It was wild. After three weeks of perhaps the most punishing, depressing and hopeless chatter in Philadelphia, the Eagles finally showed up. Oh yeah, and it was against Tom Brady and the defending champion Patriots.
Malcolm Jenkins had a lot to say earlier this week about the Eagles’ recent struggles. In Sunday’s 35-28 victoryagainst the Patriots, he said it with his play, picking off Brady in the end zone in the third quarter and taking it 100-yards to the house to put Philly ahead. He was joined in big-play heroics by Darren Sproles, who was not only the featured back in the Eagles’ offensive scheme he also returned his second put of the year for a score, 83-yards in a big third quarter for the Birds.
Brady on the other-hand, (29-for-56, 310 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions)the leading candidate for league MVP heading into the game appeared lost at times, making several costly throws that resulted in turnovers or three-and-outs. He did, however, lead New England on a comeback march that nearly tied things with just seconds left.
With Philly ahead by three scores, new England cut the lead to 14 with a touchdown pass to Scott Chandler midway through the fourth. New England also recovered a Philadelphia fumble a few plays later to begin to mount their comeback try. With four minutes to go, Brady found James White for 25 yards on a key fourth and 12 conversion to keep the Pats in the game and one play later he snuck into the end zone to cut the deficit to a single score.
The Pats recovered a fumble with a minute left (a Kenjon Barner run that could have sealed the deal) and completed a few passes before a fourth-and-ten pass hit the turf and ended the game.
Philly’s offense did just enough, collecting 248 yards on 58 plays, in comparison to New England’s 427 on 86 plays.
The Eagles held their own in the first quarter, putting pressure on Brady defensively and moving the ball with ease on offense. But the Birds committed five penalties and were unable to score, and eventually the Pats broke through, thanks in part to a big Scott Chandler reception to set up a little four-yard touchdown dink to James White early in the second.
RELATED LINK: Temple settles for Boca Raton Bowl
After the Eagles once again failed to piece together a viable drive, the Patriots seized control of the game using a potent, up the gut running game to set up Danny Amendola, wide open in the end zone on an 11-yard Brady strike to put the Pats up 14-0. The pass moved Brady past Dan Marino for third place on the all-time touchdown list (with 421).
After four punts on their first four drives the Eagles took advantage of a short field (after a Patriots failed onside kick) with Sam Bradford firing on all cylinders. After finding Jordan Matthews for 20-yards early in the drive, the QB, back after missing two starts with a concussion and shoulder injury, found Zach Ertz in the middle of the end zone. The deficit was cut in half, 14-7.
Chip Kelly aggressively used his timeouts as the first half waned, and for once, a Kelly decision paid odd as Chris Maragos blocked a Patriots punt with 15 seconds left. It was returned to the house by Najee Goode to tie things at 14-all after the first 30 minutes.
With the Patriots driving in the third, Brady threw his first ever interception to the Eagles, as New England fell behind (as the Eagles took their first lead in nine quarters of football), and a drive later punted to Sproles, who ran it back 83-yards.
A rare, 36-yard Danny Amendola-to-Brady completion stopped the bleeding for a moment, but shortly after Brady threw another pick in the end zone, this one to a cherry-picking Byron Maxwell.
The Eagles drove the field and added seven more on a strike to Jordan Matthews to give Philly a little insurance.