Google for "concussion and whiplash injury."

"Putting this on Cooks is wrong in every aspect, it's victim blaming."

It's not victim blaming. It's football. Hitting someone who's in motion from an unexpected direction at high speed when the person hitting is braced is going to cause concussions often regardless of where you hit them. Even if they're not in motion it's going to cause concussions. If the other guy can't brace himself, and you're coming dead on from the opposite direction, it's never going to be safe. And you're never going to be able to make it so that you can't tackle a runner who doesn't know you're coming.

I mean, watch the tackle. Jenkins's hit glanced off of the facemask, and then his helmet is in Cooks's shoulder. That part alone isn't what caused the concussion - if it had been a collision in the air or something, that wouldn't've caused it. But Jenkins has both feet planted, so he's not moving, and Cooks is practically off his feet (he does have one foot on the ground, but it's a lateral movement, not a forward one). Cooks completely stops and is driven totally back. Like I said - it's like hitting a brick wall at twice running speed. Whether or not you hit your head directly isn't necessarily the problem.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:51am

Jenkins's hit glanced off of the facemask

Could you please give me a hit of the dope you're smoking?

by Pat :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:59pm

Watch the video. The only thing I'm saying is that this wasn't a case where the two helmets collided directly and the hit to the head was more traumatic than the hit to the body. In this case, the helmets hit down near Cook's facemask, and Jenkins's helmet slid to the shoulder. The hit to the shoulder has more force than the hit to the head, which you can see because Cook's head comes forward.

That hit isn't going to be safe if Jenkins hits Cook six inches lower and the helmet only makes direct contact with his shoulder. Cook is 20 pounds lighter than Jenkins, and Jenkins is braced to take the impact and Cook isn't. It's not even going to prevent concussions on plays like that.

by jtr :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 1:34pm

I agree with your overall premise here. This would be a game-ender for Cooks even if Jenkens hit him in the middle of the chest. I think the NFL has been working hard to promote the false idea that football will be safe if they just crack down on helmet-to-helmet hits. That's simply not the case, and players regularly get traumatic brain injuries (concussions) from hard hits not directed at the head due to the whiplash effect and collisions with the ground. Plus, there's a decent bit of evidence out there that CTE damage builds up not just from concussions, but from sub-concussive blows, which occur on every single play. The NFL is focusing on the most obviously damaging hits to deflect from the fact that brain damage is inevitable whenever you have elite athletes colliding at top speed.

BTW, Jenkins led with the crown of the helmet, which is never legal outside of the tackle box. The NFL just hasn't been calling it except in the case of defenseless players. The Shazier hit on Gio Bernard in the playoffs a few years ago was another example of a brutal h2h hit that should have been flagged.

by Pat :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:38pm

There's a fair amount of evidence to support what I'm saying if you just look at past hits, for instance. Earl Thomas hit Gronk square in his chest while he was receiving the ball, and they were worried he had punctured his lung, and he ended up missing several plays. Is that the same as Cooks? No, because Gronk has 60+ pounds on Thomas, and Thomas wasn't braced on the ground, either (because, again, see weight difference).

Even my standard 'big hit' reference of Sheldon Brown on Reggie Bush wasn't as hard a hit as Cooks-Jenkins because Brown/Bush were equal weight. And while Bush didn't get knocked out, I'm pretty darn sure that if concussion testing had been around then, he wouldn't have passed it.

"BTW, Jenkins led with the crown of the helmet, which is never legal outside of the tackle box."

I don't *think* he did, but I'll agree it looks close. From the downfield angle, it looks like he did (because you can't see the back shoulder) but from the upfield angle it looks like he lead with his shoulder. But I don't disagree with the statement you're making regarding the NFL calling it, though.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:44pm

The Jenkins hit would have been legal in college, too.

Cooks wasn't defenseless. He was unaware, but that's sort of like skating through the neutral zone with your head down in hockey.

