The Birds got off to a nice start in this one, coming up with two takeaways to jump out to 16-0 lead. But then the offense went cold with four straight three-and-outs to allow the Patriots to pull within two points of tying the game at halftime. New England had a lot of success attacking the worrisome middle of Philly’s defense.
It looked like the Eagles were in good position to put the game away by holding the Patriots scoreless to take an 11-point lead with 5:33 remaining in the game. But a lot of sloppy mistakes allowed New England to nearly come out with the win on their final drive.
This game serves as a reminder that winning in the NFL typically isn’t easy. That much may have been forgotten with the Eagles being so dominant last year. But it’s a new season and it’s not as simple as picking up where they left off in 2022.
The Eagles clearly have a lot to work on. A lot of coaches and players — Jalen Hurts with his late-game turnover included — need to be a lot better moving forward. Despite being loaded with talent, the Eagles’ offense only got in the end zone once. Not a good debut for Brian Johnson. The defense did some good things but was also vulnerable in key moments and was aided by some really bad Patriots drops. Special teams continued to be an issue at times.
That said, Philly should feel very fortunate to have Jake Elliott on their side. The Eagles’ kicker came up big with field goal makes from 32, 56, 48, and 51. And this despite having to kick in the rain.
Again, not a pretty win. But the Eagles are 1-0 with a chance to go to 2-0 if they can beat the Minnesota Vikings — who just lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Time to quickly turn the page.
Read on for a recap and stay tuned for BGN’s postgame coverage.
- The Eagles lost the coin toss and got the ball first. Jalen Hurts’ first pass of the season was a six-yard completion to ... Kenneth Gainwell, the first running back in the game. The Eagles were fortunate that a low shotgun snap by Jason Kelce dropped by Hurts that went for a big loss was actually turned into a first down by a Patriots offside penalty. Gainwell took the first carry of the game and it went for 16 yards thanks to good blocking from the Eagles’ offensive line. Gainwell took two more carries for another first down. D’Andre Swift entered the game after Gainwell’s fourth carry went for yet another conversion. Facing 3rd-and-11 from just outside the red zone, Hurts took off running with a QB draw to get to the 9-yard line. Nice job by Gainwell with a lead block on the conversion. After two short Gainwell runs, Hurts was sacked by an unblocked Matthew Judon rushing on a blitz. Didn’t love running on the first two plays there. Maybe actually target one of DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, or Dallas Goedert? Nice job moving the ball but should’ve been seven points. Jake Elliott hit the 32-yard field goal. EAGLES 3, PATRIOTS 0.
- The Pats picked up two first downs before a high throw by Mac Jones bounced off his receiver’s hands and into the air for Darius Slay to easily pick off. Big Play Slay took it to the house for six! Gift of an interception but a pretty nice return by the veteran CB. Also, on the play prior to the pick, Jalen Carter had an eye-opening snap. EAGLES 10, PATRIOTS 0.
Jalen Carter is going to be a PROBLEMpic.twitter.com/iXA5zch81e— Barstool Philly (@BarstoolPhilly) September 10, 2023
- Jordan Davis got out to Ezekiel Elliott in space on a screen to force a fumble for a Zach Cunningham recovery!
- The Eagles took over with prime field position at the Pats’ 26-yard line. A Hurts sack was wiped out by a defensive holding call to set up 1st-and-goal at the 5-yard line. Hurts sprint out to DeVonta Smith for a touchdown. Hurts and DeVonta made it look easy. Jake Elliott missed the extra point attempt wide right. EAGLES 16, PATRIOTS 0.
- The Eagles’ kickoff coverage unit allowed a 43-yard return. So glad that Michael Clay is inexplicably back with a raise and extension? On third down, Carter got pressure on Mac Jones to flush the quarterback out of the pocket and into an incompletion that brought up a punt.
- The Eagles went three-and-out with a Hurts throw #ShortOfTheSticks to a crossing Brown on third down to end the first quarter.
- The Patriots started in Eagles territory after a 50-yard Arryn Siposs punt was returned by Marcus Jones for 21 yards. More special teams issues, fun! The Pats ultimately went three-and-out with Avonte Maddox breaking up a pass. Maddox bumped the receiver a little early ... but no flag thrown to the Eagles’ benefit. New England punted from the Eagles’ 44-yard line.
- The Eagles went three-and-out after a third down bubble screen to DeVonta Smith went for no gain. POSITIVE SPECIAL TEAMS MOMENT ALERT: Sydney Brown put a big hit on Marcus Jones to force a 1-yard loss on the return.
- The Patriots went three-and-out after a wide open JuJu Smith-Schuster dropped a sure-fire first down. Don’t you feel so bad for TikTok boy?
