Washington - Defending
champions, the New England Patriots, booked a third Super Bowl trip in four seasons
on Sunday, edging Jacksonville 24-20 to reach an NFL championship showdown
against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady's two fourth-quarter
touchdown passes rallied the Patriots into Super Bowl 52 against an
Eagles squad that routed Minnesota 38-7, humbling the Vikings' top-rated
The Patriots boosted their record of Super Bowl appearances to 10 and
could match Pittsburgh's record six Super Bowl triumphs on February 4
at Minneapolis, Minnesota.
"It's pretty crazy," Brady said. "It's pretty amazing to be on a team that wins these kind of games. It's so great."
Nick Foles, who took over as Philadelphia's quarterback last month
after an injury to Carson Wentz, completed 26-of-33 passes for 352 yards
and three touchdowns as the underdog Eagles humiliated the visitors.
"This moment, it's unbelievable. It's humbling," Foles said.
team was amazing. I'm a little speechless. It's amazing soaking this all
in. We all believe in each other. Everyone was against us. We came in
here and came out with an amazing victory."
It will be a rematch of Super Bowl 39 from 2005, when Brady threw two
touchdown passes and the Patriots won 24-21 for their third title in
four seasons, equal to the same run they could complete in two weeks.
"Now we have to go to Minnesota and finish the job," said Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
The Eagles, whose two Super Bowl defeats also include 1981, last won an NFL title in 1960 before the Super Bowl era began.
Brady, who needed stitches for a right hand injury suffered Wednesday
in practice, lost his favourite target, tight end Rob Gronkowski, to a
But the 40-year-old quarterback completed 26-of-38 passes for 290 yards, 138 of them in the fourth quarter.
"We said whatever it takes," Brady said. "That was a great second half. Just so proud of our team. Amazing."
Brady finally addressed the Wednesday cut to his throwing hand that become a major pre-game concern.
"It was just a pretty good cut. I dealt with it the best I could," Brady said.
"I've had a lot worse. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were a little
scary. I gained some confidence on Saturday and we did just enough to
New England pulled within 20-17 on Brady's 9-yard touchdown pass to
Danny Amendola with 8:44 remaining. Amendola returned a punt 20 yards to
the Jaguars' 30-yard line, then made a diving catch and three plays
later leaped high and made an acrobatic tiptoe landing for a 4-yard
touchdown reception to create the final margin.
"It means a lot. We worked so hard for this," said Amendola, who caught seven passes for 84 yards.
New England's Stephon Gilmore batted down a fourth-down pass to halt the last Jaguars' drive.
"We've got a lot of guys that fight and never give up, that know how
to play situational football," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "I'm
really proud of these guys."
Foles proved he can deliver in big games to doubters that wrote off the Eagles when Wentz went down.
"I'm so happy for Nick," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "For
everything he has been through and battled he has stayed true and stayed
the course. We all believed in him."
Case Keenum's 25-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph opened the
scoring for Minnesota, but Patrick Robinson returned an intercepted
Keenum pass 50 yards for a touchdown to equalize at 7-7.
Former Patriot rusher LeGarrette Blount ran 11 yards for an Eagles
touchdown and Foles followed with touchdown passes of 53 and five yards
to Alshon Jeffery and 41 yards to Torrey Smith.
Eagles defensive end Chris Long, who played on New England's 2017
Super Bowl champions, said they expected to shut down Minnesota.
"We're not surprised at all," Long said. "We just keep grinding."
The Vikings, whose last Super Bowl was in 1977, would have been the
first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Dome-based teams
fell to 0-13 in outdoor conference championship contests.