New England Patriots

Tom Brady may now be 5-3 in Super Bowls. Sunday night’s defeat to the Eagles counts in the loss column. And with just over two minutes left and a chance to work his usual late-game magic, he lost a fumble that ultimately dashed the Patriots’ hopes of yet another playoff comeback.

But without what was another superlative effort for Brady, the Patriots would have been blown completely out of U.S. Bank Stadium.

On a night where the Patriots defense had its worst effort of the season against Nick Foles and the Eagles, Brady and the offense kept pace. And momentarily battled back to take a razor-thin 33-32 lead in the fourth quarter. Brady threw for 505 yards, a Super Bowl record. He made 48 pass attempts without an interception, also a Super Bowl record. He also set career Super Bowl records by getting to 2,576 yards and 18 touchdown passes.

In most games, 33 points would be enough for the Patriots. Just one problem: the Eagles scored 41. And if not for an excellent night for Brady – as well as Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan – this loss would have been ugly.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots has the ball stripped by Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles late in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

For a game that felt going in like the Eagles front-seven would present problems for the Patriots offense, they presented none – until the perfect time for them, late in the fourth quarter. Brandon Graham got by Patriots right guard Shaq Mason and stripped the ball loose, and rookie defensive end Derek Barnett recovered it. And with that, the Eagles essentially sealed their victory.

“I’d obviously love to not have it stripped from me,” Brady said on the strip-sack. “I was just holding the ball trying to get it downfield. Those guys had a good rush and got in there and made a good play. They’ve been doing it all year. I knew they had a good rush. They made a good play. They made a good play at the right time. They made one good play at the right time.”

Ultimately, the Patriots had under a minute and no timeouts on their final possession of the game and simply came up short. If Brady somehow got them into the end zone, converted the two points, then won another Super Bowl in overtime, he would have been the easy MVP choice.

This game may count as a loss in Brady’s career, but he did very little to be considered a loser in this one. In the end, the defense failed the Patriots and forced the offense to carry the full load. Overall, Brady again showed why he’s the greatest quarterback to ever play. It just didn’t end with a Lombardi Trophy this time.

And without him, the trophy would have been in the Eagles’ grasp far sooner.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.