The Eagles lost the opening coin toss. The Patriots elected to defer so the Birds got the ball on offense first. Philadelphia got Darren Sproles involved early and often by throwing to him and handing off to him. It was working up until Lane Johnson got called for a holding penalty and forced the Eagles into a 3rd-and-long that they couldn't convert.
Tom Brady and the Patriots took over on offense and picked up a first down before having to punt. Connor Barwin helped the cause by notching a sack. The Eagles showed a new look in their nickel package by having Ed Reynolds, and not Chris Maragos, at safety.
The Eagles got off to a bad start coming out of the commercial break. They somehow committed a delay of game before then getting called for a false start. Kenjon Barner, whom Thom Brennaman referred to as Kenjawn Barner, dug the Eagles out of their hole by running for a first down. He sure looked faster than DeMarco Murray ever has this year. The success didn't last. A facemask penalty by Allen Barbre set the Eagles back and Sam Bradford threw short of the sticks on third down.
Eric Rowe almost picked off Brady after pass bounced off his receiver's hands. The rookie couldn't drag his foot to complete the play. Barwin sacked Brady on third down to force the Patriots punt on two straight drives.
After the Eagles went three-and-out, the Patriots struck back with a scoring drive. Brady's pass to Scott Chandler over the middle put New England in the red zone. The 6-2 Reynolds trailed in tight coverage but he just wasn't a match for the 6-7 Chandler. Then Brady hit James White wide open in the flat for the first touchdown of the game.
Another Eagles offensive drive, another punt. Nelson Agholor dropped a pass he should have caught. Then Bradford threw short of the sticks on third down again. There was a holding penalty to wipe out a potential first down anyway. A trifecta of awfulness.
The Patriots took advantage of Philadelphia's ineptitude once again by getting their second touchdown. This time Brady hit Danny Amendola with Walter Thurmond trailing way behind.
New England tried to catch the Eagles off guard with a surprise onside kick. It didn't work, and the Eagles started with good field position. They finally got something going on offense and moved into in the red zone. Bradford hit Zach Ertz in the back of the end zone for a touchdown on 3rd-and-goal. Great throw, great catch.
Philadelphia's defense forced a stop but the offense wasn't able to take advantage. Bradford was lucky Jerod Mayo dropped a short pass thrown directly at him. Bradford threw short of the sticks yet again and then the Eagles punted instead of going for it on 4th-and-8. What happened to that whole "Big Balls Chip" thing, again?
Chris Maragos came up HUGE blocked punt with only a few seconds remaining the first half. Najee Goode scooped and scored to tie the game. Who saw that coming? This led to the Patriots actually being booed by their own fans while heading into the locker room at half-time.
The Patriots got the ball to start the second half but didn't do anything with it. Brady, not Bradford this time, threw short of the sticks on third down but Thurmond made a great tackle to force a punt. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they couldn't take advantage of the stop. Bradford a pass to an open Ertz over the middle that was almost picked off. The ball was placed way too high. That was the second pass of the game where Bradford deserved to be intercepted. Bradford followed up his awful throw with another pass shorts of the sticks on third down.
It sure looked like Amendola fumbled after gaining possession of a catch to put the Patriots in the red zone but officials ruled it incomplete. The Patriots were in prime position to get their third touchdown, but then ... an interception!?! Malcolm Jenkins got the pick and took it 100 yards to give the Eagles the lead. What in the world!?
And then as if things weren't crazy enough, the Eagles took a two touchdown lead thanks to a punt return touchdown from Sproles! Just crazy. And then more craziness! This time, a trick play by the Patriots to actually throw to Brady for a big gain. AND THEN EVEN MORE CRAZINESS! Brady threw a terrible pass deep down the field that was easily picked off by Byron Maxwell in the end zone.
The Birds continued to relied on a heavy dosage of Sproles and Barner early in the fourth quarter. And it was working. They didn't totally abandon Murray, however. He had a nice 19-yard run to help put the Eagles in the red zone. The Eagles capped off the drive with a Bradford touchdown pass to Matthews. Once again, a good throw and a good catch. Amazing. A 21-point lead!
But it wasn't over there. The Eagles got conservative on defense and the Patriots put together a scoring drive. Brady hit Chandler once again to make it a 14-point game. Alonso trailed in coverage.
The Patriots went for the onside kick and they recovered it, because of course they did. The ball went through the hands of a wide open Ertz. New England moved into the red zone after Alonso fell down in coverage on fourth down. The Patriots eventually punched it in with a QB sneak to make it a one score game with three minutes remaining. Uh oh.
Riley Cooper came up big (say what?) by tipping New England's onside kick attempt out of bounds. Then he came up big AGAIN by making a catch for a first down on 3rd-and-11. Great job by Bradford to hang in the pocket despite pressure and deliver the throw. And then ... a fumble by Barner to give the Patriots the ball back. Man.
Brady got the ball back with less than a minute to go and no timeouts left. The Patriots were forced into 4th-and-10. Martin had the ball in his hands for a Patriots first down, but dropped it. GAME!
... WHAT JUST HAPPENED ...
Stay tuned for much more Eagles-Patriots post-game coverage.