MINNEAPOLIS – Here are my five takes from the Philadelphia Eagles' stunning, 41-33 upset victory against the New England Patriots Sunday:
1. How the heck does Nick Foles go from Super Bowl MVP to his previous status as the backup to Carson Wentz?
In the days leading up to the game, Foles said that going back to being an understudy was something he was fully prepared to do. He recognized that Wentz was having a spectacular season, one worthy of strong MVP consideration, before his year ended with a knee injury on Dec. 10 against the Los Angeles Rams. He understood that Wentz was expected to fully recover and become the starter again. And he pointed out that he still has one season left on a two-year contract.
Foles is genuinely a team-oriented player and a man of deep faith. You don't doubt him when he said he is willing to continue to provide all of the support he can for Wentz.
But, really, now?
How on earth could Foles be expected to accept anything less than a No. 1 spot after going almost pass-for-pass in a classic shootout against the great Tom Brady … and winning? The guy not only threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns, he also caught a TD pass.
Surely, the Eagles, at the very least, have to look at their quarterback situation differently than they did before Foles took over. At the very least, they would have to give serious thought to taking advantage of the asset that Foles gives them and work a trade with one of multiple quarterback-needy teams.
Say, for instance, the Buffalo Bills?
2. So much for all of that Tom Brady, at 40, looking like he's at the end of the line.
End of the line?
Based on his performance, Brady seems very much at the beginning of that line. He threw for a Super Bowl-record 505 yards and three touchdowns. He was as sharp as ever and nearly pulled out a game that was still there for the taking in the final seconds.
Brady has nothing left to prove. He was the NFL's MVP. He has five Super Bowl rings. Yet, the man loves challenges. And, perhaps, after losing in his eighth appearance in the big game, he'll be driven to try to get back a ninth time.
The Bills and the rest of the league hope that won't be the case, but Brady certainly didn't seem as if he was too old to keep playing. He takes incredible care of his body and doesn't seem to have lost an ounce of the same hunger he had when he hoisted that first Vince Lombardi Trophy.
3. This game, with the teams combining for a Super Bowl-record 1,151 yards, wasn't exactly a great endorsement for the coaching future of either defensive coordinator.
Matt Patricia of the Patriots is going to be the next head coach of the Detroit Lions.
His resume will show that, in his final game with the Patriots, his defense allowed 538 yards. It will show that Foles, a backup until the final two weeks of the regular season, threw for nearly 400 yards and was part of four touchdowns … including one he scored on a catch that had Patricia and his defense thoroughly baffled.
I think it's a safe bet that more than a few Lions fans did some eye-rolling.
The bottom line is that both defenses were atrocious. In a game that saw only one point, there was almost no point where it seemed either team was capable of making a stop when it counted.
Jim Schwartz, the Eagles' defensive coordinator, couldn't get so much as a sniff in the latest round of NFL head-coaching hiring despite having the NFL's fourth-ranked defense in yards allowed and the top D against the pass. What happened in the Super Bowl isn't likely to make him much more attractive for the next round.
Although the Eagles prevented the Patriots from scoring in the final seconds, with Brady's desperation throw for Rob Gronkowski in the end zone fell incomplete, it's hard to give their D even the tiniest bit of credit after giving up 613 yards and allowing Brady to make history with his passing.
4. Chris Hogan reminded the Bills of what they have been missing.
The receiver the Bills didn't think was good enough to keep when he became a restricted free agent after the 2015 season was a dynamic force in an epic display of offense in the Super Bowl. He finished with six catches for 128 yards (an average of 21.3 yards per catch) and a touchdown. He was one of three Patriot receivers with 100 receiving yards; Danny Amendola (152) and Rob Gronkowski (116) were the others.
Hogan supposedly wasn't fast enough for former Bills General Manager Doug Whaley or former Bills coach Rex Ryan. He looked plenty fast Sunday, consistently getting behind defenders and finding openings in coverage.
Hogan is more than a solid contributor on a strong team. He is an ideal fit in an offense that makes great use of him on a variety of routes, including deep ones.
As the Bills continue to have a crying need for pass-catching help, the Super Bowl should have served as a painful reminder about one of a few that they allowed to get away.
5. The NFL needed this Super Bowl in a big way.
After a year with so much strife, with declining television ratings and players protesting during the national anthem and repeated confusion over what constitutes a catch, the league got a huge win in its showcase event.
This Super Bowl had the primary ingredient to attract and keep viewers: scoring, scoring and more scoring. The game's back-and-forth nature was incredibly entertaining. It was fast-paced and dramatic. Even the review of Zach Ertz's decisive touchdown catch, where the ball left his hand after he broke the plane, was done quickly enough not to create a disruption in the flow of the action.
You had Brady's typical brilliance, but you also had a new face emerge as the MVP in Foles. You had a first-time Super Bowl winner from a city that is extremely passionate about its sports teams and especially its football team.