Minneapolis — It had been a frustrating Sunday night for the Philadelphia Eagles defense and a quiet night for defensive end Brandon Graham.
But the Detroit native remained patient and confident in the closing minutes of Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium, knowing he still had an opportunity to make a difference.
The Eagles had made a schematic adjustment, moving the 6-foot-2, 265-pound Graham inside, hoping to generate some pressure on New England quarterback Tom Brady as he looked to orchestrate another Super Bowl comeback with his team trailing 38-33. On the second snap of the drive, Graham found his opening.
The eighth-year pro, and former University of Michigan standout, outmaneuvered Patriots guard Shaq Mason on the snap and found his way into the backfield. As Brady cocked his arm back to throw, Graham hit the quarterback, jarring the ball free.
“I knew I had a one-on-one with the guard,” Graham said. “I knew he liked to be aggressive, so I tried to act like I was pulling. I snatched it right off and Tom Brady’s arm was right there and I went for the ball.”
Teammate Derek Barnett pounced on the loose ball and the Eagles translated the turnover into a field goal, pushing the team’s lead to eight points with 70 seconds remaining.
Other than the play, the Eagles' defense struggled. The Patriots never punted and had scored on six of their first nine drives — which included a botched field goal and the end of the first half.
But Graham and the defense never gave up hope.
“For us, it was all about one stop we had to make,” he said. “We went out here and made that one stop. We knew we were going against the best. How much sweeter is it that we beat the best today? I’m just glad I was able to be a part of it.”
While Graham reveled in the 41-33 victory during his postgame press conference, his daughter Emerson, celebrating her second birthday, might have stolen the show. She kept pulling the microphone close and quietly reciting the Eagles’ fight song as her proud father answered questions from the swarm of media.
“We about to have a party on Broad Street, baby,” Graham said. “I know they’re tearing it up now, but we’re going to come and tear it up some more.”