Zach Ertz’s game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LII will be remembered long after his playing days are over.
However, there were many other notable plays on the 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive that put Philadelphia in position to take the lead for good, and has been the case for Philadelphia’s quarterbacks all season long, when the game was on the line, No. 86 was in the crosshairs.
While they may not be remembered like Ertz’s touchdown, Brandon Graham’s strip-sack, or the “Philly Special” just before halftime, the following plays helped the Eagles move the chains and eat up over seven minutes off the clock, which undoubtedly placed added pressure on the Patriots’ offense when they took over down 38-33.
The drive began with 9:22 remaining and the Eagles nearly ran the clock down to the two-minute warning, however, what turned out to be the drive of the night nearly became a harmless three-and-out.
3rd & 6 PHI 29: Nick Foles Pass to Zach Ertz for 7 Yards (8:35-4th)
After starting the drive with a four-yard carry and an incompletion, the Eagles were facing a third-and-six from well inside their own territory. While a punt here wouldn’t have doomed the team, giving Tom Brady the ball back with the lead in the Super Bowl is a formula for disaster. With their backs against the wall, the Eagles lined up in a tight bunch formation. Ertz ran a trail route behind Alshon Jeffery’s shallow drag and found just enough space to pick up the first-down yardage and spark the drive.
4th & 1 PHI 45: Nick Foles Pass to Zach Ertz for 2 Yards (5:39-4th)
On their next set of downs, the Eagles faced an even more crucial conversion. After nearly three more minutes had bled off the clock, the Eagles failed to convert on third-and-one from their own 45-yard line. Doug Pederson was forced to make a difficult decision, and as he had shown all season, he trusted his guys. He left the offense out on the field to pick up the one yard to gain. If they failed, their Super Bowl hopes would be hanging on by a thread. Pederson dialed up a play that had worked for them out of various formations all game long. They ran a mesh concept with Ertz and Brent Celek, the perfect play to combat the man coverage of the Patriots. Devin McCourty collided with Celek, clearing enough space for Ertz to make the first-down grab.
2nd & 9 PHI 48: Nick Foles Pass to Nelson Agholor for 10 Yards (4:11-4th)
After the fourth-down conversion, the Eagles’ offense found a rhythm. Foles found Nelson Agholor on three consecutive plays to push the ball deep into New England territory. The first connection came on a second-and-nine from the Philadelphia 48-yard-line and Agholor brought the ball into Patriots’ territory of the field. On the next play, Foles found Agholor for 18 more yards to bring the Eagles down to the 24-yard line. Then, Foles and Agholor linked up a third consecutive play to put the Eagles in the red zone and set up the score.
3rd & 7 NE 11: Nick Foles Pass to Zach Ertz for 11 Yards for a TD (2:21-4th)
In the red zone, Ertz had thrived all season long. Foles knew he had the matchup he wanted on the outside with McCourty on Ertz in man coverage. We all know how it ended. Ertz broke inside on a slant, evaded McCourty and dove for the goal line. This play capped off the drive in impressive fashion, but it couldn’t have happened if not for all the plays that preceded it.
And of course, it wouldn’t be the game-winning touchdown if the defense didn’t stand tall over the final 2:21 of the game.
Brandon Graham’s strip-sack led to an extra three points for the Eagles, making it an eight-point game rather than a vulnerable five-point margin. And when the defense made its final appearance of the season, they kept the Patriots’ Hail Mary prayers from being answered, batting down their last-second heave to the end zone.