Philadelphia Eagles Lose Second Road Game 35-42 To Patriots
Perhaps it was the feeling of unfinished business, but the August 15, 2014 felt anything but a preseason game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Adding to the electricity in the air was the knowledge that there would be plenty of drama on the field, if not on the scoreboard. Position battles would play out on this night.
Even the rosters leading up to game day gave some semblance of the NFL trying to get it right up to the last second, as New England continued to work their roster while the Eagles tried to get their starters healthy. Going into the game, the sense I had was that if a victory could be “needed” in the preseason, that urgency fell more-so onto the Philadelphia Eagles. Regardless of the outcome, Brady, Bellicheck, and the boys would be just fine. In Philadelphia, trying to get a feel of exactly what they have and do not have, a good showing would be a great indicator to fans, coaches and players. The Eagles did not appear to answer “the bell” in their previous game versus Chicago, and looked to build some momentum at the expense of New England.
I can summarize the Eagles in two words: Penalties and Turnovers.
The game opened with the Eagles kicking off. Giving the ball to Tom Brady is a bad strategy in regular season, but I wanted to gauge the eagles defense. New England, in keeping with 2013 strategy, ran the ball very effectively. On second down, a defensive holding penalty gave New England a first down. The stage was set. The game would be a long night.
After looking less than stellar, cornerback Cary Williams jumped a route where the receiver turned the wrong way and just like that he ran the ball into the end zone for a pick six and an early Eagles lead. The interception ended the night for Cary Williams and cornerback Curtis Marsh, who had a good week of practice, took over. In practically no time, Brady tosses a 15 yard touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins while Curtis Marsh tried to defend. In the Eagles first possession, quarterback Nick Foles tossed a completion to wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah, who was stripped of the ball and New England recovered.
The Patriots wasted no time as rookie quarterback Jimmy Garropolo threw a touchdown strike to James Develin. Pats up 14-7.
After a three and out by the Eagles offense, the Patriots jumped back onto the scoreboard with a 75 yard scoring drive capped by a Garoppolo pass to Brandon Lafell. Pats lead increased to 21-7.
The Eagles offense began to click, as Nick Foles found tight end Brent Celek for a desperately needed 23 yard gain. After runs by running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, the Eagles found a fourth down and four yards at the New England 29 yard line.
Alex Henery, who needs to win back the fans, missed the field goal and a chance to win back support.
After the Eagles defense FINALLY held the Patriots to a three and out series, wide receiver Arrelious Benn blocked the ensuing punt. Foles once more tossed a strike to Celek for 22 yards. Then at third and goal, Foles tossed a touchdown pass to the other tight end, Zach Ertz. The Eagles stopped the Patriots to get to the two – minute warning, and the now Sanchez led offense added a feather to wide receiver’s Arrelious Benn‘s cap by tossing a pass to Momah who lost the ball and it was immediately caught by Benn in the end zone.
In the second half, an interception thrown by Mark Sanchez led to a New England score. After exchanging scores, a Momah fumble (his second of the night) led to the final touchdown for New England.
In the end, the final score was 42-35. But the game seemed so disconnected with the cascade of penalty flags (ten against Philadelphia, eleven against New England) and the turnovers, that it seemed to be more one sided. In the end, Nick Foles (8-10, 81 yds 1 TD) outgunned Tom Brady (8-10, 81 yards, 1 TD 1 INT), practically every running back on the New England Patriots outrushed LeSean McCoy, and Jordan Matthews caught nearly anything thrown his way (9 catches for 104 yards).
Jordan Matthews was the closest thing to perfection on the Eagles roster tonight. After a shaky start against the Chicago Bears, the rookie wide receiver restored the polish to his star.
Arrelious Benn made a spectacular special teams play in blocking a punt to get the Philadelphia Eagles back into the game before it completely got away from them. He followed that up with a highlights reel touchdown reception from teammate Ifeanyi Momah’s near catch.
Henry Josey may be a little guy, but he played awfully big in rushing for 56 yards and one 27 yards touchdown pass reception.
Curtis Marsh did not look ready for prime time. Whatever his keys were, he must have read them backwards. The kind of night you can only hope he learns from and places behind him. His only consolation is that Tom Brady gives many cornerbacks bad nights.
Ifeanyi Momah was another player who had great practice week reviews, but showed up to fumble twice and nearly lost a touchdown in the end zone if not for the heroics of teammate Arrelious Benn. A forgettable night.
Turnovers. From 2013 hugely positive turnover ratio which bolstered the Eagles to win the NFC East, tonight was a second week of surrendering four turnovers. Turnovers kill teams. Period. The Eagles will need to correct this quickly.
Penalties : The Eagles have committed 19 infractions for 175 penalty yards in two games.
The good news is that the Eagles offense has scored 63 points in two preseason games. The bad news is that it appears they need to average more than 38 points a game to get wins.
Several key Eagles were injured in the game.
Cornerback Cary Williams suffered a hamstring injury during his 77 yard interception return in the first quarter. He did not return.
Wide Receiver Josh Huff suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter during a kickoff return. Taking a ball from deep in the end zone out to the 17 yard line, Huff appeared to have pain in his shoulder after the play and did not return.
Cornerback Brandon Boykin appeared to injure his leg in the second quarter while blocking a punt, but was later rumored to be muscle cramps. In any case, he did not return to the game.
As a short aside, I spent the night dining with the parents of New England Patriots Jordan Devey. While the NFL network listed him as a third string option at left tackle, the Patriots had him working with the second team at guard and tackle and he remained out to work with the third string as well. He made some very good plays and I have no doubt he will make their roster. I promised Kerry and Leslie Devey that I would mention them in my article. Despite the pain of seeing the Eagles fall short, it was awfully heartwarming to see a set of parents watch their son play NFL football. I won’t forget the experience anytime soon. Good Luck Jordan!