Super Bowl a 'magical' moment for fans despite sub-zero cold

MINNEAPOLIS, Feb 4 (Reuters) - New England Patriots fan Jason Baer of Tampa won a sales contest at his job to score two tickets to the Super Bowl and invited his best friend. The magnitude of the moment hit when they entered Minneapolis' U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

"It was pretty magical walking through the gates," said Baer.

The American football championship has turned normally straight-laced office workers euphoric and the city of Minneapolis into a party as the Patriots seek their sixth Super Bowl title and the Philadelphia Eagles their first.

Neither snow nor slush nor sub-zero temperatures kept fans from celebrating the virtual holiday that is Super Bowl Sunday as massive crowds descended on downtown Minneapolis ahead of the big game.

The town has been gripped by a carnival atmosphere with fans jamming the streets despite a snow storm on Saturday and temperatures that dipped below zero Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius) over the weekend.

RELATED: Super Bowl LII pregame moments

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Super Bowl LII pregame moments
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) who is out for the season with an injury, throws on the field before today's game. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: Willie McGinest, who was part of the victorious New England team that beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX and is currently an analyst for the NFL Network, walks around four and a half hours before kickoff during a break in the network's telecast. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN on Feb. 04, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: Just as they do before every game, more than three hours before kickoff, New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores (front), wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea (center) and defensive line coach Brendan Daly (rear) were in the stands running the stairs among the fans. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN on Feb. 04, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: An early arriving New England Patriots fan records the scene, alone in a sea of purple seats. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN on Feb. 04, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: Bill Yetman, of Attleboro, Mass., takes a picture of friend Ken Swerdlick, from Conn. before Super Bowl LII. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: People skate outside US Bank Stadium before Super Bowl LII. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: Fans stream into US Bank Stadium before Super Bowl LII. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: US Bank Stadium before the game. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View inside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: The control room at US Bank Stadium. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Not Done Patriots towels are given to fans outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Fly Eagles Fly towels are given to fans outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View inside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Fly Eagles Fly towels are given to fans outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Fly Eagles Fly towels are given to fans outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General view of fans walking into US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General view of fans walking into US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General View outside US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: New England Patriots fans get into the act taking photos before the start of today's game. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: New England Patriots fans get into the act taking photos before the start of today's game. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: Smoke inside and outside as temperature hovers near zero. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 04: People pass by Philadelphia Police Department railings seen along Board Street as security measure for Super Bowl LII fans on February 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia police department is using gear oil to grease up the poles on downtown streets to minimize the damage that fans can do to the city and themselves in the aftermath of the Super Bowl LII that will be played between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: A Philadelphia Eagles fan soars before the start of the Super Bowl while morale is high for fans. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 4: A New England Patriot fan heads toward the US Bank Stadium with the temperature at 3 degrees before Super Bowl LII. The New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 04: People pass by Philadelphia Police Department railings seen along Broad Street as security measure for Super Bowl LII fans on February 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia police department is using gear oil to grease up the poles on downtown streets to minimize the damage that fans can do to the city and themselves in the aftermath of the Super Bowl LII that will be played between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 04: People pass by Philadelphia Police Department railings seen along Broad Street as security measure for Super Bowl LII fans on February 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia police department is using gear oil to grease up the poles on downtown streets to minimize the damage that fans can do to the city and themselves in the aftermath of the Super Bowl LII that will be played between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 04: People pass by Philadelphia Police Department railings seen along Broad Street as security measure for Super Bowl LII fans on February 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia police department is using gear oil to grease up the poles on downtown streets to minimize the damage that fans can do to the city and themselves in the aftermath of the Super Bowl LII that will be played between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 04: Philadelphia Police Department railings seen along Broad Street as security measure for Super Bowl LII fans on February 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia police department is using gear oil to grease up the poles on downtown streets to minimize the damage that fans can do to the city and themselves in the aftermath of the Super Bowl LII that will be played between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 04: A woman passes next to Philadelphia Police Department railings seen along Broad Street as security measure for Super Bowl LII fans on February 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia police department is using gear oil to grease up the poles on downtown streets to minimize the damage that fans can do to the city and themselves in the aftermath of the Super Bowl LII that will be played between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.(Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles fans await the start of Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles fans await the start of Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles fans await the start of Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles fans await the start of Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles fans await the start of Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles fans await the start of Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General view outside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General view outside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General view outside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A General view outside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: A mock memorial set up with a casket calling the Philadelphia Eagles a deceased team along Route 1A on February 4, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots will face the Philadelphia Eagles in Superbowl LII. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: New England Patriots fans stand in front of a mock memorial set up with a casket calling the Philadelphia Eagles a deceased team along Route 1A on February 4, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots will face the Philadelphia Eagles in Superbowl LII. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A general exterior view of the stadium prior to Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 04: A mock memorial set up with a casket calling the Philadelphia Eagles a deceased team along Route 1A on February 4, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots will face the Philadelphia Eagles in Superbowl LII. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: A general exterior view of the stadium prior to Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Fans walk toward the stadium prior to Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
NFL Football - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots - Super Bowl LII - U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. - February 4, 2018. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft before the game. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
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Gameday was sunny and clear with temperatures still barely above zero, though the players and some 66,000 spectators were warm inside the indoor U.S. Bank Stadium.