The solution to this is counter-intuitive. You need to re-legalize defensive holding. Opening up the game makes these hits more common, not less. You don't get 10 yard head of steam, punt-return like hits in confined space. You also don't get 1200 yards of offense and no punts, either.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:02pm

How many realize that we've had 8 great SB games in the last ten years? The only ho-hum games were the two with the Broncos, and even the Carolina game was entertaining. I much prefer this to the 80's-mid 90's when most of the games were blowouts.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:09pm

The Broncos Panthers game was basically the inverse of this one. All defense, neither offense could do anything, one score game for nearly all of it. Only difference the broncos late fumble recovery turned into a TD to make it a two score game. While the eagles could only get a field goal.

Honestly, I thought both games were equally entertaining. If we expand to 11 years (SBXLII) onwards, would have both Giants Patriots games, the Pats Seahawks game and Steelers Cardinals ahead of last night.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:59pm

I loved the Broncos-Panthers game.

by Tundrapaddy :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:09pm

I have to disagree, if only because my Seahawks (my 2nd team) won one of the two 'boring Broncos' Super Bowls you mentioned.
Otherwise, carry on.

by ammek :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:49pm

And nine different winners in those ten years. Fourteen different participants. The NFL really has done one thing right in recent times, and that's level the field.

I enjoyed both of the Broncos games, because I also like to watch a team just being awesome on the biggest stage – so long as it's not my team on the receiving end of its awesomeness.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:57pm

I thought watching Wade Phillips intellectually curb stomp David Shula was interesting as hell.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:02pm

I feel like I basically watched a reasonably entertaining Arena Football League title game. There was essentially one actual defensive play the entire game, and it was a big one, but, other than that, it was just kind of silly. I don't think it was a notably good Super Bowl at all by anything resembling recent standards, and it's going to be one of those like my favorite of all time, SB XXXVII. I love that game because the Bucs won, and the Bucs defense clubbed the Raiders so hard the game was pretty awful for anyone who wasn't invested in the winning team in some way. Philly fans will remember this one because it's the precious first, but, in any objective, I'd have to think this is going to be remembered as a silly, defense-less game.

by TecmoBoso :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:21pm

I don't think that was a great game by any means. Exciting? Sure. Edge of your seat? I was. But receivers on both teams were running around wide open most of the game and there were few stops. I think the comp that comes to mind for me is Super Bowl XXXII; another exciting game, with a good amount of points, but very sloppy (five turnovers). This game was better played by the two offenses, but both D's were no shows.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:42pm

It featured some really awful db play. I attribute the spotty pass rushes to excellent o-line play, on both sides.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:44pm

There were a *lot* of good defensive plays in the first half by the Eagles. They just didn't look "oh my god" because Brady can see the future and chucked the ball away at the last minute, but the pressure absolutely affected Brady. Plus Jalen Mills had a bunch of really good pass breakups as well.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:00pm

I agree. Look, last night's game was an entertaining Super Bowl from the perspective of the outcome of the game being in question for a full 60 minutes, but in my opinion any game that sets the all-time record for combined yards cannot be a great game. It seemed like both QBs were throwing to wide open receivers all night, and of course the teams combined for a grand total of 1 sack. I don't want to see a 6-3 Super Bowl, either, but some indication that the defensive players are actually worthy of being in a Super Bowl would be nice.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:17pm

Maybe if last night's Super Bowl and the Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl from two years ago got together and had a Super Baby, we could make a good game. Offense and defense.

It was like being in training camp, with offenses playing against air. Ugh.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 1:20pm

Nobody saw it last year, so few mentioned it (at the time), but the Philly Special was lifted from the Matt Barkley Bears playbook in the Week 17 game last season.

I can't be the only person amused by the fact that two incredibly entertaining trick play passes to QBs this season were birthed by known offensive risk-taker John Fox.

by danplatt17 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 2:22pm

I agree with Dave Bernreuther's comments - McDaniels' coaching must have been fantastic, because the Pats' receivers were so wide open, it was hard to believe. Patricia should catch a lot of flak, but I think the Pats D was getting whipped so badly at the line of scrimmage, that there's no play calling that can fix that. Plus, there was usually decent coverage on the Eagles receivers - Jeffrey and company made a bunch of tough catches. The Eagles have a ton of good players on both sides - congrats to them and their fans!

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 2:25pm

“You learn if you play passive, if you play conservative, if you call plays conservatively, you are going to be 8-8, 9-7 every year,” Pederson said.