- Boston Scott got his first touch on a coward’s draw to bring up another Eagles three-and-out. ANOTHER POSITIVE SPECIAL TEAMS MOMENT: Josh Jobe laid the wood on Marcus Jones on the punt return. Kudos to Fletcher Cox on the sideline for stepping in front of Jobe to prevent the young cornerback from standing over Jones and getting a taunting penalty. Veteran move.
- The Patriots picked up their third first down of the game about halfway through the second quarter. Jones aired it out deep ... and Slay was able to recover from a trailing position to almost pick off the ball. Nice work. But then a bad job getting lost in traffic to leave JuJu wide open on a crossing pattern for a first down. Two more Jones completions set up 1st-and-goal from the 10-yard line. Then Jones floated an accurate pass up the seam to Hunter Henry for the Patriots’ first score. 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive allowed by the defense. EAGLES 16, PATRIOTS 9.
- A first-down completion to A.J. Brown got called back for a chop block despite merely accidentally tripping into a defender’s legs. Instead of 1st-and-10 from the Eagles’ own 40-yard line, it was 2nd-and-21 from the 21-yard line. Swift dropped Hurts’ third down pass that was #ShortOfTheSticks. Fourth straight three-and-out. After Arynn Siposs punted the ball too late in fear of it getting blocked, the Eagles got called for an ineligible downfield kick. Hooray, the return of sloppy special teams.
- The Pats took over at their own 37-yard line. New England continued to work the middle of the field to move the ball with relative ease. Jones connected with Kendrick Bourne for a 19-yard touchdown with James Bradberry trailing in coverage. So much for a strong defensive start. EAGLES 16, PATRIOTS 14.
James Bradberry playing like he has safety help— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) September 10, 2023
Justin Evans never gets to the middle of the field
Eagles' spacing in coverage right now is really really bad. A lot of players looking at one another after passing plays trying to figure out who was where. pic.twitter.com/XnDhfFClnF
- The Eagles took over at their own 25-yard line with 0:25 on the clock and two timeouts remaining. They ran out the clock to end the first half ... on a low note ... going into Tom Brady’s halftime retirement ceremony. Weaksauce to wave the white flag.
2017 NFCCG, Eagles ball, 20 yard line, 29 seconds. 3 plays, 60 yards, and a 38-yard FG going into the half. Loser energy taking a glorified kneeldown and running into the tunnel. https://t.co/WcANfSQ6ng— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) September 10, 2023
I would say Gainwell/Swift/Quez having the same amount of targets as AJ/DeVonta/Goedert is not ideal.#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 10, 2023
- The Patriots opened up the second half by going three-and-out. The Eagles were very fortunate that Kayshon Boutte just barely mismanaged to get a second foot inbounds to convert a 3rd-and-4.
- Covey returned a punt 25 yards (second-longest of his career) to set the Eagles up at their own 29-yard line. Hurts’ first pass of the second half was a 15-yard completion over the middle to, who else, A.J. Brown. The Eagles converted another first down with good push from the offensive line on a 3rd-and-3 Gainwell run up the middle. The offense got set back with an avoidable holding penalty on Jordan Mailata. Hurts aired it out to DeVonta, who had a step, but Jabrill Peppers came flying in to break the pass up. Hurts’ second down pass went way high out of bounds since his arm was hit.
- Facing 3rd-and-20, the Eagles called another coward’s draw. Boooooo. ANOTHER special teams error: the Eagles had to burn a timeout to properly set up the field goal unit on a 56-yard attempt by Jake Elliott. Fortunately, Elliott drilled the kick. Big make. EAGLES 19, PATRIOTS 14.
Jake Elliott, who is the #Eagles’ all-time leader in 50+ yard FGs, connects on a 56-yarder to make it a 19-14 score in the third quarter.— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) September 10, 2023
The 56-yarder is tied for the 3rd-longest FG of Elliott’s career (61 yards on 9/24/17 vs. N.Y. Giants; 58 yards on 10/10/21 at Carolina).
- The Patriots got hit with a bad holding penalty to knock them back to 2nd-and-17. Blankenship nearly had a pick but offensive pass interference on New England went uncalled. The Pats got called for holding again to get knocked back to 3rd-and-21. On third down, the Patriots ran a bubble screen that lost five yards after the receiver broke a tackle but then ran backwards and slipped. Knocked out fof ield goal range after previously getting as far as the Eagles’ 28-yard line. The Pats punted from 4th-and-26 at the Eagles’ 43-yard line and the ball bounced right into the end zone for a touchback. A mere net 23 yards.
- The Eagles got to 3rd-and-3 with a couple short gains. On third down, Hurts avoided getting sacked by oncoming rushes and scampered for a first down. Pretty clutch maneuvering.
