I like a good offensive football game as well as the next guy. However, the 41-33 Super Bowl, Sunday night, felt more like a carnival ride than a football game. Defenses could neither stop a drive, nor swipe a child’s trophy goldfish. There were no bullies on this midway.
The two offenses amassed 1,151 total yards — Philadelphia had 538, New England had 613. That’s a Super Bowl record by 200 yards. It’s also the largest combined total for any NFL game, regular season or playoffs.
New England averaged 8.5 yards per play, and Philadelphia 7.6. There were 874 passing yards; Brady had a record 505 of them. Brady tied his own record by throwing 48 times without an interception.
There were 42 passing first downs. Two of every ten plays resulted in a score for the Eagles. Five of every ten did the same for the Patriots.
The defensive stats?
There was one punt by the Eagles. Philadelphia’s Nick Foles had one interception, and New England’s Brady was sacked once, fumbled once, on the play that sealed the game for the Eagles.
The only time the defenses looked remotely capable was AFTER somebody scored a touchdown. The two teams missed four extra points.
So, was the back-and-forth game fun to watch? Sure, but I wouldn’t want a Super Bowl like this every year. The success of both teams almost took the drama out of the game. Almost.
Nevertheless, I found a game-within-the-game that really warmed my heart. For two teams to put up such amazing numbers, the Offensive Lines had to be playing extraordinary football . . . and they were!
The Eagles OL was named the Offensive Line of the Year at Honors Night prior to the Super Bowl. They lived up to it. The Eagles only let Foles feel duress once, and Foles still completed the crucial fourth down pass. The Patriots threw every linebacker they had at the stand-in QB in hopes of rattling the six year journeyman. They couldn’t. The Patriots’ OL protected similarly, until Brandon Graham poked his hand into Brady’s throwing arm.
Super Bowl LII goes a long way to illustrate how football has changed since the NFL adopted pass-happier rules in 1994. A quick look at salaries will show you what team’s value now when building a squad.
Remember when running backs and linebackers were the high paid stars? Of the top seventy-five highest paid players in the league (salary cap figures), none of them are running backs. Quarterbacks lead the list with seventeen in the top fifty. Twenty-five are pass rushers. Eleven are defensive backs. Ten are wide receivers.
Twelve are offensive linemen: one center, one guard, and ten left tackles — the position mostly tasked to protect the quarterback. The first running back salary in 2017 was Buffalo’s LeShaun McCoy at #155. Can you believe a lineman rates higher than a running back?
For an old college offensive lineman, I’m glad we are earning respect. That’s more than the Super Bowl defenses deserve.
John O. Marlowe spent most of his career as a “pine-time” player, and was football's first DH (dummy holder) for Wabash College in the late 1970's. New to the art of the sports beat writer, Marlowe has spent forty years – and nearly $11,000 – following Indiana high school sports.