Doug Pederson just became my favorite coach. Source: Pro Football Talk

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:04pm

Hearty happy monday morning eagles fans! When you are a hugely invested fan and your favorite team wins the superbowl - it is a truly amazing feeling. It carries throughout the offseason.

I know every franchise that hasn't had a superbowl deserves one, but the eagles were probably first in line. Unlike the Browns or Bengals or Lions, the Eagles are a professional organization that did so many things well for such a long time.

Next in line would be...Buffalo? Carolina?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:19pm

It has to be Minnesota. Buffalo, outside of the 90s run, seems invariably mediocre. Minnesota is often good enough to give their fans hope, which is then brutally crushed. No team destroys their fans like the Minnesota Vikings.

Carolina hasn't been around long enough to qualify.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:23pm

At .546, the Vikings have the highest all time winning percentage (6th best of all teams) of teams that have not won a Super Bowl. The Eagles all time winning percentage is .489, 21st best. The next best team, in relation to the Northern Heartbreakers, is Carolina at .499, 17th best.

Do not cheat we Viking fans out our unique feeling of persecution!

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:01pm

It is unique; the Vikings lost 4 of the first 11 Super Bowls. Since then, they've played in I think six separate conference championship games, and lost every one of them.

The Vikings deserve to have a unique feeling of persecution. It's well-earned.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:25pm

Hey, until the Diggs miracle, I was pretty convinced the Vikings were halfway to 6 straight losses in the division or wild card round, which would have been followed by 7 straight years of missing the playoffs. I'm actually just happy that they win when they do. They have had 13 HOF players who had their biggest contributions as Vikings, which is a lot for a team that didn't begin until 1961, along with that 6th best winning percentage, so it isn't like Vikings fans have watched much really bad football.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:31pm

Yeah mea culpa - its the Vikes that are the most deserving.

One thought I've always had - would you be in favor of an open door stadium?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 6:03pm

Not if the public is picking up 500 million of the 1.2 billion price tag. I'm almost violently opposed to such handouts under any circumstances, but if the taxpayer is on the hook to that degree, you just have to have a building that can be used 365 days a year. Football wise, I think the Vikings have a slight disadvantage in cold weather playoff road games as a result of being an indoor team, but only very slight, which is offset by having a big hfa due to how loud the home field is.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:05pm

One of the outcomes of this game should be that no one ever listens to that blowhard Mike Lombardi ever again. He's a weekly guest during the season on a radio show I listen to and man is he insufferable. "Everybody knows Pederson isn't a head coach." Well, Mike, I guess everybody knows you're not a GM and that's why you're available to spout your "wisdom."

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:25pm

What a dope.

by duh :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 6:01pm

He also picked the Eagles to win and said their offense was a terrible matchup for the Patriots defense which turned out to be mighty accurate

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 6:11pm

You didn't have to be Paul Brown to think it likely that the Eagles woukd have offensive success against the Patriots.

by johonny :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 6:39pm

This site really prepared you for the fact that the Pats defense was bad this season, but a lot of people until the Super Bowl performance weren't buying that line of thinking. It's sort of a Kudos to the people that have build up this website. They get a lot of things right, but didn't get a lot of credit for seeing things in the statistic that others aren't seeing. The real question for the Pats will be can they make the moves in the off season to fix the problem. If Brady at 41 is anywhere close to Brady at 40, they don't need to be top 10 to be right back in the Championship game, but they probably can't be 31 against either.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:42am

They can be 31 and get to a SB. There's no one in the AFC with both the talent and competence to stop them.

Winning the Owl will be harder that way, though.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 6:02pm

Wait, he said that about Pedersen last week?

I know he's been anti Doug and called him basically a joke way back when, but to still hold to that after it is so obviously untrue now is stunning.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:15pm

Two big-picture takeaways from this Super Bowl:

1. Every coach should review why the Eagles won this game: Pederson was willing to take calculated risks to beat the favored team, including putting trust in his QB to execute even though Foles was a backup. The only time he failed to be aggressive was by continuing to run on 2nd and 3rd down on the Eagles last drive rather than trying to get a first down and ice the game, and fortunately the positive results from his previous aggressiveness were enough to make that last mistake irrelevant in the end.

