Somewhere the late Chuck Bednarik of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 1960 NFL Title Game champions in a victory over the Green Bay Packers on Vince Lombardi’s first and only championship game defeat in the National Football League is looking upon the 52nd World Championship Game with a wry grin. Ironically, Mr. Lombardi might have a fleering look as well because his titular title as professional football’s greatest coach was preserved thanks to tonight’s 41-33 victory by the Philadelphia Eagles over the New England Patriots.
The lore surrounding the Eagles’ 1960 team was that Bednarik purported to have told Packers FB Jim Taylor in a non-politically correct manner that he could get up now because the game is over after the final play in Philadelphia’s Franklin Field on NBC. While many people would have been shocked to have imagined that the Mean Green Machine would take approximately six decades to become world champions once again, the franchise would have to endure the ebb and flow of being in the vicinity of a title but falling short. Heck, the Philadelphia Stars (part-time tenants of Franklin Field) of the United States Football League was the only outdoor professional team to win a championship for the municipality in 1984.
Nonetheless, the Eagles versus Patriots championship became the best title game since the National Football League/American Football League merger due in part to the fact that both teams slugged it out like a heavyweight championship fight. There were numerous times in this contest where either team could have folded under the magnitude of needing to score on nearly every offensive possession.
Many observers believe the signature play of the game was made by Philadelphia during their two-minute drill when the Eagles used an exotic play from their playbook to score a touchdown on fourth and goal from the one when Trey Burton completed a touchdown pass to QB Nick Foles following a direct snap to RB Corey Clement and handoff leading to a 22-12 advantage following the PAT seconds before halftime. Head coach Doug Pederson apparently learned what other opponents save the New York Giants did not when it comes to staying aggressive against the tactician of Bill Belichick.
Although the Patriots were down at the midpoint, the five-time champions were confident that they would have ample chances to win in the second half, and that fact was proven throughout. Aside from New England’s TE Rob Gronkowski, the remainder of the receiving corps is filled with a myriad of diminutive slyboots who does not often get credited for being the quality athletes that they are. QB Tom Brady managed to make completions time after time in open gaps in the zones of the Eagles’ defense when the pass rush faltered.
In general, the mettlesome Philadelphia Eagles were able to overcome the perception that most of the nation along with the media did not believe in them and favored the Patriots under extreme pressure to win at all cost. This is why defensive end Chris Long’s objurgation of the media was merited because it seems as if some members have inadvertently become a part of the inner sanctum of the New England Patriots’ dynasty.
Nevertheless, the denouement of the 52nd World Championship of Professional Football culminated on a defensive play by the Eagles when Brandon Graham sacked Brady causing a fumble that was recovered by Derek Barnett, which led to a successful scoring drive and a 46-yard field goal by Jake Elliott leading to a 41-33 final. The manner in which the game was played to that point did not lead must fans to believe that a significant defensive play would forthcoming.
During the postgame analysis, a well-respected analyst Mike Florio made an error in his promulgation that if all games were played in this hectic pace all season that there would never have been a slight decline in television ratings, but this just conjecture at its worst. Americans are more intelligent than this; we are fully capable of appreciating a defensive stalemate on occasion.
Sports fans were not in favor of the inferior play in some of the contests during the 2017 season with all of the ineffective play calling and underwhelming play overall where people felt that the outcome was already determined. Plus, tonight’s title game was an anomaly because the NFL’s two best teams were competing in the premier winner takes all format. Besides, if football fans were so enamored with passing the football up and down the field without punting, Arena Football would be all the rage these days. Selah