Baer, 44, won a six-month sales contest at his funeral services company and invited a college fraternity brother, Michael Cauger. They both wore Tom Brady Patriots jerseys while enjoying a pre-game beverage.

"This is a good as it comes. Bonding with your brother. Bonding with other fans. It's most little boys' dream to come to a Super Bowl," Cauger said.

Eagles fan Sonny Ankrah's journey to the Super Bowl started when he emigrated from Ghana and landed in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in 1985.

Now 44 and a tax attorney, he became an American football fan and Eagles supporter within a year of his arrival, a season ticket holder in 2002, and he flew to Minneapolis without a ticket for Sunday's big game.

After finding a broker, he scored two tickets for himself and his wife, Victoria Ankrah.

RELATED: Power Ranking: The most influential players in the Super Bowl

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Power Ranking: The most influential players in the Super Bowl
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Power Ranking: The most influential players in the Super Bowl

25. Malcolm Butler

As the man behind one of the biggest plays in NFL history, it would be irresponsible to leave Butler off of any list of potential Super Bowl impact players. Butler isn't due to have the toughest assignment of the Patriots secondary — he will likely be lined up opposing Torrey Smith for the majority of the night — but if the game comes down to a goal line stop for the Patriots, you know who they'll trust to step up.

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

24. Nelson Agholor

Eagles fans were once worried that Agholor would end up a draft bust, but this season he's proven to be a valuable pass catcher out of the slot. He's come down with more than a few crucial third down catches this year, and will likely be called upon to do so again on Sunday.

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

23. Gene Steratore

Steratore is fairly well-respected as far as NFL referees go, but he also had the most notorious officiating decision of the NFL season — you might remember him as the man behind the index card measurement. Steratore also led one of the most active regular season officiating crews in terms of flags thrown. Refs usually like to let the players play a bit more in the postseason, but don't be surprised if he makes a few big decisions on Sunday.

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

23. Chris Long

Long became a beloved name nationwide in 2017 for his generosity — donating all of his 2017 football earnings to charities promoting educational equity. He's also an effective defensive end that used to play for the Patriots that won't be lost in their schemes. For the Eagles to have a shot, they're going to have to bother Tom Brady in the backfield on every play, and Long should be a huge part of that effort.

(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

21. Stephen Gostkowski

Any game can come down to a kick on the final play, and Gostkowski is about a solid as a kicker can get when it comes to the big moment. He hit at 92.5% this season and was also a key part of the Patriots' field position game thanks to his low touchback percentage.

(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

20. Malcolm Jenkins

Jenkins is the emotional leader of the Eagles' defense and the team may go the way he goes on Sunday. Philadelphia's defense allowed just 12.4 points per game at home so far this year, and Jenkins will be a big part of bringing that intensity to Minneapolis. He's also an X-factor in that he can affect the game in multiple ways — a key sack, pick, fumble, or open field tackle are all on the table for him. A Super Bowl-altering play is well within in reach.

(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

19. Halapoulivaati Vaitai

While Nick Foles is obviously the most high-profile backup that the Eagles will have playing on Sunday, left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai will also be vital to Philadelphia's Super Bowl hopes. Vaitai took over the most important spot on the offensive line after veteran left tackle and nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters went down with an injury in October. Vaitai has largely stepped up in his absence, but will face one of his toughest tests of the season on Sunday.

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

18. Trey Flowers

Flowers is the player who will be looking to ruin Vaitai's day. The Patriots' defensive end has been a wrecking ball in the backfield this postseason, and his success or failure will be key to the Eagles' execution of their run-pass option offense.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

17. Jalen Mills

Mills, a sophomore cornerback, has been a reliable coverage man all season after a somewhat shaky start. With the Patriots' tendency to go five-wide, he and the rest of the Eagles secondary will have even less room for error if they want to stop Tom Brady and the New England offense.