2. The NFL has got to do something about officiating, especially with respect to what constitutes a catch. Can I say that now that the Patriots lost and griping about bad officiating is not synonymous with believing in a vast Patriots conspiracy? I still don't know if the Clement TD was a catch based on the current rule; my gut reaction is that it should have been, but there have been multiple catches overturned this season that looked more conclusive. Regarding the Ertz TD, they were correct to uphold it but if the reason was that he was a runner and did not have to maintain possession to the ground, then why did it take so long to review? You could instantly see in real time that he took several steps with the ball before leaping so I don't understand what else needed to be determined.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:35pm

The third down screen/flare that got blown up prior to the FG that made it 32-26 was a pretty conservative call, too. That's the only other instance I can think of.

by ssereb :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 9:21pm

I'm not sure it's conservative so much as it is just a poorly designed play. The receiver is put in a situation where, if he doesn't immediately evade a defender that nobody is blocking or trying to misdirect, he goes down for a big loss. There are just too many ways for the play to go wrong and not enough ways for it to go right.

by Steve B :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:31pm

Re: Possible illegal formation on the 4th and goal TD. My understanding is that Jeffrey looked over to the line judge for acknowledgement that he was lined up okay and was told that he was.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 3:47pm

In the replay it's clear that he checks with the official. This also happened in full view of the DB, so it's not like who was eligible was in doubt.

by nat :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 4:51pm

Yup. So the receiver got the advantage of a clean release because the ref let him line up in the backfield, which is against the rules. Bad reffing. But not uncommonly bad.

We can't blame the receiver, and no one does. But protecting both receivers from an immediate hit was important to the play's design. Without a clean release, the outside guy can't clear the area for Foles as reliably.

by PantsB :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:32pm

It was a blown call but blown calls happen. In a more sane world it would be enough to silence the Pats conspiracy theories that were pretty openly touted the last two months or so.

by PantsB :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:31pm

>Vince Verhei: New England allowed 41 points to a team missing its starting quarterback AND starting left tackle AND starting kicker AND third-down back.

This would be a better argument if they hadn't put up 38 while clock killing in the second half outside against the #2 DVOA/#1 weighted DVOA teams the previous game. That game had a pick 6, this had 3 points gifted on a sack fumble.

by Spoilt Victoria... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:50pm

I think you're missing the really crazy thing about the Patriots losing despite never punting. That's happened 24 times. But 21 of those times, the losing team committed more turnovers than the winning team. So the Patriots join the '92 49ers and the '78... Patriots as the only teams to lose a game in which they neither punted nor lost the turnover battle.

Certainly the best Super Bowl ever from my perspective.

by Spoilt Victoria... :: Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:54pm

It's also the first such game in which the losing team didn't attempt a greater number of field goals.

The Eagles basically won this game with clock management in place of defense.

by DavidL :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:59am

Just another in the long list of things you could say about this Super Bowl to make an Andy Reid-era Eagles fan's head explode.

by Dan_L :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:44am

I disagree with the consensus that there was no defense played in the game, and I think many people are making results oriented reactions to the high score. I saw a game where Tom Brady was being hurried almost half the time, yet still connecting on successful passing plays. A game where the Pats secondary covered Alshon Jeffery so that he could only catch a touchdown by an excellent jump ball catch. Where the Patriots were stopped on a 4th down at midfield, and then the Eagles converted a 4th and 1 pass to the third option and barely converted with forward progress. And where in the 4th quarter, the Patriots stopped the Eagles 4 minute offense, and then the Eagles made the strip sack (the one play most concede).

I think a lot of defense is doing little things to make the offenses job a little bit harder, and if the offense plays great, that still won't be enough. For me, bad defense is when you find yourself saying the quarterback or running back didn't have to work to get their gaudy stats, as they just made easy reads and plays. That wasn't the case for either team in this game.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 1:21am

There were a lot of completions to receivers without a defender within 5 yards. That's crappy defense.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:28am

There can be a lot of crappy defense and a lot of great defense by the same team in the same game. With 11 guys out there most plays probably feature great as well as terrible play

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:51am

Great defense also entails consistency. There was not great defense in that game, and it was mostly due to poor play by dbs.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:47am

It was the most prolific offensive game in NFL history.

