Image: Paddy Graham

Super Bowl at the SU

On Sunday night Warwick once again hosted its traditional Super Bowl party, as the underdog Philadelphia Eagles faced off against the heavily favoured New England Patriots. The Patriots are a perennial contender, the villain who refuses to die, the empire that always strikes back. The Eagles, by comparison, had never even won a Super Bowl – much to the delight of their rivals.

Philadelphia had lost MVP candidate quarterback Carson Wentz to a torn ACL towards the end of the season, with many resultantly writing them off. In stepped journeyman Nick Foles, who although not without ability, has on the whole flattered to deceive across his NFL career. Despite securing the NFC’s 1 seed, his shaky end to the regular season, only further increased doubts over the team. However, the Eagles, whose notoriously rowdy fans have taken to wearing dog masks at the games, flew past the favoured Falcons and Vikings, to reach a shot at glory. It was all set up for a tantalising game, which did not disappoint.

It was all set up for a tantalising game, which did not disappoint

A rowdy crowd of around 250 people turned up to watch the game at the SU, as a variety of jerseys were on show from Aaron Rodgers to JJ Watt, with of course a few Brady and Gronkowski ones thrown in there. Throughout the night a variety of American sports staples were on sale, as abnormally large beers could be sobered up with hotdogs and cheesy fries. This helped engender a lively and engaging atmosphere which mirrored the nature of the game.

The crowd were unquestionably rooting for the Eagles, and also indubitably against the Patriots, as Tom Brady’s first appearance on the big screen prompted a round of boos. Throughout the night this pattern was visible. A botched Stephan Gotskowski field goal was to the amusement of many in the crowd. There were big cheers when Patriots receiver Brandon Cooks was laid out, accompanied by massive jeers at a failed New England flea flicker attempt. This was matched by vocal support for the Eagles, especially any time London-born Jay Ajayi went on a surging run for Philadelphia.

This was matched by vocal support for the Eagles, especially any time London-born Jay Ajayi went on a surging run for Philadelphia

This was the ideal game for any there who were NFL novices, as the match went an electric pace. Brady threw for over 500 yards, with New England amazingly not punting once. Although the much-vaunted Eagles defence failed to turn up, it was bailed out by an unexpectedly exceptional offensive showing by Nick Foles and co. The half flew by, punctuated by a perhaps not tuneful but endearing rendition of Twist and Shout by the Warwick Wolves and Wolverines, who turned out in force. The moment that defined the half was insane trick play, typical of Doug Peterson’s gutsy play calling, as on fourth and goal, Nick Foles ended up receiving a touchdown. This helped the Eagles go in unexpectedly leading 22-12 at the break.

Justin Timberlake’s half time show seemed to go down well, as there were some cheers from the rafters, and a fit of clapping broke out when he sang Mirrors. Obviously given a stern talk by couch Bill Belichick, or maybe just big fans of JT, the Patriots came out strong, as they scored on their first three drives of the second half, with the Eagles uncharacteristically not being able to make a stop. However even after a Rob Gronkowski touchdown, Nick Foles led a brilliant drive right up the field, culminating in yet another fourth and goal conversion, as Zac Ertz broke through for the score.

Obviously given a stern talk by couch Bill Belichick, or maybe just big fans of JT, the Patriots came out strong

This left five-time winner TB12 with the ball in his hands with 2:21 on the clock and five points to make up. The tension was palpable. However, the Eagles defence finally showed up, as Brandon Graham knocked out the ball from Brady’s flailing arm, which was then recovered by the Eagles. Rookie kicker Jake Elliot capped off a superb night by drilling a clutch field goal. Brady was left facing 91 yards of field to charge up, in addition to needing a 2-point conversion. In what some are speculating to be the end of the Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Robert Kraft triumvirate, the Patriots could not manage another comeback on this final drive, prompting an eruption at the SU, as the Eagles claimed their maiden Super Bowl win.

Ben Webb, Warwick American Football Society President, summarised the evening as an “embracement of American culture”, as a whole variety of students turned up on a chilly Sunday night for “one of the finest sporting experiences in the world”. With the SU’s event growing bigger every year, in addition to the fine successes of the Warwick American sports teams, we might soon have more Britons following in the footsteps of Super Bowl Champion Jay Ajayi.

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