An unlikely hero emerged from a Philadelphia Eagles aerial attack featuring a first-round pick in Nelson Agholor, a $52 million-option in Alshon Jeffery and a Super Bowl-champion veteran in Torrey Smith.
Corey Clement, the third fiddle in a deep Eagles backfield, led the way with a team-high 100 receiving yards. Philadelphia’s three-man rushing attack, fronted by LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi, combined for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the 41-33 victory against the Patriots.
“Our running back room showcased ourselves very well tonight,” Ajayi said.
But it was Clement who made two of the biggest plays to push Philadelphia’s breakneck, shootout pace over the lethal Patriots offense. Unlikely star might be an understatement for Clement, given he was an undrafted rookie from Wisconsin.
“I’ve been counted out so many times,” Clement said. “I don’t understand why I didn’t get drafted, but that’s really not a factor now I’m a Super Bowl champion.”
First came the stiff-arm.
Just before halftime, the former Badgers running back punished Patriots safety Duron Harmon with a nasty extension of his right arm. It helped turn a simple third-down conversion into a huge 55-yard catch and run to New England’s 8-yard line.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson then dug into his bag of tricks. On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in a tight championship game, quarterback Nick Foles walked up to the line mimicking an audible. Clement, left alone behind center, took a direct snap and pitched to tight end Trey Burton, who threw a touchdown to Foles for a 22-12 lead.
“I was hoping they weren’t going to figure out what Nick was going to do after he left me hanging there just waiting for a snap,” Clement said. “I tried to sell it my best.”
After halftime came the toe-tap.
Foles’ risky toss over a double-covered Clement paid off when the 5-10 running back stretched out his arms for a 22-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. It was Clement’s third of four catches, pushing the Eagles to a 29-19 lead in the third quarter.
If Clement brought the lightning, Blount led with the thunder.
The ex-Patriots running back set the tone in the first quarter against his former team. With the score tied at 3, Blount burst through the line, high-stepping one Patriots defender on his path to a 36-yard run for the Eagles’ second-biggest gain of the game.
It was suggested to Blount postgame that he “ran like a man possessed” against his former team, but the truth is he just continued his dominance after contact. Blount’s 3.56-yard average after contact during the regular season was the third-most among all NFL backs, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Super Bowl was no different for the three-time champion.
Blount, who led all rushers with 90 yards on the ground, brought his two children to the podium after the game. From there, he shut the door on looking back at his time with New England.
“I’m done answering questions about the Patriots,” he said.
He then said enough for the entire Eagles team after dethroning an NFL dynasty.
“It was the perfect ending,” Blount said.