Best and worst: Eagles 35, Patriots 28
WORST sight to see
Another game, another injury - of course. This time it's to special teams ace Matthew Slater, who seems to go down with some type of injury almost every week. Slater made a special teams tackle and stayed down on the field looking to be in some pain. He eventually walked off on his own, but it was announced later that his return was questionable due to a "stinger". He did eventually return, but a stinger is a very painful nerve injury, fairly common in contact sports.
WORST direction to go in - backwards
Still a 0-0 game as both the Eagles and Patriots fail to score on their first drive. The Patriots then punted away to the Eagles, who now have another chance at scoring first. So what do they do? Go the wrong way. There was a 10-yard penalty on the punt pushing the Eagles back to their 20-yard line. Then, another penalty before the drive began -- delay of game. Move it back five more yards. And THEN we got a false-start penalty on Jason Peters that pushed them back ANOTHER five yards. First-and-20 from the 10-yard line. Figure it out, Eagles. Amateur hour over here.
BEST Gronkowski impression
Nobody can replace Rob Gronkowski. Ever. There is only one Gronk . . . on and off the field. But dang it, Scott Chandler is going to give it his best shot. After a quiet first two drives, Brady hit Chandler for a 30-yard completion that put the ball down at the six-yard line and set the Patriots up for . . .
. . . a four-yard touchdown catch by Jimmy White. White basically went uncovered off the line and made for an easy throw from Brady to the outside. White had no issue scoring. In most cases, you'd put a body on someone in hopes to prevent them from scoring. But this is the Eagles, after all. It was Brady's 421st career touchdown pass, moving him into sole possession of third place past Dan Marino.
Danny Amendola missed just one game with a knee injury and made his presence felt in his return with an extremely impressive touchdown reception to put the Patriots up 14-0. Brady kind of heaved it up for 'Dola in the corner of the end zone and he was able to sprawl out for the catch and stay in bounds. Good to have you back, Danny. 14-0 Patriots and put it in the books!
BEST um, what?
For whatever reason, Bill Belichick decided that Stephen Gostkowski wasn't going to perform the kickoff after they went up 14-0. That duty was going to Nate Ebner, the former rugby standout, who did one of those rugby dropkicks in hopes to catch the Eagles off-guard. Well, it didn't catch them off-guard. They recovered the football at their own 41-yard line and had a short field to work with . . . and marched the rest of the way for a touchdown. That drive included a key 3rd-and-10 catch by Jordan Matthews. Hindsight is 20/20, but man, you have to wonder if things would have gone differently had Gostkowskki just kicked off and the Eagles took over on their 20-yard line.
WORST special teams
Oh, boy. We saw the effect special teams had in the Patriots' loss to the Broncos last week. Could it once again have a similar affect? After another Scott Chandler drop on third down, the Patriots were forced to punt from their own 38-yard line with under ten seconds remaining in the half. But safety Chris Maragos came in and blocked the punt! It was recovered by linebacker Najee Goode and returned for a touchdown. Umm . . . what the $%^ just happened?! All of a sudden we have a tie game? I'm confused. The Pats were up 14-0 and the win probability was hovering around 99-percent. Now it's tied going into the half.
WORST time for an interception
The Patriots had prime field position to begin their drive as they looked to take back their lead. What started on the Eagles' 46-yard line ended on the Eagles 5-yard line, as Brady threw an interception to Malcolm Jenkins on a ball intended to Amendola. Jenkins then took the ball back to the house for a 100-yard interception return. Yes, folks, you read that right. Brady tried (somewhat hilariously) to stop him, but he didn't have a chance. Stunning turn of events.
WORST special teams, part II
OK, we get it. WE GET IT! Special teams matters! It matters, OK?! We don't need any more examples . . . but unfortunately, the Patriots got one. How about this: An Eagles punt return for a touchdown. Yes, Darren Sproles took a punt back 83 yards for a touchdown thanks to a couple key blocks in the beginning, and a missed tackle by Ryan Allen, who was the only guy left in the way. It's officially the "Our pets heads are falling off" moment for the Patriots in this game, as they're now down 28-14 and look flat on all three sides of the ball (we get it, we get it . . . ).
WORST Tom Brady?
Theres a question mark at the end of this one because it feels so weird to write. And it's too early to say who's really at fault for Brady's second interception because it was a scrambled play, but the ball ended up in the hands of Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell, who was wide open in the end zone. LaFell was nowhere near him.
The Patriots were down 21 points in the fourth quarter before they easily marched 71 yards down the field on seven plays for a touchdown - Brady to Chandler. That was fine and dandy but didn't do a whole lot to change what most people thought was a loss. And then . . . they recovered an onside kick. And now you're starting to say to yourself, "Well, wait a minute here . . . there's still about five minutes left in this game . . ." Why do we do this to ourselves?!
BEST emergency use player
James White had himself a nice day, and came up huge on the Patriots' second touchdown drive of the fourth quarter. Whit caught four balls on the drive for a total of 43 yards, including a 25-yard reception on 4th-and-12 that kept the drive alive. All in all, White finished with 10 receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown, and looks to be a guy Brady trusts out there as he awaits the return of Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.