How the Eagles beat the Patriots at their own game, and why the upset was historic

How the Eagles beat the Patriots at their own game, and why the upset was historic


Bill Barnwell/ESPN Staff Writer

To pull off their Super Bowl upset Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles out-Patriots-ed the New England Patriots. The stories we all know by heart about the Patriots are the ones we’re telling about the Eagles this morning. How they’re never out of any game, even if they’re missing a star player. How they come up with critical plays at the exact moment they need one. How they leverage a coaching advantage by taking risks the other team is afraid to take.

The Eagles won a shootout Sunday night by slipping off their underdog masks and playing like they had nothing to lose.

The Patriots weren’t out-schemed. They weren’t overwhelmed by a dominant defensive line, as they were during their Super Bowl defeats against the New York Giants. They were out-executed. Bill Belichick’s team made sloppy mistakes throughout the game and left the door open just wide enough for the Eagles to fly on in. For a team whose mantra is famously “Do your job” — one that relies on a nearly mechanical emphasis and focus upon getting the little things right — the Patriots were napping at work far too frequently to win.

Doug Pederson’s team didn’t win the Super Bowl as a result of the Patriots’ mistakes; the Eagles won because they executed in many of the exact ways in which the Patriots specifically struggled. Philadelphia didn’t play a perfect game, but it was far more consistent and made critical plays far more frequently than the Patriots.