Eagles-Patriots, The Day After


USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports

Veteran Jason Peters called it a sight he had never really seen before.

It’s not uncommon for Jeffrey Lurie to speak with the players pre-game, but it’s usually one-on-one and in the measured, relaxed tone that he seldom strays from. This time was different. In the bowels of Gillette Stadium before his stumbling squad squared off against the juggernaut, he addressed the team in larger groups, and spoke with a passion that unquestionably caught their attention.

“Me and him have a relationship and every game he’s fired up with me,” said Peters. “He kind of expressed himself in front of the whole team today. He was fired up. He was fired up. I’ve never seen him like that in front of everybody.”

“He just told us straight up: you’ve gotta play hard, you’ve gotta play balls to the wall. And it’s a little different coming from the man that’s paying the bills,” added Najee Goode, whose scoop and score off the punt block was one of the signature moments in the game. “You could tell that he had a fire under his ass, and it was under our ass, too.”

Lurie is from Boston. Tried to buy the Patriots back in 1993 only to be outbid. Lost his only Super Bowl appearance as owner to this same New England team.

“I don’t think he’s a big fan of this place,” said Lane Johnson with a smile.

“It’s probably something built up over the years that he wanted to get out,” added Peters.

The other side of it has to do not with history, but the here and now. A man who likes to view his organization as among the elite just watched his team lose three straight — two in embarrassing, lackluster fashion. The fan base was raging, the critics were in full throat and the season’s cliff was just a final shove away.

So the normally placid owner popped the cork and let some emotions fly, saving some of his most inspired words for Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin. 

“He lit me up because he came to me and Connor kind of lit us up while we were in there [locker room]. It was kind of a surprise but it was needed because I went out there and played for my brothers out there,” said Graham.

“[The message was] just play angry. Go out there and play angry. Get after 12. I think we took it personal. When you hear the owner telling you that, man, you want to do exactly what he wants you to do because you know he’s going to watch that film and he’s going to point out who played angry and who didn’t. I think it was moreso to spark the leaders on this team.”

Lurie wasn’t the only one pulling out the stops. During their team meeting this week, Chip Kelly showed  a highlight reel featuring the best play of the team to remind them what they are capable of. And, not unlike his shower speech, Sam Bradford got vocal pre-game.

“He’s not a guy that talks a whole lot but when he does,” said Johnson of Bradford, “he creates a lot of energy.”

As the actions suggest, they knew it was going to take everything that was in the tank to pull off an upset of this magnitude.

“We were all on edge. We knew what was at stake,” said Johnson.

“[Lurie] was fired up probably as much as anybody. Very passionate. That got us fired up. Sam with his pre-game speech; special teams and defense creating big turnovers and touchdowns for us; just a lot of energy that we haven’t had in a long time…Most energy we’ve had all this season.”

TURNING POINT

Maybe it was coincidence. Maybe it was a direct response. But Chip Kelly gave Malcolm Jenkins exactly what he was looking for.

“Chip  really doesn’t coach the defense, so this has really been the first week where he’s actually coached me up,” the safety said. “I dropped one or two [interceptions] earlier in the week in practice, and so all week he’s been coaching me up on catching the football. I’ll be jogging from one drill to the next and he’ll just call my name and throw a ball at me, all week. He told me earlier in the week: ‘If you continue to just focus on this, you’ll get one this week, I promise you.’ For it to show up is obviously big on his part.”

With the game tied at 14-14, Tom Brady hit James White for a 24-yard pick-up that gave the Patriots a 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line. Jenkins made the first of two big plays by shooting into the backfield on first down to drop White for a loss of four.

Jenkins TFL

Two plays later, he turned the game on its ear.

Jenkins INT 2

“I just have to catch the ball. That’s the biggest thing,” said Jenkins, who has had his share of would-be picks slip through his fingers. “Every time I touch the ball I think I can score, to be honest. But that one, I caught it and it was a lineman and Tom Brady and I’m like, ‘I think I can get that.'”

Though it got interesting down the stretch, the Eagles never trailed from that point forward.

Jenkins had some strong words directed at the coaching staff this week about holding players accountable and taking time to correct mistakes amid the warp-speed training. It resonated with the veteran that Kelly took the time to work with him this week to help tighten up his game.

“I like to get coached. And if I’m doing something wrong, I like it to be addressed,” he said. “So it actually meant a lot to me. It really changed my mood throughout the  week, it changed my approach, and once he told me that I thought about it every single day and made sure coming into the game that it was front and center on my mind. And I think he made me better this week.”

SOCIAL SKILLS

Pass rush was the key, and they got it from their two OLBs (and then some)…

The job of breaking down the team pre-game usually goes to Jenkins or DeMeco Ryans. On Sunday, Vinny Curry got the nod. He had four QB hits on Brady.

The rookie called it pregame.

A reminder of what is on deck.

QUOTES OF NOTE

“Like I told the guys. We’re on a 5-0 mission…Before the game, last night, just tried to get it in their head that whatever happened before now is over with, it didn’t happen. Now we’re on a five-week schedule. Now it’s a four-week schedule.”

— Peters on his message to the team heading into the game.

“No, I mean that’s just kind of how we decided to go about it and we just didn’t execute. Like I said, give all the credit to the Eagles. They were prepared for everything we threw at them.”

— Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner, on the play selection of his kickoff with the Patriots leading 14-0.

“I feel so much better about myself now.”

— An Eagles staffer who (per Paunil) did the Aaron Rodgers discount double-check belt move and uttered the words above when victory was in hand.

“I thought I was early, but I got a good jump. I was surprised they didn’t call it, but that’s the name of the game, me and Jason Peters get called for false starts, but usually if they get you off the line, that’s going to be a sack. It was good though I’m glad they didn’t call it.”

— Lane Johnson on the key third down conversion to Riley Cooper that helped seal it.

“I think it was just one of those things that, you know, that I kind of felt like the time was right to say something and I just had that belief, had that confidence, know that we can go out there and if we do play well, we will win.”

Sam Bradford on what he told his teammates pregame.

“I made a commitment to this organization when they hired me, and I will see it through.”

— What Kelly told Peter King after the game about staying in Philly.

SNAP COUNTS

Off snaps Patriots

DeMarco Murray played just 14 snaps — two more than Kenjon Barner and 21 less than Darren Sproles. Kelly said that was due in part to matchups, but did note that they “talked about who’s competing, who’s playing and who gets an opportunity and every week is an evaluation” when asked about the decision to deactivate Miles Austin and limit Murray’s role…Jonathan Krause had eight snaps in place of Austin… The five starting offensive linemen played the entire game. I repeat…

Def snaps Patriots

Eric Rowe  made his first career start and held up well…A big plate-full for Ed Reynolds, who appeared to fill Chris Maragos’ old role when Billy Davis called on his subpackages (which was almost every down)…Vinny Curry saw a big jump in snaps, up from 15 against the Lions…The newly-signed Jaylen Watkins got a few snaps…Bennie Logan, who popped up late on the injury report with a knee, played just 21 percent of the time, though some of that can be attributed to the fact Davis roll with base much…Kiko Alonso apparently is off his snap count. He played 22 more snaps than Mychal Kendricks and 49 more than DeMeco Ryans.