Drive to third title

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

FIRST QUARTER

It all started with the Philadelphia Eagles winning the coin toss. Then the defences took over.

On Philly's opening drive, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi busted through untouched for the sack, forcing the Eagles to punt. After getting the ball and making a couple of first downs, the Patriots also punted off their opening drive.

Finally some assemblance of offence appeared on Philly's third drive when QB Donovan McNabb found a wide-open Terrell Owens on a 30-yard catch and run that, combined with a penalty, landed the Eagles on the eight-yard line. But Pats LB Mike Vrabel sacked McNabb for a 16-yard loss. Then an illegal contact infraction on Pats LB Roman Phifer nullified teammate Asante Samuel's endzone interception, giving the Eagles a key first down at the Pats' 19-yard line. But McNabb was picked off with 3:06 left by S Rodney Harrison at the four-yard line.

New England's defence ended the quarter with a flourish when CB Randall Gay stripped Eagles TE L.J. Smith and DB Eugene Wilson recovered the fumble.

QUARTER STAR: Rodney Harrison, Pats: Red zone INT

SECOND QUARTER

It started badly for the Pats as Eagles DE Derrick Burgess sacked QB Tom Brady to nullify the first-quarter turnover.

On their ensuing drive, Philly's 6-ft. 3-in. WR Todd Pinkston made a great leaping catch down at the Pats 20-yard line. That grab led to a six-yard TD reception at 4:05 from QB Donovan McNabb to TE L.J. Smith.

Then a Brady fumble was recovered by Eagles DT Darwin Walker at Philly's 13-yard line but the Pats defence stood tall, forcing an Eagles punt.

The Pats finally converted on third down for the first time shortly before the two-minute warning. That conversion helped them get their first TD when WR David Givens hauled in a four-yard pass from Brady with 1:10 remaining, capping a seven-play, 37-yard drive.

QUARTER STAR: Todd Pinkston, Eagles: 82 yds rec.

THIRD QUARTER

Pats LB Mike Vrabel lined up at TE and tipped then caught a two-yard TD pass from QB Tom Brady as the Pats went up 14-7 at 4:51. It was Vrabel's fifth catch of his career -- all TDs. But the quarter-opening drive was dictated by WR Deion Branch, who singlehandedly gained the rest of the mileage with four receptions for 71 yards.

On the ensuing drive, Eagles RB Brian Westbrook took the offence on his shoulders, racking up 40 all-purpose yards and capping the performance with a 10-yard reception with 3:39 left as the Eagles knotted it at 14-14. QB Donovan McNabb went 7-for-8 on the drive which included 10 plays for 74 yards.

Both coaches breathed a sigh of relief because it was the first quarter without a turnover.

Pats CB Randall Gay racked up six tackles to lead all defenders, while DT Richard Seymour, returning to the Pats lineup from a knee injury, dropped McNabb for a six-yard loss on the Eagles' first possession of the quarter.

QUARTER STAR: Brian Westbrook, Eagles: 40 yds, TD

FOURTH QUARTER

Capping a drive that began late in the third, Pats RB Corey Dillon scored on a two-yard run at 1:16. The Eagles contained Dillon until then but he and bruising FB Kevin Faulk carried the Pats on the drive.

After an Eagles punt, the Pats marched downfield and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 22-yard FG on a drive aided by a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Eagles DT Corey Simon, which was tacked onto a 19-yard completion by WR Deion Branch, who tied a Super Bowl record with his 11th catch.

Following the kickoff, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was picked off, his second of the game, by Pats LB Tedy Bruschi with 7:20 left but the Pats went three and out.

The Eagles started a long drive with 5:40 left and scored when WR Greg Lewis made an 30-yard TD grab from McNabb with 1:48 left. Pats TE Christian Fauria recovered the onside kick but gave the Eagles the ball back with 46 seconds left. McNabb then threw his third pick of the contest, this one to S Rodney Harrison.

QUARTER STAR: Tedy Bruschi, Pats: INT

KEY TO VICTORY

The Patriots' running attack couldn't be stopped in the second half. Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk found plenty of holes in the Philadelphia defence, giving QB Tom Brady a chance to pick apart the secondary. That he did for 236 yards, guiding the Patriots to their third Super Bowl title in four years.

TURNING POINT

When Tedy Bruschi intercepted Donovan McNabb's errant pass in the fourth quarter, it gave the Pats the ball back with a 24-14 lead. The Eagles were driving and had the ball on New England's 36-yard line. Instead, Bruschi read McNabb's throw and stepped into the ball for an easy INT.

GOAT OF GAME

Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb, that was some of the worst clock management we've seen in quite some time. With the Eagles attempting to rally late in the fourth quarter, the coach and quarterback somehow forgot about the term 'no huddle.' Wasted clock ended up sealing Philly's fate.

UNSUNG HEROES

There were plenty of them to go around on a deep Patriots team that is much more effective as a team than any one individual. We can trumpet the second-string secondary, led by Asante Samuel, or the club's highly-effective offensive line, led by Daniel Koppen, Matt Light and Joe Andruzzi.


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