It's the metaphorical calm before the storm around the NFL this week; the draft is right around the corner, the initial hubbub of the schedule release has died down somewhat, and in a lot of ways this is the last week where there won't be a whole lot of football-related news until June. So we may as well knock another number off our countown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 215.
The list so far:
20. In the span of two weeks, the Patriots make two trades to acquire and .
19. A decision to kick in OT backfires as the Jets beat the Patriots in Week 16.
18. Otherwordly phenom and greatest player of all time J.J. Watt is held completely ineffective as the Patriots secure a playoff spot against the Houston Texans.
17. Chandler Jones and Akiem Hicks team up for a strip sack touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.
16. Stopped in the backfield, LeGarrette Blount sheds tacklers and rumbles for a 17 yard gain against the Houston Texans.
Our Number 15 Moment would probably have ranked a lot higher under different circumstances, but since it came during an absolutely inexplicable home loss, I think it's very firmly where it belongs.
15. Danny Amendola and Tom Brady connect for some trickery against the Philadelphia Eagles.
There are two things that, for the most part, simply don't happen around Patriots Nation: the Patriots don't lose two games in a row, and the Patriots don't lose at home. So when New England, fresh off an OT loss to the Denver Broncos, came back to Foxboro to host the lowly Philadelphia Eagles, you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who thought that this wasn't going to be an easy victory and the chance for the Patriots to get right back on track and maintain their hold on the first overall seed in the AFC. Philly had lost their previous two games by a combined score of 90-31 and had absolutely zero chance of taking out a Patriots team who had suffered an OT loss due to some questionable officiating and injury.
Wrong. Special teams blunder after special teams blunder cost the Patriots and cost them dearly, and while New England would finally wake up late in the game, by then the damage had been done and Philly cruised to a borderline impossible 35-28 victory. Jaws dropped everywhere as folks started to wonder if all of the injuries had finally caught up to this team. With no Gronk, Lewis, or Edelman, there just might not be enough offensive pieces in place for the Patriots to beat anybody.
And while there's no real need to relive the entire game, there was one play in particular that, while indicative of how dire things were for the team offensively, represented a fantastic glimpse into just how versatile the playbook truly is. On 3rd and 3 with the Patriots trailing 28-14 late in the third quarter, New England came out in a 3 WR set on their own 25 with James White alone in the backfield. Tommy B, as he usually does, started barking commands at the line, attempting to direct receivers and adjust the cadence. As he walked towards the right side of the line, where Brandon LaFell was in the slot, the ball was snapped directly into White's hands, who followed a zone blocking scheme towards the left side of the field, looking for a HB sweep. The entire Eagles D shifted with White just as Danny Amendola came around behind him to receive the easy pitch for what looked like a reverse. As the Eagles descended on Amendola for what was sure to be a stop in the backfield, Tommy B broke into a run and Amendola hit him in stride for a 36 yard gain.
Gillette Stadium exploded. What had been a highly lackluster offensive performance all afternoon finally started to show some life by whatever means necessary. While it wasn't enough to get the job done at the end of the day, it was still a great play and a somewhat depressing reminder of what this team might have been capable of had everyone managed to stay healthy.
Plus, whenever you get Tommy B lumbering down the sidelines for a big gain, there's just no way it can't make a Top 20 List.
Check out the play here.