Super Bowl LII First Half Thoughts
As the New England Patriots enter halftime of Super Bowl LII facing a 10-point deficit, trailing the Philadelphia Eagles, 22-12, here are some first-half thoughts:
Another Double-Digit Deficit- The Pats find themselves playing in their third straight Super Bowl, in which they trail by 10 or more points. New England came back from 10 points down to the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX, before scoring 14 unanswered points to win 28-24. Of course, the Pats also trailed 28-3 in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, before rattling off 31 unanswered points to pull off a historic comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28, in overtime. Maybe the Patriots feel most comfortable in these situations. Likely that is not true, but they have pulled off similar comebacks, so the second half is still very much up for grabs.
Another Crazy Play- In their two Super Bowl losses and even in a couple of their wins, the Pats have been burned by crazy, unexpected plays by opposing offenses. A similar play helped the Eagles close out the first half, as they ran a trick play, wide receiver pass that was completed to quarterback Nick Foles from a yard out with just over 30 seconds remaining on the clock. The completed pass put the Eagles up by 10 points and stunned most everyone. To add insult to injury, the Pats tried a similar type play earlier in the game and had the ball bounce off the fingertips of Tom Brady on a key third down with the quarterback completed wide open.
No Butler- Patriots top cornerback Malcolm Butler did not play on defense for a single snap in the first half. The diminutive defensive back, who rose to prominence with a game-winning interception at the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX, has not played well this season and had been battling flu-like symptoms throughout Super Bowl week. Butler was cleared off the injury report late this week, however, and expected to play. While he has been in a bit on special teams, the NBC broadcast has noted that the decision not to play Butler is a "coaches decision" for New England.
Cooks Is Done- The Pats had to play the majority of the first half and will have to continue the game without their top deep threat, wide receiver Brandin Cooks. The speedster was knocked out of the game early, after taking a blindsided shot from Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Cooks was immediately ruled out with a concussion and his absence cuts the Pats down to three true receivers for the remainder of the game.
Brady's Interesting First Half- Tom Brady has had an interesting first half of play, as he has completed just over half of his pass attempts. While he has completed just 12 passes, he has thrown for a game-high 276 yards. The pressure on Brady has been relentless thus far.