|3:30 PM PT4:30 PM MT5:30 PM CT6:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST5:30 PM CT3:30 UAE (+1)18:30 ETNaN:� , February 4, 2018|
U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota Attendance: 67,612
Eagles' rush could be key vs. Patriots' Brady
Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots
- The Philadelphia Eagles trounced the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7, in the NFC Championship Game, advancing to the third Super Bowl in franchise history (lost to Raiders in Super Bowl XV and to Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX). The 31-point victory over the Vikings was the Eagles' largest in any postseason game all-time.
- The New England Patriots rallied from 10 points down to score a 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game, advancing to an NFL-record 10th Super Bowl. With a win on Sunday, the Pats will tie the Steelers for the most Super Bowl victories all-time (6).
- Including last year's Super Bowl versus the Falcons, the Patriots have been behind by at least seven points in each of their last three postseason contests, and have come back to emerge victorious in all three games.
- This game is a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX won by the Patriots, 24-21, at ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville. L.J. Smith opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown catch from Donovan McNabb in the second quarter, but New England outscored Philadelphia 24-14 in the last 16-plus minutes of the game, earning Bill Belichick his third NFL title as Patriots' head coach.
- The last two teams to win the Super Bowl with a different starting QB in Week 1 than in the Super Bowl were the 2001 Patriots (Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady) and 2016 Patriots (Jimmy Garoppolo/Tom Brady). The Eagles will attempt to do the same on Sunday (Carson Wentz/Nick Foles).
- The Patriots have failed to score a single first-quarter point in seven Super Bowls with Tom Brady at quarterback (outscored 15-0). Philadelphia has outscored its opponents 113-58 (+55) in the first quarter this year -- the best point differential in the NFL (including postseason).
- In the fourth quarter/overtime of his last two Super Bowls, Tom Brady has completed 81.0 percent of his passes for 370 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, a 127.2 passer rating and a game-winning drive for the Patriots in each game. In each of the Patriots' five Super Bowl wins to date, Brady led the team on a drive that culminated with the decisive points being scored in the fourth quarter or OT.
- Nick Foles has 24 combined regular and postseason victories as an NFL starting quarterback (24-18 record). Tom Brady has an NFL-record 27 career postseason wins (27-9 record).
- Zach Ertz (74 for 824 yards) and Rob Gronkowski (69 for 1084 yards) both led their teams in receptions and receiving yards during the 2017 regular season. This will be the first Super Bowl matchup all-time in which both clubs' leading receivers during the regular season were tight ends.
- Tom Brady has 15 career touchdown passes in his seven previous Super Bowls, while all other active NFL quarterbacks have combined for 20 touchdown passes in the Super Bowl. At 40 years and 185 days old on Sunday, Brady will be the oldest non-kicker/punter to ever participate in the Super Bowl.
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Neither New England nor Philadelphia is a tropical paradise, so for the Patriots and Eagles, the Minnesota winter weather has been pretty normal for them. That's a good thing as both teams head into their Super Bowl LII meeting on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium trying to treat it like just another 60-minute game.
After the media circus they endured Monday in St. Paul, the players for both the Patriots (15-3) and the Eagles (15-3) welcomed the opportunity to get back to some semblance of normal game week preparation and to focus on the football, even if it's in a new place.
"We've got to go out and practice and kind of get away from the madness," said Philadelphia defensive end Fletcher Cox on Wednesday after the Eagles practiced at the University of Minnesota. "I just treat it as a regular game week. Things I would do at the facility, I'm doing here."
One thing the Eagles did successfully at home and on the road all season was pressure the opponent's quarterback, and when the Patriots have faltered in two Super Bowl losses to the Giants in the past decade, a relentless pass rush has contributed. But the highly touted Eagles defense, which did not allow a point after the Vikings' opening drive of the NFC title game, is wary about putting too much of their attention on Patriots star Tom Brady.
"It's Tom plus 10 guys on the field. We can't just focus on one guy, if we're going to be real about it," Cox said. "I think we have to focus on their whole offense, because they've got a lot of great players. We have to go out and be ourselves. We've got to go out and do the little things right and not beat ourselves in order to be victorious."
New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the second half of the AFC title game win over Jacksonville due to a concussion, is slated to play.
"Rob's a tough guy. Obviously, this isn't something you can just fight through," said Brady.
While the Patriots offense has revolved around Brady since their first Super Bowl win in 2002, the defense has been one of constant evolution, and the unit adopted yet another new look late in the regular season when linebacker James Harrison came on board after he was jettisoned by the Steelers.
"When you're in a system for as long as he's been, there are a lot of things that are habits that get ingrained, which they should be. Some of those things carry over. Some of them kind of don't," Belichick said of Harrison, who has played 178 of his 193 NFL regular-season games for Pittsburgh. "He's done a great job of trying to separate them and do what we've asked him to do."
While the Eagles will be looking for the franchise's first Super Bowl title, having lost the big game after the 1980 and 2004 seasons, there may be more pressure on the Patriots, who will be seeking their sixth title and their second in a row, knowing that the coaching staff will look significantly different next season. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are both widely expected to be head coaches in Indianapolis and Detroit, respectively, next season.
"I realize and I understand and I appreciate the talent in the coaches in our building. I'm grateful for the opportunity to even be coached by them," said Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, sounding very much like he was saying goodbye. "Whatever their opportunities are in the future, I'll be excited for them."
There's one more opportunity for them on Sunday. And it sounds plenty exciting.
Updated February 4, 2018