If anything, points undersell it. Seven kicking points were left on the field. The Eagles conducted intentionally slow drives. New England had two failed Hail Marys.

If you want to assert that it was a well-defended game, then you need extreme results to justify an extreme conclusion.

by rj1 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:52am

Right. The game's score should've been 44-37 if the kickers made all their points.

For people that think the defense in the game wasn't bad, what do you think the score would've been if there was bad defense? 61-57?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:50am

I will say it again; this was a reasonably entertaining Arena Football League title game. If I have to use one word to describe that game, it's probably "silly". If you'd told me both offenses had 320+ yards in the game, I'd have considered that a solid offensive performance by both of them. They had that by the half.

It was loopy, weird, and just not well-played at all. It will undoubtedly be well-remembered by Eagles fans and people who really like seeing the Patriots lose, but I'd have to think this slides down into the very lowest tier of modern Super Bowls along with the Seahawks' dismantling of the Broncos.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:03am

Well, the offensive line play on both sides was really good. The performance by the defensive backs, however, was atrocious.

by dank067 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:40am

For my part I at least really enjoyed watching the Eagles offense. They ran so many fun, inventive plays, even apart from the trick play to Foles, they were bold on 4th down, they were near-perfect in how they paced themselves and when and where they picked their shots to the end zone.

It just made me happy to a see a team succeed so brilliantly while not being afraid to take risks and to be aggressive with spread concepts that too many people in the league still seem to actively want to fail in the NFL. Not that you expressed anything remotely resembling that, I just think we'll have a much more interesting league if more teams are willing to play like Philadelphia.

I'm really rambling now, but it makes me sad to see a team like Carolina have success running a unique offense the past few years (very different from Eagles in Super Bowl but still unique in that it was designed around QB run threat and power run game) and then decide to go with Norv—the ultimate retread.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:54am

I think the Eagles ran a couple of fun plays and were certainly aggressive, but I don't know that they were particularly inventive as much as the Patriots defenders were awful. Also, to Will's point regarding the offensive lines, yes, I think they played well, but it also seemed like there was no adjustments regarding defensive strategy from either team. The Patriots did a bit of stunting, but it basically seemed like "four guys run forward" was the basic defensive call.

The fourth down pass to Foles for the TD will rightly go down as one of the all-time great calls, but, two days later, when I think about the Super Bowl, I think about that, Tom Brady dropping his pass, the strip-sack of Brady, and then two TD passes for the Eagles that I only remember because they were questionable in at least some way and the stupid Catch Rule reared its ugly head. It's all already blended together into a long series of open receivers catching the ball and running a long ways because nobody could tackle.

by nat :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:21pm

...the stupid Catch Rule reared its ugly head...

The two TD calls, whether the refs got the call right or not, were decided on solid, common sense criteria.

Case 1:
Did he have final control with two feet in, and was his control complete enough to survive going to the ground out of bounds without having to re-establish control there? Those are good criteria, because if you can't keep complete control when you hit the ground, it wasn't very good control, was it? And if you don't get two feet in with final control, it's obviously not a catch.

Case 2:
Was he a runner with possession of the ball before he started going to the ground? That's good, because unless he's eligible to fumble before he starts going to the ground, then he didn't really have possession until he was going down, did he?

Both calls were close, and I totally get people who argue each way. But to blame the rule is just stupid. The refs knew the rules, the rules make sense, and the process of the review was correctly applied. That's true, even if I were to disagree with their final conclusions.

by GlennW :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:53pm

I think the point here is that, if Roger Goodell gets his way in cleaning up the "Catch Rule", these calls where there's a slight wobble of the football as the receiver tucks it away going to the ground (Case 1) or takes three steps after making a clean catch and then loses the football diving into the endzone (Case 2) won't even be considered "close", the touchdowns will be quickly confirmed and we'll move on with the damned game-- with little or no controversy.

