It may not be the start Patriots fans were looking for, but the first half of Super Bowl LII certainly brought it in terms of big plays and entertainment.
Slugging it out for 30 minutes, the teams went to the locker room with the underdog Eagles up 22-12.
After the teams swapped field goals – New England scoring in the first quarter for the first time in eight trips to the Super Bowl with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady – Philadelphia got the big plays rolling with a 34-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery, beating Eric Rowe. That play came on the heels of a 36-yard run for former Patriot LeGarrette Blount.
New England hit a 50-yard pass to Danny Amendola on an ensuing possession that ended in a missed field goal.
The Eagles next scoring drive came thanks in large part to a 22-yard completion to Jeffrey immediately followed by a 21-yard Blount touchdown run.
New England’s ensuing drive was jumpstarted by a 46-yard screen to Rex Burkhead on the way to a 45-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
Ajay had a 26-yard run only to see his team’s drive end on a Duron Harmon interception near the goal line. New England then hit its own two-play scoring combo with a Brady 43-yard completion to Chris Hogan setting up a 26-yard touchdown run for James White.
Philly would not go quietly late in the second quarter, though, as Corey Clement toasted Jordan Richards for a 55-yard wheel route on the way to another touchdown.
There were also big hits, none bigger than a Malcolm Jenkins blow that sent Brandin Cooks to the locker room for the rest of the night with a head injury following a 23-yard catch.
For every big play, there were some sloppy mistakes.
Both kickers missed PATs. Gostkowski also missed the 26-yard field goal after an ugly Joe Cardona snap disrupted the entire operation. Both teams’ tight ends had poor false start penalties.
There were also a few trick plays, though a Danny Amendola throw-back to a wide open Tom Brady was dropped by the quarterback.
Philly threw to their QB, too, a toss from tight end Trey Burton to Nick Foles for a 1-yard touchdown with less than a minute to play in the half.
The Patriots seven previous trips to the Super Bowl under Belichick have led to some of the most exiting games in the history of the big game.
The start to Super Bowl LII is no different, though New England finds itself on the wrong end of the scoreboard at halftime. Of course the deficit is nothing like what the team faced a year ago against Atlanta.
As halftime adjustments are being made, both teams clearly are in the running to take home the Lombardi Trophy later tonight.
And with Brady set to get the ball to open the third quarter having already thrown for 276 yards on just 12-of-23 completions, betting against the GOAT wouldn’t seem wise even in the face of another Super Bowl halftime uphill battle.