MINNEAPOLIS — A few days before Super Bowl LII, Eagles defensive line coach Chris Wilson sat at a round table in a dingy, poorly-lit corner of a giant empty storage room at the Mall of America and preached patience.
He preached that even if his players weren't getting to Tom Brady for the first quarter or first half or even until the very end, they couldn't stop trying. Eventually their moment would come.
He was right.
"You don't get to beat the G.O.A.T. every day," Wilson said late Sunday night, wearing a smile to go along with his new Super Bowl champs gear as he walked out of the victorious locker room in the bowels of U.S. Bank Stadium.
Brandon Graham listened to his coach. He was patient. After the Eagles hadn't sacked Brady all night, after they had barely gotten a finger on him, Graham pulled off one of the biggest plays in the Eagles' 41-33 Super Bowl win (see breakdown). His patience is a big reason there's going to be a parade down Broad Street (see celebration).
With just over two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LII, Graham came around and knocked the ball out of Brady's hands. From there, Derek Barnett was able to scoop it up and the Eagles were able to hold on for their first Lombardi Trophy (see Roob's observations).
"The main thing was, I told Brandon and Chris (Long) to just do their thing," Fletcher Cox said. "I told them to do whatever they want. I just tried to get a push up the middle to cause some disruption and [I told him to just do] what Brandon Graham does. Making plays. Those are the things we talk about, just playing together and sticking together as a unit. Nobody is trying their own gain. I think at the end of the day, that's what it came down to — everyone just playing together."
Graham's sack was the only one the Eagles' heralded defensive line had all game. It was the only one it needed.
Brady and the Patriots put up an astounding 613 total offensive yards, the most any team has ever had in a Super Bowl. And it didn't matter.
"We don't care how many yards we gave up," Malcolm Jenkins said. "We were just trying to win."
As Brady and the Patriots spent most of Sunday night in a shootout with Nick Foles and the Eagles' offense, Graham and his defensive line teammates were just trying to heed the words of advice from their position coach.
"We knew," Graham said. "We knew that Tom Brady was going to try to take us out of the game. We knew we were going to have an opportunity in there where he was going to have to hold the ball. We just kept working, kept working, not getting frustrated, we had to keep talking to each other. 'Hey, we're going to make a play, we're going to win this thing.' People believed and at the end of the day, we won the game and we just kept staying strong."
After Graham knocked the ball free and it was loose on the vibrant green turf that would soon be covered in Lombardi Trophy-shaped confetti, the Eagles needed a rookie to do his job. They needed Barnett to fall on it.
"What's going through my head?" Barnett said, repeating the question. "Secure the ball. Secure the ball and then try to score."
Barnett wasn't able to get to the end zone, but the Eagles' offense got the ball back, killed some time and then the defense held once more.
It's fitting in a way that Graham's patience paid off in the Eagles' Super Bowl win. For a former first-round pick, who was once deemed a bust, he's certainly come a long way. He's one of the best players on the team, he's one of the most disruptive defensive ends in football, he's become a fan favorite.
And now he's a world champion.
He just had to be patient to get there.
"We about to have a party on Broad Street, baby!" Graham said. "I know they tearing it up now, but we about to come and tear it up some more."