Now yes, the bar still will have only been moved and not eliminated, and there will still be some controversy on less obvious catches where the loss of control is more pronounced. But at the very least, plays which had been considered catches for the hundred years or so before frame-by-frame HD instant replay came into existence will be rightfully restored as catches. Personally, I'm not one for insisting on the absolute most objective standard possible (e.g. the ball cannot touch the ground at any point after a catch) at the expense of spectacular, beautiful football plays. It's just not practical to believe that a 200+ pound player can be contacted with great force by another 200+ pound plus player and then crash to the ground without the football moving a bit or switching hands for protection thereof. As such I can live with some subjective discretion here.

by SandyRiver :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 5:19pm

It's slightly off topic, but since the above notes both QB-receiver plays, I thought I'd comment on how different the levels of difficulty were. On the Brady play, the pass was about 18" above his head, and while a decent WR probably catches that 80% of the time, QBs won't do as well. Foles had a soft pass right at his facemask, and even an average WR will catch about 98% of those.

by Dan_L :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:24pm

To be clear, I did say the defense was better than awful, not that it was great. I think there are two main points to my disagreement:

1. This was a pass heavy and fast paced game (143 plays total vs average 126). Certain offensive strategies lead to higher scoring games, and these were employed by both teams (99 pass plays). If every game included this many total plays, pass plays, and 4th down go for it decisions games would have on average higher scores. Analytically minded people don't say all defense stinks in the NBA today, they say the game is faster paced and teams optimized offensive plays for high scoring. I think we saw the same thing in the Super Bowl.

2. There needs to be a way to evaluate defense based only on what it does. For instance the eagles hurried Brady on 19 out of 49 plays, this is more than New England normally allows to hurry Brady. It is easy to imagine a team with a worse offensive line and less effective quarterback giving up 7 sacks in such a game, and the Eagles could have the same holes in their coverage in such a game. If you watch bad football teams you've seen plenty of games like this. I believe that really would be a similar performance to what the Eagles had, and yet the scoreboard evaluation would be that their Super Bowl was an awful game, and my hypothetical was a good to great one. The same idea applied to the opposite side of the ball, I do not believe the Eagles had slow drives by choice as you suggest, and that makes a big difference in how you would grade the Patriots defense.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:57pm

A good way to let the opponent run 70 plays is to blow assignments and not have anyone within 5 yards of an eligible receiver, and/or miss tackles. It's one thing to yield huge amounts of yards, first downs, and points, when an offense is simply operating at a high level, with pace, and the defense just can't quite get there. That's actually a decent description of the defensive lines in this game, competing against o-lines that were functioning at a high level. It's another to yield those things when you aren't even close to executing your assignments, which is a fair way to describe the performance of the defensive backfields in this game.

We may not so much as disagree as much as I am breaking down the defensive performances a bit more.

by GlennW :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 1:41pm

I reviewed the game again last night. Hard as it might be to believe, I think New England played much better defense on the whole than Philadelphia did (which is not to say that it was good defense, just better). The "more than 5 yards open" observation applied much more to the Patriots' receivers than the Eagles, and all three Patriots TD receptions came against very soft coverage. I'm even willing to go so far as to say that Foles was the better player in the game than Brady, and the deserving MVP independent of the final score. (All of this is irrespective of DVOA/VOA of course. This is a more subjective observation based on the relative ease/difficulty of plays, not the overall production as reflected in the raw or advanced stats.)

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:01pm

Oh, I don't doubt it. Foles had to make some difficult throws. More of Brady's throws were really easy, sometimes, to be sure, because Brady so easily manipulated the Eagles dbs.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 3:44pm

I pretty much had the same impression - Foles made some really nice throws into tight windows - and Brady missed some pretty easy throws. On a purely physical level, Foles was the much better player.

But Brady is still ridiculous at all the little things - like looking off DBs and hiding his intentions.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 4:21pm

For all the shade thrown at Patricia, I think the Eagles defensive coaching has a helluva lot more to answer for, but they won't be asked, because the Eagles scored 41. So much for sports punditry.i

by Pat :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 5:35pm

I'm pretty darn sure I mentioned for the Minnesota game that Philly's secondary isn't great, and if you can hold off the pass rush, there'll be plays downfield open.

