If I can be real for a second, the New England Patriots loss to the Philadelphia Eagles felt like the late-season loss to the Green Bay Packers last year. Not so much in game script, although the final score was closer than expected. Not so much in quality of opponent, although the Eagles are technically in the NFC East race.
This just felt like a game that was meant to be a disaster. You'll see why, but this was a Three Stooges game of historic proportions that will probably never ever ever ever happen to the Patriots ever again. I'm not trying to say that the Patriots won't lose again, but they absolutely won't ever lose in this wonky fashion.
Love Damaris Johnson getting up after the sweep and just fading into the sideline Homer Simpson style— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) December 6, 2015
What makes this great is when the guy with the down marker plants his flag in the middle of the camera. Newly signed Damaris Johnson doesn't really know how to react at this point and he only actually saw three snaps on the field.
Personally, I think this should be the celebration of the future. Just act like you have no idea what's going on after a score and slowly back away to the bench. It's solid gold.
Eagles should probably just run every play. Patriots have allowed 55 yards on seven carries with no Hightower.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) December 6, 2015
Patriots have -17 yards on 5 passing plays. Patriots have 30 yards on 4 rushing plays. HMMMMM.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) December 6, 2015
Yeah, both teams probably should've never bothered throwing the ball early on. Over the first three quarters, before the game was fully cracked open, Tom Brady boasted a 3/10 statline for 36 yards, a touchdown, and an interception on first down. Running back LeGarrette Blount offered a paltry 3.20 yards per carry on 10 first down rushes.
The issue is that the Patriots were absolutely unable to convert any of their third down plays. New England had ten plays of 3rd and 3 or more, and only managed to convert three: two passes from Brady to Danny Amendola, and then one pass from Amendola to Brady.
The Eagles didn't respect any of the Patriots receivers other than Amendola and the Philadelphia defense could just send two players in coverage. The offensive line couldn't hold a block for more than two seconds, and the back-ups on the Patriots offense couldn't shake free.
New England really needs to think about dedicating a little more time to their rushing game, because at this point in time no one cares about it. And when defenses aren't worried about a rushing attack, they can just drop back into coverage, while the defensive linemen pin their ears back and hound the quarterback.
This is what Bill Belichick did to the sideline judge after Josh Kline was held by a defender, allowing a second pass rusher to stunt to the inside and sack Brady. It was pretty close to Darth Sidious using the lightning against Mace Windu. But that's just me.
Reminder to press: Belichick more likely to answer if you ask "Coach, can you tell us about the history of drop kicks as kickoffs?"— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) December 6, 2015
Now we know what Belichick was saying to the female ref... pic.twitter.com/t65lBEUtbC— Fitzy (@FitzyGFY) December 6, 2015
Jordan Matthews said Eagles considered the Patriots drop-kick onsides attempt as an insult.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) December 7, 2015
The dropkick is so far down the list of what actually changed the outcome of the game, but it still deserves criticism. The point of the drop kick was to catch the Eagles off guard and to give the Patriots a chance for some good field position. It's effectively a pooch kick that keeps the ball away from the dangerous Eagles returnmen, while also giving the Patriots a chance to recover.
The chance of recovering the football probably outweighs the difference of the opposition starting from the 20- and the 40-yard lines. From this standpoint it makes some sense.
But why at this point in the game?! Were the Patriots trying to bury the Eagles this early on? Up until this point in the game, Philadelphia had punted on four straight drives, picking up just 50 total yards. The Eagles hadn't shown an ability to move the ball. Instead, the kick ignited some sort of fire within the Eagles and they turned the game around.
Developments. Chandler drop on third-and-5 leads to blocked punt return for touchdown by Eagles Goode.— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) December 6, 2015
By the way, that was Scott Chandler's ninth drop of the season on the third down that led to the blocked punt.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) December 6, 2015
What does Scott Chandler have to do to redeem himself to Patriots fans at this point? He has to pick up at least 100 yards and a pair of scores, or crack 80 yards in consecutive weeks, right? Is he in the same category as Brandon LaFell right now, or alongside Aaron Dobson?
Chandler's averaging 60 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks, which isn't bad production. But man his drops are atrocious and he needs to figure out a solution two weeks ago.
Tom Brady's average time to throw: 2.13 with Julian Edelman healthy (Fastest in NFL) 2.65 without (8th slowest)— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 7, 2015
There's no question that the Patriots offense misses their receivers. It's not as simple as sliding Amendola into Edelman's spot in the progression, but it's the idea that Keshawn Martin and James White also have to step into the line-up. It's not good, but hopefully the reinforcements are right around the corner.
Only 1 team in NFL History has INT for TD, a Punt return for TD, and Block for TD: Eagles in 92, 14, and 15. WHAT https://t.co/4qBWG6Ix0e— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) December 6, 2015
You can't beat destiny.
How crazy is this? This type of game never happens, unless you're the Philadelphia Eagles. This won't happen again. I cannot state this enough.
This will not happen again.
The Patriots have suffered from two straight defeats where bizarre circumstances came into play. Denver won because the injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Dont'a Hightower were too much for the Patriots to overcome, and the Eagles won because they scored three wacky defensive and special teams scores.
These games happen, as unfortunate as they seem. The Patriots are still a contender and once they're healthy, they're still the best team in the league.
Any reporters headed to Belichick's postgame press conference better bring their shields and armor to fend off the death stares tonight— Michaela Vernava (@MichaelaVernava) December 6, 2015
We're on to Houston.