By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots (8-3) came into their latest game off of a victory last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, to face the Eagles (4-7) on Sunday. New England started slow, but eventually rolled in their 38-20 road victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles to their credit, came out strong, and were throwing deep early in this game. They certainly had the approach to attack the Patriots secondary through the air, and it certainly worked as they led early in the first quarter 10-0.
However, as the Patriots settled into the game, the offense took over as they took advantage of the Eagles glaring weakness which was their linebackers in the middle of the field. Tom Brady and company completely carved up the Eagles defense, and pulled away in the second half.
So what did we learn from watching the game Sunday?
The first thing we learned is that I really think Brady is back at full strength as his throws were on target with plenty of velocity on the ball. When Brady is accurate like he was against the Eagles, he has the ability to just go right down the field, and really take advantage of a defense.
The second thing we learned is the defense with all of their issues right now in the secondary can make stops, and get off the field. The Eagles were 4-of-13 which is 30% on third down conversions. That statistic is important as it shows the ability for the Patriots to get off the field, and get the ball back to Brady.
Now, the Eagles certainly had some drops, but some credit has to be given to this unit. There is no question that they are resilient and we’ve seen them fight through adversity this season. They continue to show character, even though some think they lack the talent to do it in the play-offs.
The third thing we learned is that talent isn’t the only ingredient to winning in the NFL. We have now witnessed the Patriots beat both the San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles who arguably have some of the best talent in the NFL. Yet both teams are currently 4-7, and probably won’t make the play-offs.
The reason the Patriots won those Super Bowls wasn’t based on just having the best talent. It had to with a combination of playing together as a team, and being well coached. Talent was a factor in those titles, but I think you need the other ingredients as well.
On offense, it was about Brady being one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and forcing the Patriots offense down the throats of the Eagles defense. Brady was 24-34 and threw for 362 yards with 3 touchdowns.
He completely carved up the middle of the field as he found his receivers. The running game wasn’t spectacular but very effective. BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the Patriots with 44 yards, but really made an impact with grinding out his carries. It was a complete offensive performance by the Patriots.
On defense, this unit gave up 466 yards which included 400 yards from Vince Young in the passing game. However, the Patriots defense only surrendered 13 points until the Eagles final drive when the game was completely wrapped up.
Also, they stepped up on key drives to stop several Eagles drives. Most notably was from the Patriots 2 yard line where the Patriots held on a fourth and 1 on a terrible pass in the end-zone by Young.
I keep going back to this statement about the Patriots defense, and the character that they are showing seriously cannot be denied. They proved against the Eagles that they can make that crucial stop when needed.
As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game and below is my analysis of ” My Five Keys To Victory For the Patriots Against The Eagles.”
1. The Patriots need to contain LeSean McCoy in this game. I have a feeling that stopping McCoy was the number one priority for the defense in this game. McCoy was kept in check as he only ran for a total of 31 yards. He had one run for 22 yards, but beyond that carry, he was not really the force that he had been in prior games. The Patriots did a nice job in limiting McCoy in this game.
2. The Patriots need to keep Vince Young in the pocket. I thought the defense did a nice job not letting Young outside to beat them with his legs. Young did throw for a ton of yards, but besides his early success, the Patriots kept him from really hurting them.
3. The offensive line needs to step up against the Eagles defense. Early, the Eagles did get to Brady, but this unit settled down, and was able to protect the quarterback. In the second half, they were phenomenal with protection, which certainly helped Brady find his receivers.
4. The Patriots need to focus on the running game. Green-Ellis did not run for a great deal of yards, but they were quality carries that helped move the offense. His runs probably opened up the play-action game. We also did see the young running backs as well which was encouraging. The running game was a factor in this game, and should continue to enhance the Patriot offense.
5. The middle of the field needs to be taken advantage of in the passing game. I think this is where the Patriots won the game. Brady found one on one coverage for Rob Gronkowski, and Wes Welker. It was pitch and catch after the first couple of drives for the Patriots.
The Eagles linebackers were horrible as Brady really carved them up. This was a major key in this game and the Patriots passed with flying colors.
So what did we learn from this game? The most important thing we saw in this game was the difference between a club that plays together as a team, and the other that is based on great talent that don’t seem to play well together. We learned that you need more than just talent to win in the NFL.
What are your reactions to the game? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the Patriots 38-20 victory against the Eagles.