52 things we learned from Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl LII

SportsPulse: NFL insider Jarrett Bell examines what's next for Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the ticking clock on the New England Patriots' dynasty after a devastating Super Bowl loss. USA TODAY

MINNEAPOLIS - The 52 things we learned from a classic Super Bowl LII between the Eagles and Patriots:

1. If you're not a native of Minnesota, you quickly learn to respect the cold as your nasal hairs freeze and tears created by the wind harden onto your face.

2. But Minny did a great job hosting the big game, both from a hospitality standpoint and an efficient set-up that was rarely impacted by weather that often skewed sub-zero.

3. "The city of Philadelphia deserved this." Eagles TE Zach Ertz said this after his team's momentous victory. But it was a common refrain among Philly players, who, to a man, were thrilled to be part of the team that finally brought the Lombardi Trophy home to the City of Brotherly Love, which last enjoyed an NFL championship in 1960 (six years before Super Bowl I). Eagles players also joked that they hoped Philly would still be in one piece by the time they return to join the celebration with notorious fans they really seem to love.

4. The Eagles became the last team in the NFC East to win the Super Bowl, but the NFL's glamour division is also now the first where all four teams own Lombardi Trophies. (The Cowboys, Giants and Redskins have combined for 12.) And one final time, we must laud WR Alshon Jeffery for predicting this 13 months ago — "I guarantee you we are going to win the Super Bowl next year" — when he was still wearing a Bears uniform.

5. Let's discuss Eagles QB Nick Foles, Super Bowl LII's MVP. And let's start with a spirited conversation among Philadelphia media members after the game, some suggesting that Foles is now the greatest quarterback in Eagles history. Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb supporters will bristle (and make their cases) ... but you can see where this is going.

6. Tom Brady's career playoff rating is 90.9. Foles' is 113.2.

7. Nick Foles' hands > Tom Brady's hands.

8. Foles became the first player to throw for a TD and catch one — the play was called "Philly Special" — in a Super Bowl. Really nice acting job by Foles, too, selling the play fake as TE Trey Burton, who was recruited by the Florida Gators as a quarterback, lofted the pass.

9. "Nick's an awesome ultimate Frisbee player, so you know he's got great hands." — Eagles WR Nelson Agholor

10. In fairness, Brady had a pair of catches for 59 yards the other two times he was targeted in his career. Unfortunately, when it really counted ...

11. Foles has started and won one Super Bowl. The rest of the vaunted 2012 quarterback draft class has started two Super Bowls and won one, both courtesy of Russell Wilson. (Yes, Brock Osweiler does have a ring. But Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins — zippo.)

12. Given the disservice Jeff Fisher's Rams offense was to Foles (and Jared Goff ... and Case Keenum), it sure seems reasonable that another team would be willing to give Foles, who was one year left on his deal, a shot to be their franchise quarterback. Not too many bona fide 29-year-old Super Bowl MVPs stuck in backup jobs.

13. Poor Carson Wentz. Dude, you were just re-setting the bar for Philly QB play, and then it gets pushed up a few rungs while you're in injury rehab. For your own sake, please win a Super Bowl in the next three years ... or you know you'll never hear the end of it.

14. Trivia nugget, because chances are good you didn't know: Foles' backup Sunday was Nate Sudfeld. Hoosier.

15. Did the Super Bowl's kickers think they were kicking in minus-7 degree weather? Did Stephen Gostkowski and Jake Elliott just miss the warm climates of Memphis, where both went to college? How else to explain each missing an extra point indoors and Gostkowski's 26-yard field-goal try off the upright? (OK, Joe Cardona's poor snap explains Gostkowski's FG miss.)

16. The Eagles also missed a pair of two-point conversions. So that adds up to a Super Bowl-record four failed PAT attempts between the teams.

17. Eagles coach Doug Pederson almost got burned chasing that missed extra point over the course of the night. But he's got some brass ones, right? The TD pass from Burton to Foles on fourth-and-goal. Going for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 45 with 5:39 to go and trailing by one. Brass ones.

18. Who had the best seat in the house for Super Bowl LII? We'd say Pats P Ryan Allen ... who never had to punt. Philly's Donnie Jones was a workhorse by comparison (1 punt).

19. Nice that America finally got to see underappreciated Eagles DE Brandon Graham in action. Sure, it was a mostly ugly night for Philadelphia's D, but his strip sack of Brady was the play of the game. For a guy who's such a dominant player, he doesn't always show up in the box score like he did Sunday night. "I'm glad I don't have to block him in actual games," said Ertz, "because he's impossible to block." 

20. Also, Wolverine on Wolverine crime is fun, right, Brandon?

21. But speaking of "defense," the Eagles and Patriots combined for 1,151 yards — most in any game. Any game. Ever.

22. Graham's sack was the only one registered in Super Bowl LII. Quite amazing given the teams combined for 94 dropbacks.