Didn't happen for that game, but did for the Super Bowl. I don't blame the coaches there: it's talent. Mills especially has a lot of learning to do about route recognition.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 6:56pm

Oh, I agree that db talent is the larger issue. I just thought it ironic that Patricia has been getting so much heat, while the team that never forced a punt in 11 possessions has had so little commentary about how coaching may have played a role. Coaches get immunized when their team scores more points.

by Steve B :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:42pm

I think it's funny he's been getting so much heat because 1) He wasn't the GM 2) He's not the one who decided to bench Malcolm Butler in favor of shrubs.

by MC2 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:57pm

Yeah, I agree. If anyone on the Patriots' coaching staff deserves blame, it's Belichick, for benching Butler, and doing it on such short notice.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:32pm

Philly had... 2 failed drives?

New England had 4, not counting the botched snap on the FG.

Punts are a nice talking point, but the Eagles got off the field about twice as often as New England did.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 02/07/2018 - 1:11am

When your average yardage yielded per drive is 58 yards, over 11 drives, "getting off the field" is a relative term. Yes, the Eagles eventually made a play, on the Patriots 10th possession, resulting in a 4 yard drive. Yes, a Patriots receiver slightly overthrew a wide open Brady, resulting in a 28 yard drive. Yes, two other drives of less than 50 occurred with less than a minute left in either half. This was a bad defensive performance.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 6:45pm

The Eagles issues were straightforward. The DBs were getting lost in coverage, I think that dictated what Schwartz could and could not do.

by Pat :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 10:46am

It's probably better to say that Brady was playing the DBs like a fiddle. I swear every play in the second half you saw a DB's eyes in the backfield a split second before the receiver broke to where Brady was *actually* planning on throwing it.

by jtr :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:58am

One thing that stands out to me from the Butler drama is that the Pats came into the game with only three cornerbacks on the roster. So once they benched their best corner for no reason, they were left with only two corners available, forcing them to play a safety in the slot. It seems really weird to me that they didn't have a fourth corner available, considering the NFL is predominantly a nickel package game nowadays. It's like coming into a game with only two offensive tackles or something. For comparison, the Eagles came in with four corners.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:18am

They had four on the active roster: Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, and Johnson Bademosi. Though Bademosi is primarily a special teams player, he is a capable reserve cornerback who had over 200 snaps on defense this season prior to Sunday.

I do not understand why Butler was even active, if they did not plan to use him. Surely they would have been better with Alan Branch or David Harris as rotational players in the front seven.

Of course, it is likely that they would have been even better served with their season-long starting cornerback on the field.

by jtr :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:23am

Ah, I missed Rowe when I flipped through their roster because he's listed as "DB" rather than "CB". Still waiting for it to eventually leak out that Butler was late for curfew or something. There's obviously something more beyond the "give ourselves the best chance to win" explanation that's been coming out of the Pats org, since they obviously hurt their own chances by keeping one of their better defenders off the field.

by ChrisS :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:17pm

Especially since the performance on the field by the replacement player showed this decision did NOT "give ourselves the best chance to win".

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:00pm

It didn't show anything of the sort.

Its possible Butler got benched for some sort of disciplinary thing.

Its also possible that after being in the ER on sunday, and back and forth from the hospital monday and tuesday, and being visibly sick in practice on wednesday, that he just wasn't healthy enough to play 60 minutes.

Butler is short - and has had trouble with big receivers all year. He's also been terrible every time they've put him in the slot - so they can't just shift him inside. He's a bad matchup playing the eagles. A bad matchup who is also sick is a disaster.

He was active because sick Butler is a better cornerback than David Harris.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 12:38pm

I have to think something happened or the situation escalated very close to kick-off, otherwise if he's being punished he probably gets deactivated.

To have him active and benched hurts everyone. My guess is he did something that in BBs mind warranted a 1-quarter or so benching, but then something blew up closer to kick-off he and just decided to sit him.

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 2:02pm

Butler isn't their best corner. Gilmore has been a drastically better player once he pulled his head out of his ass and got with the defensive scheme.

Butler hasn't been particularly good this year. Better than Rowe, but the difference between Rowe and Butler is smaller than the difference between Butler and Gilmore.

by MC2 :: Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:55pm

I don't think the difference between Butler and Rowe is as significant as the difference between Butler and Bademosi, since Rowe, as the nickel corner, would have been on the field a lot, even if Butler had played. Not so for Bademosi.