Eagles earn unlikely win vs. Patriots
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — They weren't playing for their coach.
They'd given up.
Their season was over.
The Philadelphia Eagles heard it all.
And then they simply responded with a stunning win over the New England Patriots.
Najee Goode scored on a blocked punt, Malcolm Jenkins returned an interception 99 yards for another touchdown and the Eagles held on for an improbable 35-28 victory over the Patriots on Sunday.
"Everything that people said we can't do — we've done before," safety Jenkins said. "We just needed to get back to whatever that was. People started to believe in themselves again."
Darren Sproles returned a punt 83 yards for the Eagles' second special teams touchdown, giving them a 21-point lead before the Patriots came charging back.
Losers of three in a row, the Eagles (5-7) had given up 45 points apiece in consecutive weeks heading into the game against the defending NFL champions and their Super Bowl MVP quarterback — Tom Brady.
"I've always been proud of them," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "Sometimes they don't see in them(selves) what I see in them."
All the Eagles did was score 35 straight points after falling into a 14-0 hole, tying the game on Goode's score after a blocked punt in the closing seconds of the opening half.
"I think we knew the type of team we were, but this is real confidence builder," tight end Zach Ertz said. "We know we can come into a hostile environment against a guy who has lost (very few games) in his career in this place and win a game against a very good team."
The Eagles had only 248 yards of offense, but it didn't matter because of their excellent special teams play.
"They just executed so well in everything they were doing," Patriots special teams specialist Nate Ebner said. "We didn't handle some things well and it cost us."
But — after opening a big lead — they had to hang on after Kenjon Barner fumbled at the New England 25-yard line with 62 seconds to play.
The comeback fell short when Brady's passes bounced out of his receivers' hands on three straight attempts.
Now it's the Patriots (10-2) on a losing streak — their first back-to-back, regular-season losses since 2012.
After falling behind 14-0, Philadelphia scored five touchdowns in a row — two on special teams, one on defense and two on offense.
Then the Patriots rallied.
Sproles had 66 yards rushing, 34 receiving and 115 more on punt returns — including an 83-yard touchdown that made it 28-14 with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
"After the first punt, our special team's coach came over to me and he said, 'We're gonna get one today,'" he said.
After missing the previous two games with a concussion and left shoulder injury, Sam Bradford completed 14 of 24 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
"I'm not sure anyone outside of this locker room gave us a chance to come in here and win tonight," Bradford said.
Just eight days removed from talk of an undefeated season, the Patriots' injuries began to take their toll.
Brady was without tight end Rob Gronkowski, top receiver Julian Edelman and No. 1 running back Dion James, and playing behind a reshuffled offensive line that couldn't protect him.
The Patriots took a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard pass from Brady to James White on the first play of the second quarter and made it 14-0 when Brady hit Danny Amendola from 11 yards with about 5 minutes left in the half.
But the Patriots, who possess in Stephen Gostkowski one of the best kickers in the league, decided on the ensuing kickoff to have Ebner drop-kick the ball off. The ball floated behind the first line of defenders, where Seyi Ajirotutu fielded it at his 41.
It took eight plays for the Eagles to go 59 yards, with Bradford connecting with Ertz from the 5 to make it 14-7. After stopping Philadelphia's two-minute offense and forcing a punt, the Patriots took over at their 13 and picked up a quick first down.
Ryan Allen's punt was blocked by Chris Maragos. Goode scooped it up and ran it 24 yards for the touchdown to send the teams into the break tied 14-all.
Brady had thrown just four interceptions all season — and had never in his career been picked off by theEagles. But he was charged with one when Jenkins grabbed a deflection and gave the Eagles a 21-14 lead midway through the third quarter.
When the Patriots were forced to punt on their next possession, Sproles broke free for an 83-yard touchdown.
NOTES: Kelly wasn't about to call it his most important win as a coach of the Eagles, but he was very happy with the duo they defeated. "We're very proud to win this game," he said. "You have a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback, and you have first-ballot Hall of Fame coach."