 (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

16. Chris Hogan

Chris Hogan has been relatively quiet so far this postseason, but he's the type of receiver that can jump out at any point to change the game. And with so many talented pass-catchers on the Patriots, he's an easy guy to lose track of over the course of 60 minutes of football. If the Eagles do, they'll pay for it.

(Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

15. Brandon Graham

The Eagles' sack leader and another emotional force on their defense, Brandon Graham will be another make-or-break player for the Birds on Sunday — if he and the rest of the Eagles front four can bother Brady enough on their own, Philadelphia should be able to drop enough back in coverage to keep the Patriots offense somewhat at bay.

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

14. LeGarrette Blount

Another former Patriot, Blount will likely be a key part of the Eagles' offense on Sunday. While not as wily a rusher as teammate Jay Ajayi, Blount is a forceful goal line back and a huge asset when trying to win the battle for time of possession in the fourth quarter. If the Eagles face a third-and-goal from the two, or are ever one first down away from the win, expect Blount to get the ball in his hands.

(Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

13. Jake Elliott

Elliott became beloved in Philadelphia by hitting a 61-yard field goal to give the Eagles a walk-off win back in September. Since then, he's been fairly reliable, but he will need to be absolutely perfect for the Eagles to have a chance on Sunday.

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

12. Brandin Cooks

Cooks is the deep-strike threat that should terrify the Eagles' defense. Not only did he go off for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns this season, he also drew an additional 141 yards worth of pass interference penalties. He's always good for one big play a game.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

11. Jay Ajayi

When Ajayi was traded to the Eagles in Week 4, it's unlikely that he dreamed the trade would take him all the way to the Super Bowl. But here we are, with Ajayi standing as the most versatile back of Philadelphia's multi-faceted running attack. In some ways, Ajayi is the key to everything — if he can establish a solid run game for the Eagles from the start, the run-pass options and play-actions that the team relies on will be effective. But if the rush is snuffed and the Eagles can't threaten with their running game, their offense has little to build on.

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

10. Bill Belichick

Belichick has been here before. There are no surprises. He will not be deterred by a flea flicker or surprise onside kick or anything else that the Eagles staff throws at him. The reason he isn't higher on the list is that he is hardly a variable. Belichick will be fine. He will make every adjustment necessary to put the Patriots in a position to win, and it will be up to the players to execute.

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

9. Zach Ertz

Ertz has been Nick Foles' favorite target since taking over the starting role for the Eagles, and the duo had their best performance yet at the NFC Championship, connecting for eight receptions and 93 yards. The Patriots have been among the league's best at defending the position this year, holding opposing tight ends to a mere 43 yards per game. Ertz will likely have to do better than that if the Eagles are going to pull off the upset.

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

8. Dion Lewis

It's never easy to pick which running back Belichick is going to feature throughout a game, but Lewis has been a stud for the Patriots all year. If he can get going again in the Super Bowl, he could force the Eagles to spread themselves a bit thin on defense.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

7. Fletcher Cox

Anyone who has watched the Eagles this season is aware that Cox is a one-man wrecking crew. He can command and beat double-teams, and is one of the key reasons the Eagles can cause havoc in the backfield even if only rushing four players. He had 5.5 sacks on the season, and was likely a part of at least half of every other quarterback takedown the Eagles had.

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

6. Alshon Jeffery

Alshon Jeffery is the most dynamic offensive weapon the Eagles have. In the NFC Championship he had five targets for five catches and 85 yards, including two scores. Another perfect game like that would be huge for a Philadelphia offense that will still have to keep pace with the Patriots' prolific offense no matter how well their defense plays.

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

5. Danny Amendola

Somehow, the Patriots always find one player who can seemingly make any catch necessary to pick up a long third down conversion. This year, that player is Amendola. In the AFC Championship he was always there when Brady needed a big play, and if there's another miracle catch for the Patriots in the Super Bowl this year, you can be sure it will land in Amendola's hands.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

4. Rob Gronkowski

As one of the most unstoppable forces in football, Gronkowski presents the one matchup that is tough to imagine the Eagles stopping. If he can stay on the field for the Patriots, there's no doubt he'll have a huge impact on the game, especially in the red zone where he's been almost perfect for New England through his postseason career.

