PHILADELPHIA – The New England Patriots (15-3) will face the Philadelphia Eagles (15-3) for the Lombardi Trophy at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4. The Eagles lead the all-time series 7-6 but lost their previous Super Bowl matchup with the Patriots. Five points about the Super Bowl opponents:
1. The last Patriots-Eagles matchup was a barnburner.
Then-Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford threw two touchdown passes, safety Malcolm Jenkins had a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown and Philadelphia beat the Patriots 35-28 on Dec. 6, 2015. But Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t go down easy. He overcame two third-quarter interceptions with two fourth-quarter TD, nearly leading a comeback after trailing 35-14 to open the final quarter. Brady accounted for four touchdowns, including one rushing.
2. Either the Patriots will tie the Steelers with a sixth Super Bowl win, or the Eagles will win the franchise’s first title.
Perhaps the most storied dynasty in NFL history will collide with a desperately hungry Eagles franchise that is 0-2 in Super Bowls. Brady already has the NFL record by appearing in his eighth Super Bowl, but another win would give him an NFL-record sixth ring, breaking his current tie among players with former 49ers and Cowboys great Charles Haley. Bill Belichick can add to his NFL-record five titles for a head coach. The Eagles are one of six NFL teams with multiple Super Bowl losses and no wins, joining the Bills, Vikings, Falcons, Panthers and Bengals.
3. Both teams have overcome critical injuries.
The Patriots lost their leading receiver, Julian Edelman, before the start of the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament. In November, New England put linebacker Dont’a Hightower and tight end Martellus Bennett on injured reserve. Then tight end Rob Gronkowski was lost to a concussion during the AFC Championship Game vs. Jacksonville. The Eagles feel that pain. They have continued to succeed despite losing MVP-caliber QB Carson Wentz to a torn ACL late in the season. Other major contributors on injured reserve include Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Jordan Hicks, running back Darren Sproles and kicker Caleb Strugis.
4. These two teams still took different paths.
The Eagles overcame a slow finish to the regular season, limping through victories over the Giants and Raiders before losing to the Cowboys 6-0 in Week 17. Philadelphia has turned it on in the postseason, beating the Falcons and 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan, followed of course by Sunday’s drubbing of the Vikings. The Patriots lost at home to the Chiefs 42-27 in Week 1 and were 2-2 through four games, but New England has won 13 of 14 since.
5. This is the second Patriots-Eagles Super Bowl.
The Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX in February 2005 in Jacksonville, Fla., when Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb’s comeback attempt fell short after a late touchdown. Philadelphia receiver Terrell Owens missed the last two regular-season games because of a broken leg, but he caught nine passes for 122 yards in this one. Both teams got off to a slow start with the score tied at 7-7 at halftime. McNabb, who threw a career-high 31 touchdowns to just eight interceptions in the 2004 season, was picked off three times. McNabb’s first pick ended a possible scoring drive in the first quarter when Patriots safety Rodney Harrison intercepted him in the red zone. McNabb’s last pass was also intercepted by Harrison with 17 seconds left.