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Eagles deflate Patriots: The Morning After

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Good morning campers,

 

And oh, what a good morning it is. Steve O was tied up this week, and he sure missed one for the ages.

 

In the history of Philadelphia sports upsets, there have indeed been some memorable ones: The Flyers over the Bruins in the 1974 Stanley Cup. Villanova (ugh, says the St. Joe’s graduate) over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA Championship Game, the Phillies over the Braves in the 1993 NLCS.

 

Well, as of yesterday, you can now add one more to that list.

 

Yes, I’m talking about our “beloved” Philadelphia Eagles’ 35-28 triumph over the defending Super Bowl champions. Everybody’s favorite cheaters, the New England Patriots.

TMA

 

Of course, those aforementioned triumphs carried far more serious implications than this December win taking place during an otherwise disastrous Eagles season.

 

That being said, after three consecutive losses against hapless Dolphins, Buccaneers and Lions squads, it’s only fitting that this Eagles team chock-full of schizophrenic tendencies, shocked the football world against a banged up Patriots team, giving New England their second consecutive loss for only the fifth time in Tom Brady’s career!

 

Let’s be honest, the number of people who actually thought this was a possibility are either lying through their teeth, or have a sports almanac similar to Biff’s from Back to the Future Part II. Anytime you can stick to the All-American quarterback who has a life of perfection, along with Mr. Sunshine himself, Bill Belichick, it's always enjoyable.

 

Let’s break it down!

 

HELLO OLD FRIEND

 

We’ve been waiting for Darren Sproles to be Darren Sproles all season, and that’s exactly what we got from him on Sunday. Prior to Sunday’s contest, Sproles had more than seven carries in a game just once this season. However, Sproles, who was the starting running back Sunday in place of DeMarco Murray, equalled that previous total and carried the ball for 44 yards on Sunday. By the half, his total yardage was 78, and Sproles wasn’t finished.

 

WELCOME BACK, SPECIAL TEAMS

 

Last season, the Eagles’ special teams played a key role in some of their biggest wins of the year. Until Sunday, that really hadn’t been the case in 2015. However, they showed up against the Patriots in a big way. With the Birds trailing by a touchdown at the end of the first half, Eagles’ safety Chris Maragos blocked a New England punt, which was recovered by Najee Goode for a game-tying touchdown. The momentum of the game changed on that play and the Eagles never looked back. Sproles later capped off an all-around great day with an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown.

 

While Chip Kelly insisted during the postgame press conference that Sproles was his starting running back because he matched up better against New England’s linebackers than Murray, let’s not kid ourselves: Murray is just not a fit for this offense. Sproles is. There’s no getting around it.

 

TENACIOUS D?

 

Of course, it’s easier said than done, but I’ve always insisted that you can beat the New England Patriots if you rattle Brady. After two consecutive weeks of surrendering 45 points a game, the Eagles’ D got their groove back, sacked Brady four times and applied constant pressure on him throughout most of the game. Also stepping up was Birds’ safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was quite vocal over the last week in regards to how the Eagles’ coaching staff handles their players, intercepted a Brady pass in the end zone and returned it for a 99-yard touchdown. Collectively, the 35 unanswered points allowed by the Patriots were the most they’ve surrendered in a game since 1993.

Snowball's Chance Ad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3RD DOWN CONVERSIONS

 

The Eagles didn’t score until their fifth possession of the game, when Sam Bradford converted a third down into a touchdown pass to Zach Ertz. Bradford also converted a crucial third down at the end of the game, enabling the Birds to keep possession of the ball after New England made things a little too close. He’s not perfect, but overall, Bradford didn’t make mistakes and defense and special teams did the rest.

 

PENALTIES, PENALTIES, PENALTIES

 

While there isn’t much to be negative about in regards to the Birds’ victory, penalties do continue to hurt this team. Five of them took place during the first seven minutes of the game. Overall, the Eagles accumulated close to 100 total penalty yards. This is often a momentum changer, and an area where the team desperately needs to improve.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Simply put, the Eagles’ season (or what’s left of it, really) was on the line, and the odds were heavily stacked against them. After all, the team hadn’t won a game in New England since yours truly was in the single digits. While speculation has always run rampant as to whether Chip Kelly will remain the Eagles’ coach since he joined the team, the outcome of this game, good or bad, could have possibly factored into Kelly’s decision to remain with the team next year (Contrary to reports, I think his fate could still be undetermined). As it turned out, however, not even Tom Brady can overcome the loss of a Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Dion James. Nonetheless, a win is a win, and it was arguably the most impressive victory of the Kelly era. That’s the beauty of the NFL. If someone had an L penciled in against Miami but a W against the big, bad Patriots prior to the start of the season, seriously let me know. You deserve a nice lunch.

 

As funny (and embarrassing) as it sounds, the Eagles are now tied for first place on Tuesday, thanks to the Cowboys victory over the Redskins on Monday night. In order to even stand a chance of winning the NFC East, the Birds have to win three of the next four games. LeSean McCoy is most likely itching to get a crack at his old team when the Buffalo Bills come into town next week. The Cardinals and two division games against the Redskins and Giants will close out the regular season. The natural instincts of any Eagles fan would figure Arizona to be the toughest upcoming contest. However, if there’s one thing the 2015 Philadelphia Eagles have shown us, it’s that nothing is either a sure thing or a guarantee.

 

For now, let's just savor this one for about six days.

 

Stay tuned.  

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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