For the New England Patriots, it was the standard Super Bowl victory. The teams battled back and forth in a game that was decided in the final minute with the Patriots coming up victorious in the end.
With a 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Patriots won their second Super Bowl in a row and their third title in four years, cementing themselves as the first NFL dynasty in the 21st century.
Though they weren’t able to cover the seven-point spread, the Patriots made the right plays at the right times to get the win. The game started out as a defensive struggle with both teams looking a little nervous. Philadelphia was able to strike first in the second quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to tight end L.J. Smith. New England answered back minutes later with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to wide receiver David Givens. The game was tied at 7 at halftime, the first time in Super Bowl history that the game has been tied going into the break.
On the opening drive of the second half, New England came out attacking. Brady executed an impressive 9-play, 79-yard drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown catch by defensive linebacker Mike Vrabel. This was Vrabel’s second consecutive Super Bowl with a touchdown reception and fifth touchdown reception of his career.
McNabb and the Eagles put on an impressive drive of their own, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Brian Westbrook. The game was tied at 14 going into the fourth quarter.
The Patriots were finally able to establish their running game, pounding the ball to former Cincinnati Bengal Corey Dillon and backup Kevin Faulk. It was Dillon who put the Patriots back on top with a 2-yard touchdown run with 13:44 remaining in the game. A 22-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri extended the lead to 24-14 with 8:40 left to play.
New England looked absolutely dominant on offense in the second half scoring on four out of five possessions, but the Eagles continued to hang in. Despite poor clock management late in the game, McNabb was able to convert a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Glen Lewis with 1:48 to play in the game. The Eagles then tried an onside kick, but it was recovered by New England. The Patriots were unable to execute a lasting drive, and were forced to punt. Philadelphia got the ball back deep in their own territory. On third down, McNabb was intercepted by Rodney Harrison, who had two in the game, with nine seconds left. A final knee sealed the game for the Patriots, as well as their place in history.
Wide receiver Deion Branch was named MVP with a record-tying 11 receptions for 133 yards. Brady was also very efficient, completing 23 out of 33 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. His counterpart McNabb was 27 of 45 for a personal playoff best 356 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw three costly interceptions.
Dillon finished with a respectable 75 yards rushing and a touchdown, but perhaps the most impressive performance of the night went to Eagles’ wide receiver Terrell Owens. Owens, who started despite having major surgery on his ankle six weeks ago, caught nine passes for 122 yards.
The Patriots cap off a dream season for the New England area, which is still celebrating the Red Sox victory of a few months ago, and left the city of Philadelphia still without a major sports title win in over two decades.