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

3. Doug Pederson

The Eagles have been underdogs in both of their postseason games so far this year, and have overcome the odds behind the game-planning of head coach Doug Pederson. With a tendency to go for it on fourth and take other well-timed risks, his play-calling will be especially important on Sunday — going on fourth comes out as a net positive when stretched over the course of the season, but it can make or break a single game. Pederson has called two perfect games for the Birds so far, and if he could help Philadelphia take home its first ever Lombardi Trophy.

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

2. Tom Brady

Like Belichick, Brady has been here before and his performance will likely be what we've come to expect from him. He'll play well. If he gets the ball up a score with seven minutes left in the game, he'll lead the Patriots on a six-minute touchdown drive. If he gets the ball down a score with 40 seconds left, he'll find a way to win the game. Even at 40, the GOAT is a machine, and the best defense in football can only hope to contain him.

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

1. Nick Foles

But the most important player in this Super Bowl is without a doubt Foles. In his limited action this year he's shown flashes of his transcendent 2013 season, and also flickers of his dreadful 2015. If the former shows up on Sunday and the Eagles offense hums like it did in the NFC Championship, Philadelphia is probably favored to win this game. But we all know another side to Foles exists. And one bad turnover or quick three-and-out after a score could also seal the team's fate.

Whether he plays brilliantly or busts out, no player's performance on Sunday will be of more consequence than Nick Foles.

(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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"We have been so hungry for an Eagles championship. I don't care how we win as long as we win," Ankrah said.

A week long celebration took hold in Minneapolis even though the Minnesota Vikings came up one game short of taking part in the final themselves.

The entertainment included a temporary ski run, a snowmobile stunt show in which daredevils soared into the air, warming fires and a concert stage where one musician had to stop the show to warm up because of freezing hands.

There were occasional celebrity sightings, such as television's Jimmy Fallon popping up periodically, followed by gaggles of fans, their cellphone cameras raised.

Other fans took turns posing beside a statue of Mary Tyler Moore, the late actress whose eponymous show in the 1970s took place in Minneapolis.

Despite the party, some contemplated weightier matters such as the health of players suffering brain injuries or protests by players who have kneeled during the national anthem over racial inequality.

Farah Atto, 35, a day trader and Minnesota Vikings fan, said he was troubled that he enjoyed watching the game even though it may cause premature death for players.

RELATED: Minneapolis prepares to host Super Bowl LII

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Minneapolis prepares to host Super Bowl LII
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Minneapolis prepares to host Super Bowl LII
Jan 31, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; General overall view of NFL official Wilson football at U.S. Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; General overall view of U.S. Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 2: Workers move Patriot and NFL props before a rehearsal at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN during the lead-up to Super Bowl LII, where the New England Patriots will face the Philadelphia Eagles, on Feb. 2, 2018. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: A General View inside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on January 30, 2018, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: A General View inside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on January 30, 2018, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: A General View inside of US Bank Stadium prior to Super Bowl LII on January 30, 2018, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JANUARY 30: George Toma NFL Groundskeeper tends Super Bowl for 52nd consecutive year is interviewed inside of US Bank Stadium on January 30, 2018, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
U.S. Bank Stadium, venue of this year's Super Bowl, as seen from a Department of Homeland Security Blackhawk helicopter that will be patrolling the skies during the game in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A Viking ship sits in front of US Bank Stadium, home to this weekend's Super Bowl, in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A journalist walks down the steps inside US Bank Stadium during a media preview for this weekend's Super Bowl in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Men looking at their phones stand beneath the transparent roof of US Bank Stadium during a media preview for this weekend's Super Bowl in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A worker inside US Bank Stadium prepares seats for this weekend's Super Bowl in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - DECEMBER 27, 2017: DigitalGlobe satellite image downtown Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium - home to Super Bowl LII. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 29: General view of the U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings and Super Bowl LII on December 29, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is home to a large Somali population and is near US Bank Stadium, the site of the NFL's Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. January 19, 2018. Picture taken January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Craig Lassig
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 29: General view of the U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings and Super Bowl LII on December 29, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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"It's not as much fun anymore," Atto said. "Before, you were not aware of it. Now you know you're watching a dangerous game."

Some fans waited to see whether players from either team would kneel during the national anthem, a practice criticized by President Donald Trump.

"The stage doesn't get much bigger than this," said Olivia House, 20, a college student in Minneapolis who said she hoped player protests would spark more dialog about social justice issues.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Additional reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Susan Thomas)

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