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Patriots Comeback Falls Short Against the Eagles, Quick Observations

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
2 weeks ago at 6:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

Patriots Comeback Falls Short Against the Eagles, Quick Observations[The Providence Journal / Kris Craig]

This game was right there for the taking. Having a first down at the Philadelphia 19-yard line with just over a minute to go, the opportunity to steal one from the Eagles was unfolding. But in the end, despite a decent comeback, it wasn’t enough, and the Patriots fell to the Eagles 25-20. 

Credit the Philadelphia defense, which really turned it on at crunch time. Remember, this is a team that had 70 sacks a year ago and may get even more this year. But, not to beat a dead horse here, these are the games the team has to start pulling out, especially at home, if they want to contend. 

The Patriots had a nightmarish first quarter with two turnovers and faced a 16-0 deficit, which ultimately proved to be too much as the sloppiness in the rain, put them in a bad spot. 

The first turnover was a 70-yard pick-six by Darius Slay. Jones’ pass to Kendrick Bourne was off-target and glanced off of Bourne’s fingertips and right to Slay, who took it to the house with some nice running. That made it 10-0. 

On the next possession, Ezekiel Elliott took a screen pass and fumbled, giving the Eagles a short field, and they converted when Hurts threw a five-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith, making the lead 16-0 after a missed extra point. 

Other Observations Include: 

Defenses Take Over

After the second Eagles TD, the defenses buckled down, and each team would go three-and-out three straight times.

Rookie punter Bryce Barringer contributed a couple of nice punts to keep the Eagles pinned back in their end, something that was sorely missing last season. The Patriots didn’t pick up their first first down until about halfway through the second quarter. But finally, they made some adjustments, and things began to click

The Patriots Offense Wakes Up

The offense kicked it up a notch after forcing the Eagles to punt for the third time. Jones hit Demario Douglas for 23 yards, which was good to see. He also made nice third-down conversion throws to Mike Gesicki and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Jones capped off the drive with a really nice throw up the seam to Hunter Henry for a nine-yard touchdown. 

Henry ran a nice route and broke toward the middle of the field, where Jones put the ball up high where only Henry could get it. In my pregame piece, I thought the Patriots could attack the middle of the field, as the Eagles had two new safeties and could have some issues before they tightened things up. 

Not only did that get the crowd into the game, but it was in the midst of Jones completing 11 straight completions. Right before halftime, the Patriots went on another long drive, topped off with Jones firing a dart to Kendrick Bourne from 19 yards out. Again, up the seam to make the score 16-14 at the half. remember him? He had six catches for 64 yards with 2 touchdowns. Bourne’s second TD came late in the game to make the score 25-20 on an 11-yard score. 

With the absence of a running game against a very stout Eagles front seven, Jones was forced to throw the ball 54 times, which does bode well for being balanced, but he completed 35-54 passes, for 316 yards and three touchdowns, along with the one interception. His passer rating was 91.3. 

Bill O’Brien mixed things up against a very good defense, starting with “12 Personnel” and even mixing in some “13 Personnel” (1 RB, 1 WR, 3 TEs). They ran some no-huddle, motion, and quick screens to help protect Jones from the Eagles pass rush.

Patriots’ Defense Steps Up Against Hurts and a Potent Offense

Facing a very difficult Philadelphia offense to stop a year ago, the Patriots’ defense showcased some speed, showed different looks, and played well. Jalen Hurts rushed nine times for 37 yards and passed for just 170. He finished 22-33 for 170, with one TD and 0 INTs for a passer rating of 89.2.

Hurts was sacked three times, with Matthew Judon, Josh Uche, and rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez getting his first sack of his NFL career.  Philadelphia gained just 251 total yards, with 97 on the ground and 154 through the air. The Patriots held them to just 4-13 on third-down conversions.

Eagles kicker Jake Elliott was a big part of why the Eagles came out on top, going a perfect 4-4 on field goals, including kicks of 58, 51, and 41 in the second half, which was the difference in the game. Making those in the rain at Gillette was not a walk in the park; he was spot on. 

  • Robert Kraft celebrated Tom Brady’s retirement at halftime and waived the rule for #12 to enter the team’s Hall of Fame. It will take place on 6/12/24.… Get it?
  • Rhamondre Stevenson had just 25 yards rushing on 12 carries but chipped in 6 catches for 64 yards, including a nice 32-yarder on the final drive.
  • Hunter Henry had five catches for 56 yards and a score. Mike Gesicki had 3 catches for 36. Not a bad first week for the TEs. 
  • It’s nice to see Demario Douglas involved with 4 catches for 40 yards.  
  • Finally, the OL with two rookie guards performed pretty well, allowing just two sacks (both later in the game), but it was a pretty good performance. The run blocking must improve. However, the pass protection was good. hum

As I mentioned above, I’m not big on moral victories, but this game was very winnable. They have to find a way to get over the hump and start putting victories together. I think the defense is legit, and the offense is beginning to come together. 

But another tough matchup awaits when the Dolphins come to Gillette next week.


Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Jalen Hurts Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Matthew Judon New England Patriots Patriots edge rushers Philadelphia Eagles

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