Instant Observations: Eagles-Patriots
FOXBOROUGH, MA — A stunner in New England.
The Eagles used a little special teams magic of old and came up with a pair of huge turnovers on defense — including one that Malcolm Jenkins took to the house — to shock the Patriots, 35-28. Here’s what we saw:
*Down 14-0 early, the Eagles were able to tie it heading into the break thanks to a Chris Maragos punt block in the final seconds of the half. Najee Goode scooped it up and ran for the score to knot it at 14-14.
*Darren Sproles added an 83-yard punt return in the latter stages of the third quarter. He received a number of key blocks on the play, including one from Kenjon Barner that helped him slip down the left side. It was all Sproles from there. He split Darius Fleming and punter Ryan Allen to burst into daylight for his sixth career punt return for a TD, which moves him into a tie for eighth for most in NFL history. That’s his fourth with the Eagles.
*The Patriots opted for a bizarre drop kick after their second score of the game. The Eagles recovered at their own 41, and made it into the end zone eight plays later. That was the start of 35 straight points for the Eagles.
*Zach Ertz was unable to corral an onsides kick late in the fourth, and New England regained possession down 35-21 and went onto score. The next onsides attempt, though, was smartly batted out of bound by Riley Cooper.
*Marcus Smith made a special teams tackle. Jimmy Kempski found this a cause for celebration.
*Malcolm Jenkins snared a Walter Thurmond tip for an interception and raced 99 yards for the score early in the second half to put the Eagles out in front. It is tied for the fourth longest interception return in Eagles history, and was the clear turning point in the game.
*Credit Jenkins for a key tackle-for-loss on first-and-goal on that same drive, dropping James White four yards in the backfield two plays before the pick.
*Tom Brady did not have a two-interception game through the first 11 games of the season, but gave up a pair Sunday. His second came late in the third quarter on a shot downfield to Brandon LaFell. It appeared the QB and receiver weren’t on the same page and the ball sailed to Byron Maxwell, who came down with the pick in the end zone.
*Brady finished 29-of-56 for 312 yards with three touchdowns and two picks. Heading into the game, Brady was 40-8 in games following a loss in his career.
*The Eagles sacked Brady four times and hit him 13. Vinny Curry and Fletcher Cox alone had four QB hits each, while Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham led the way with two sacks apiece.
*A creative look by Billy Davis helped spring Barwin for the first of his two sacks. Barwin lined up next to Graham on the right side and after a stutter step towards the outside, looped back inside. Good job by Graham to occupy the lineman as Barwin ran in clean to take down Brady.
*Cox was shaken up late in the first half following a Brady sack but played on.
*A Scott Chandler rub route knocked Mychal Kendricks out of the picture near the goal line, allowing a wide-open James White to catch it in the flat and waltz in for the score early in the game.
*Danny Amendola ran a terrific route midway through the second for the Patriots second score. Coming in motion from the left side, Amendola sold the crossing route before breaking upfield and then back to the outside, leaving Walter Thurmond in his wake.
*Playing his first game since suffering a concussion and shoulder injury against the Dolphins, Sam Bradford went 14-of-24 for 120 yards with two touchdowns.
*The QB found Zach Ertz in the back of the end zone for a five-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Ertz shook loose of Devin McCourty and made a leaping catch for the score — his first of the season.
*Bradford added a touchdown strike to Jordan Matthews that upped the Eagles’ lead to 35-14.
*A huge strike to Cooper on third down late in the game to extend the drive with the Eagles nursing a seven-point lead. Barner fumbled deep in Patriots territory, though, to give Brady one more shot at it. The defense held its ground — thanks to a pair of Patriots drops — to preserve the win.
*Sproles got the start and finished with 100 total yards. DeMarco Murray (8-24) had a limited role, sharing time with both Sproles and Barner (9-39).
*Overall, the ground attack averaged four yards per carry.
*Nice blocks by Matt Tobin and Nelson Agholor to create an outside lane for Barner on his 19-yard run.
*The Eagles have been getting better in the drop department (5 in their last 3 coming in, per Domo) but Agholor had one in the first half.
*The offense showed some signs of life — particularly in the run game — but penalties stalled some promising drives early. A Lane Johnson hold on the first offensive possession negated a Sproles first down near midfield, and the Eagles eventually punted.
They started the next drive with a delay of game penalty (not sure how that happens) and a Jason Peters false start, and were later done in by an Allen Barbre facemask.
*The offensive line committed four penalties on the first two drives alone. The Eagles had eight accepted penalties for 97 yards, though 95 of those were in the first half.