23. Eagles DE Chris Long has a tremendous collection of tattoos. It'll be tough to find more canvas space to commemorate a win he said was more meaningful to him than anything aside from his wedding and the birth of his son.

24. Do not bring your silly Super Bowl media night questions to Philadelphia DT Fletcher Cox. We're talking to you, Guillermo. #Kimmel

25. Want to hang out with the "cool" kids during Super Bowl week? You better fork over $1,000 or more for some trendy Canada Goose gear.

26. In the span of just three years, CB Malcolm Butler went from Super Bowl XLIX hero to Super Bowl LII malcontent after Patriots coach Bill Belichick opted not to give him a single defensive snap in what was surely Butler's final game for New England. He told ESPN afterward, “They gave up on me." He later added: "I could have changed that game.”

27. Long on his former teammate: "Malcolm Butler didn't play? That's tough, man. He's a helluva player."

28. James White was our favorite Patriots interview during Super Bowl week. Humble star. And now, along with Roger Craig, one of two players in Super Sunday history with multiple rushing TDs and multiple receiving TDs.

29. Be interesting to see if White finally gets a shot to be the man in 2018 with fellow New England RBs Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis headed for free agency.

30. So this whole "Not Done" mantra from the Patriots ... Are they done now? We're a little confused. Seems they're done.

31. Poor David Harris. The longtime Jets linebacker was all set to join Darrelle Revis as a former Gang Green mainstay who wound up winning a ring as a ringer for New England. Alas, Harris was inactive (again) Sunday and still without bling on Monday.

32. But several long-suffering Eagles will get rings, even if it's not how they envisioned. So will Wentz, who's only been suffering since his last championship run at North Dakota State (2015).

33. "(Carson) laid the foundation for this team," said Ertz. "We lost so many guys throughout this journey. Jason Peters is now a Super Bowl champion. Darren Sproles is now Super Bowl champion. Jordan Hicks, (Chris) Maragos. All these guys that were starters on this team. I mean Sproles and Peters are Hall of Famers. ... Carson gave us that confidence every time we stepped on the field from the beginning of the season —we weren't gonna lose. Every time we stepped on the field, that's what we expected."

34. The Eagles became the 20th NFL franchise to win the Super Bowl. That leaves 12 clubs without Lombardi Trophies and four (Browns, Lions, Jags, Texans) still awaiting a maiden Super Sunday voyage.

35. The Barenaked Ladies once asked "If I had a million dollars" ... if we did, we'd have laid it all on the Eagles.

36. The Patriots scored three first-quarter points in Super Bowl LII. It was the first time they'd scored in the opening period of the eight Super Bowls they'd reached in the Brady/Belichick era.

37. Chris Long and LeGarrette Blount became the first players since Deion Sanders in 1995 to leave a Super Bowl winner in the offseason, but win it again the following year with a new team. "We just make good decisions, me and LG," quipped Long.

38. Blount ceded a lot of touches to Jay Ajayi after the latter's midseason trade from Miami. But Blount started Sunday and finished with a game-high 90 rushing yards, a nice way to head back into the free agent pool.

39. Nice to read about Gisele comforting her kids while spreading a little Lombardi love to Philly ... but we kinda hope she ripped her husband. Wes Welker hopes so anyway, probably Amendola, too — though he probably led Brady and his 5.3-second 40 time a bit too much.

40. And now we reach the end of Tom Brady's famed 40-year-old season, when he became the first player at that age to start a Super Bowl and first to win league MVP honors.

41. During his 17 years as the Patriots' starter, this is the only season that Brady has begun and ended with a loss. Summing up Sunday night, he said: "It sucks."

42. Brady's 505 passing yards Sunday were the most ever in a Super Bowl, his latest Super Sunday record.

43. It was the most yards he'd every thrown for and lost. Brady is now 10-2 in his career when he passes for more than 400 yards.

44. Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski have hooked up for 12 playoff TDs, matching Joe Montana and Jerry Rice's postseason mark.

45. Be a shame if Gronk decides it's time to walk away, though understandable given all his body's been through. He is under contract for two more seasons.

46. Gronkowski (116) was one of three Patriots to exceed 100 receiving yards Sunday. Danny Amendola had 152 and Chris Hogan had 128.

47. We're thinking the Pats will rue just getting Gronk the ball one time (for 9 yards) in the first half Sunday.

48. Upon further review, was Alberto Riveron unusually gun-shy Sunday night? We're not complaining.

49. FWIW ... the Patriots were penalized once. The Eagles were flagged six times.

50. Kudos to the Hall of Fame committee for putting personality differences aside and choosing to enshrine worthy candidates Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.

51. Kudos to Moss for embracing and respecting the process, unlike the other guy.

52. How cool that Ray Lewis, No. 52, was the headliner of the Canton class revealed before Super Bowl LII.

LII: Thanks, Chris D'Amico. Hoping  you were able to enjoy this wherever you are.

***

Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

© 2018 USATODAY.COM


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