Route to the Super Bowl: How Patriots and Eagles made it this far
Who’s destined for glory in Minneapolis?
It’s the experienced greats against the talented new kids on the block in Super Bowl LII.
New England Patriots have won two of the last three – including a dramatic victory over Atlanta Falcons last year. As for Philadelphia Eagles, this is their first appearance in 13 years.
Ahead of the showdown at Minnesota Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium, the Coral News Team take a look at how each side made it to this year’s showpiece…
New England Patriots
In the end, Bill Belichick’s Pats cruised to the AFC East title with a stellar 13-3 record. But it didn’t always look like it would be that easy.
The Foxboro side lost two of their first four games, with Kansas City Chiefs blowing them away at Gillette Stadium. But as they always seem to, the Patriots recovered their footing.
The turning point came in Week Six. 14-0 down away to the New York Jets, the New England offence rallied to secure a hard-fought 24-17 win. They followed that up with 10 victories in 11 games, including a 41-16 demolition of Denver Broncos.
40-year-old Quarterback Tom Brady incredibly finished the season with the NFL’s top passing yards, chalking up 4577. Many of those were collected by the similarly impressive Rob Gronkowski at Tight End.
Tennessee Titans deserve great credit for reaching the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. But in the end, they were no match for the Pats.
This time the defence were the real stars, setting a club playoff record by sacking the Titans QB eight times. In the end, the Patriots ran out easy winners with a 35-14 scoreline, with running back James White scoring two Touchdowns.
AFC Championship Playoff:
During the Belichick era, the Patriots have become synonymous with a never-say-die attitude. And they showed that once again when they faced Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jags dominated much of the game, and were 20-10 ahead with less than nine minutes left in the final quarter.
Step forward Danny Amendola. Having failed to produce a TD all season, the 32-year-old caught short passes from Brady, making it into the End Zone twice and securing a 24-20 win.
Philly ended the regular season with a virtually identical record to their Super Bowl opponents. Not only were they 13-3, they scored 457 points (to the Pats 458), and conceded 295 (296 for New England).
Especially strong on their own patch, the Eagles won their first seven home games, with QB Carson Wentz in inspired form. Particularly impressive was the 25-year-old’s display against Arizona Cardinals, throwing for 304 yards and four TDs.
While their defence took a few games to get into gear, they eventually kept five opponents to 10 points or less during the regular season. That included a hugely impressive 37-9 win in Dallas, giving up zero Touchdowns to the Cowboys.
However, disaster seemingly struck in Week 14. An ACL injury left Wentz out for the season, souring a thrilling 43-34 victory of the Los Angeles Rams. But the Eagles refused to crumble without him…
One of the tightest and tensest playoff games in recent years, the Eagles edged out Atlanta Falcons by 15-10, with high drama right to the end.
10-9 down after the second quarter, Philadelphia led 15-10 in the fourth. But their playoff hopes hung by a thread as Atlanta raged upfield in the final moments of the last quarter.
At 4th & Goal in the final minute, Falcons QB Matt Ryan aimed a pass to receiver Julio Jones in the End Zone. It seemed to be all over for the Eagles – but the 28-year-old somehow let the pass slip through his fingers. Cue wild celebrations in Philly.
NFC Championship Playoff:
If the victory over Atlanta was a nerve-shredding one for Head Coach Doug Pederson, the Championship victory over Minnesota Vikings was about as relaxed as they come.
Nick Foles produced a super display at QB, completing a spectacular 53-yard-pass for Alshon Jeffrey’s Touchdown. That was the icing on the cake in a game where the Eagles shrugged off a talented Vikings side in imperious fashion, winning 38-7.
The question now is who will prevail in Sunday’s showdown?
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