Observations: Eagles Vs. Patriots
FOXBORO, Mass. — Here’s what we saw during tonight’s Eagles-Patriots game:
* It took awhile for the Eagles’ offense to get a chance, but Nick Foles bounced back from his performance a week ago, completing 8 of 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. The numbers are even more impressive considering he was playing without Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper.
* Foles completed an 8-yard slant to Ifeanyi Momah, but Momah fumbled on the play. He later had a 12-yard catch and had a chance on a fade to the end zone, but the ball appeared to be slightly overthrown.
* Allen Barbre got beaten by Rob Ninkovich for a sack. Barbre gave up a pressure in the Bears game as well. He, of course, will be starting at right tackle for Lane Johnson during the first four games.
* Brent Celek had a couple big plays – a 23-yard catch and a 22-yard catch. The 23-yarder was on Y-Cross, a play we broke down last week. On the 22-yarder, Celek got his helmet knocked off.
* Zach Ertz got a defender on his back in the red zone and came down with a 6-yard touchdown grab in the second. Foles’ throw was on the money. Ertz also drew an illegal contact penalty on Patrick Chung in the first half. And he beat a linebacker for a big gain from Mark Sanchez late in the first half.
* Sanchez was fantastic on the final drive of the first half. He was 5-for-5 for 61 yards and a TD, leading the Eagles down the field in 1:07. He completed a 20-yard pass to Ertz, found Jordan Matthews for an 18-yarder and hit Momah/Benn for the score. The ball bounced off of Momah’s hands as he hit the ground, but Benn was there to grab it. Sanchez threw an interception in the third quarter. It looked like he didn’t see the safety looming on a middle-of-the-field throw to James Casey. But that was his only incompletion of the night as Sanchez went 11-for-12 for 117 yards, two TDs and a pick. In the preseason, Sanchez has completed 18 of 22 passes for 196 yards.
* Matthews mixed in with the first team. He had one catch from Foles, but then exploded for nine grabs on nine targets for 104 yards. He had a nice 25-yard gainer on a crossing route in the third and flashed good hands on a 9-yard catch. Now would seem like a good time to bump him up to the first team.
* Josh Huff got drilled on a kickoff return and left the game with a shoulder injury.
* Damaris Johnson started in the backfield, but then leaked to the right for a 5-yard touchdown from Sanchez in the third. Later, Johnson had a Matt Barkley pass bounce off his hands for an INT.
* Great effort from Henry Josey on a 27-yard catch and run. He managed to stay in bounds down the sideline before diving into the end zone. Josey also had eight carries for 56 yards.
* Ups and downs on special teams. Alex Henery missed badly wide right on a 47-yard field goal attempt in the second. On the flip side, Arrelious Benn blocked a Patriots punt.
* Minus one Cary Williams interception, the Eagles’ first-team defense struggled mightily against the Patriots. As was the case last week, the Birds couldn’t get off the field, allowing Tom Brady and company to convert all four of their third-down chances. A week ago against the Bears, the Eagles allowed Chicago’s first-team offense to go 3-for-4 on third down.
* The lone bright spot was Williams’ pick-six. Brady and his receiver were not on the same page. Williams made the interception and returned it 77 yards, getting blocks from Vinny Curry and Mychal Kendricks on the play. Williams, however, injured his hamstring on the play, and his night was over.
* Curtis Marsh had a nightmarish night. He was flagged for a 26-yard pass interference penalty and a holding penalty. He got beat for a back-shoulder touchdown and another score in the back of the end zone. There was also a 25-yard completion in there.
* Other negative plays: Cedric Thornton got blocked to the ground (or tripped) on an 11-yard run early. Najee Goode got called for a penalty in the first. Brandon Boykin got called for a couple penalties and failed to set the edge on an 18-yard run play. Marcus Smith II was called for illegal hands to the face. Curry was called for offsides.
* Bright spots? Mychal Kendricks burst through the backfield for a tackle for loss on the first drive (but there was a penalty on the play). For the second week in a row, Beau Allen got pressure on the quarterback, splitting defenders with his interior rush. Brandon Bair continues to make his presence felt in the run game. Connor Barwin had a nice pass-rush, but Marsh was holding. Earl Wolff had a forced fumble in the red zone. Wolff also came strong on a blitz and had a batted pass. Taylor Hart had a nice run stop in the second.
* Tough to tell what happened on the second Patriots TD. Boykin slipped. It also appeared Emmanuel Acho and Travis Long were in the same area, perhaps mistakenly.
* Bennie Logan got the start at nose tackle. He didn’t play in the first preseason game.
* In the second half, Smith rushed upfield on one play, but Ryan Mallett found running room and scored from 6 yards out. The backup units looked as shaky as the starters. They gave up three touchdowns in the third quarter alone. Marsh ended up getting beat for a third touchdown.
* Nice moment for Alejandro Villanueva in the fourth, coming up with a sack in the red zone.