- Hurts took a deep shot to A.J. Brown and overthrew him in the end zone while Dallas Goedert, with zero targets, was coming wide open. Hurts seemed to miss Goedert again on the next play. The Eagles got to 3rd-and-7 from the Pats’ 30-yard line. On third down, Hurts FINALLY targeted Goedert but overthrew the tight end by a considerable amount despite having his feet set in the pocket. The Eagles brought Jake Elliott in for a 48-yard field goal ... and the kick bounced off the left upright ... but still over the bar for three points. Phew. Still a one-possession game. EAGLES 22, PATRIOTS 14.
- Josh Sweat nearly intercepted a Jones screen pass meant for Elliott. Sooo close. Ugh. Instead, the deflection brought up a 3rd-and-10. On third down, Blankenship ranged over to make a great open field tackle to force 4th-and-8. The Pats went for it ... and converted with a crazy one-handed catch by Henry over the middle. Fletcher Cox (!) came up with a big run stuff for no gain to bring up 4th-and-3. On fourth down, Cox and Haason Reddick pressured Jones into a throwaway for a turnover on downs. Big stop by the defense.
- Hurts deep to Brown for 48 yards ... is challenged (late, after the Eagles snapped the ball?!) by Bill Belichick and successfully overturned. I don’t know how you can say that was 100% not a catch. Maybe as much as 99% ... but that’s not the standard! In any case, Hurts threw back-to-back completions to Brown for gains of 23 and 15 yards. The Pats got hit with defensive holding for another Eagles first down. But then Hurts took an 8-yard sack and the Eagles had to burn another timeout with the ball nearly not being snapped in time. Facing 3rd-and-11, Hurts hit Brown underneath to set up a 51-yard Elliott field goal attempt. The kick ... was money all the way! Two-possession game with 5:33 to play. EAGLES 25, PATRIOTS 14.
- The Pats broke off a 32-yard gain on a screen play in part due to a missed tackle by Christian Elliss. Shortly after, the Pats marched into the red zone. And then Jones hit Bourne for another touchdown. So much for the game being over. Poor tackling, soft coverage ... awful. 75-yard scoring drive in just 1:56 of game time. The Pats went for two ... and Brandon Graham got tackled to draw a holding penalty. The Pats went for two again from the 12-yard line ... and Cunningham almost picked it but couldn’t make the catch. Still prevented the extra score. EAGLES 25, PATRIOTS 20.
- After a squib kick, the Eagles took over at their own 27-yard line with 3:35 left in the game. Hurts took off running on a QB draw and ... fumbled the ball for a Patriots recovery. UHHH, NOT GOOD! Why are they even running Hurts in that scenario? Bleed the clock with OL leading the way for the running backs.
- The Pats took over at the Eagles’ 41-yard line. The Birds’ first sack of the game came with Jordan Davis and Josh Sweat getting Jones down with 2:54 remaining. On third down, Jones was pressured into an incompletion. The Pats went for it on 4th-and-12 ... and a delay of game made it 4th-and-17. Then the Eagles called their final timeout right before the snap, perhaps to get a look at what the Pats wanted to do? Jones’ fourth down pass was short of the sticks and dropped by Henry. Sigh of relief.
- The Eagles took over at their own 48-yard line with 2:20 left in the game and New England having three timeouts to work with. The Eagles got to the two-minute warning with a Hurts run to bring up 4th-and-2 at the Patriots’ 44-yard line. Nick Sirianni decided to go for it instead of punting. Good approach, take control and end the game. On fourth down, Hurts hooked DeVonta early to help him get a PBU for the turnover on downs. No flag.
- The Patriots took over at their own 44-yard line with 1:57 on the clock and one timeout remaining. Maddox had a nice leaping PBU to bring up 3rd-and-1. The Patriots converted with a short run and then drove into the red zone. A blitz (!) called by Desai forced Jones to step up into pressure and get sacked by Jalen Carter, the first of his career. On 4th-and-11, Jones completed a pass at the marker for a first down ... except it wasn’t. Kayshon Boutte, who failed to get both feet in-bounds earlier, did it again to bring up a turnover on downs.
- Victory formation by the Eagles to close it out.
FINAL SCORE: EAGLES WIN, 25 to 20
- Kenneth Gainwell was the starting running back.
- Justin Evans started at safety next to Reed Blankenship.
- Zach Cunningham started at linebacker next to Nakobe Dean.
- Britain Covey was the punt returner, as expected.
- Boston Scott was the kick returner, as expected.
- Reed Blankenship got banged up while making a tackle midway through the second quarter. He missed two snaps before returning.
- Nakobe Dean slowly walked to the locker room late in the third quarter. He was ruled questionable to return with a foot injury. He did re-enter the game.
- Fletcher Cox went down late in the fourth quarter. He walked off on his own power.
- James Bradberry had to leave very late in the game after a helmet-to-helmet hit from teammate Terrell Edmunds.