Patriots

Turning Point: Patriots pounce on Eagles late second-quarter brain cramps

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Turning Point: Patriots pounce on Eagles late second-quarter brain cramps

PHILADELPHIA -- The Patriots defense is too good. The Eagles offense is too depleted. Given the matchup, the self-inflicted wounds from Carson Wentz and his teammates at the end of the first were the kinds of wounds Philly couldn't withstand.

The Turning Point in this one came early. And it came during what Bill Belichick would call a critical "situational football" moment. 

At the end of the first half, following a Patriots field goal that brought the score to 10-6, the Eagles stumbled. Two plays into their drive, with just over two minutes remaining, Wentz was sacked by Danny Shelton and fumbled. It looked like Wentz, dealing with replacements throughout his receiving corps, hesitated for a moment, allowing the pass-rush to get into his space. As the ball squirted loose, Lawrence Guy was there to snatch it.

The Patriots did nothing offensively, gaining just one yard on four plays, but they kicked another field goal to make it a one-score game. Free points. 

The Eagles then had something going during their next drive, which started with just under two minutes left. They completed a pass to Nelson Agholor for 11 (which drew sarcastic cheers from the home crowd because of Agholor's reputation for having inconsistent hands). They completed a pass to Zach Ertz for 12. Ertz caught another for eight. 

Philadelphia was suddenly at the 44-yard line of the Patriots, right on the edge of field goal range. How did they capitalize? 

They allowed an Adam Butler sack for a loss of three, but remained within striking distance of field-goal range. All they needed was a positive play on third down.

What happened next for them was not positive. 

Center Jason Kelce snapped one past Wentz, who went scrambling after it like a toddler chasing a Super Ball. He was touched down by Kyle Van Noy for a loss of seven, and the Eagles were forced to punt from their own 46.

The Patriots dodged a bullet, went into the locker room facing a one-point deficit, and came out swinging in the third. 

Going to the hurry-up style attack that carried them at times in Baltimore in Week 9, the Patriots rattled off 10 plays that covered 84 yards and resulted in a Julian Edelman double-pass touchdown to Phillip Dorsett. 

A 30-yard screen pass to Rex Burkhead -- that required a deft pump-fake-shovel-toss from Tom Brady and a broken tackle from Burkhead -- was the key in getting the Patriots into double-pass territory. And it was a nicely-schemed pass that went from Brady to Edelman to Dorsett, with a fake screen designed away from the play to draw the defense. 

But without those Eagles mistakes going into the half, the game likely has an entirely different feel going into the locker room. The Patriots, inept as they were at times with the football -- they went one-for-three in the red zone and five-for-15 on third down -- capitalized.

Undermanned and overwhelmed offensively for the rest of the game, Wentz and the Eagles couldn't afford to open the door for the Patriots at the end of the second quarter. But they did. And they paid for it.

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Sources: Tom Brady and family preparing to leave New England

Sources: Tom Brady and family preparing to leave New England

Tom Brady doesn't officially become a free agent until the new league year begins on March 18, but the rumors are already flying about the New England Patriot quarterback's future.

A report surfaced earlier in the week that Brady and his family purchased a home in Greenwich, Connecticut. As NBC Sports Boston's own Tom E. Curran pointed out, that is false.

But that doesn't mean Brady isn't planning on making a move.

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Thursday night on "Arbella Early Edition," Gary Tanguay revealed that a source told him Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen are looking to leave New England.

"I was told today by a source the family is planning to leave the area," Tanguay said. "The priority this time is to let the kids finish school this year, then they're gone."

Tanguay's report doesn't mean Brady is definitely leaving New England, but talks of him and his family looking to live somewhere else continue to gain steam.

If Brady indeed is moving on from New England and looking to start a new chapter, some of that could do with his desire to finally make the money he's worth in free agency.

According to Tanguay, Brady is "embarrassed" by the number of quarterbacks in the league that make more than him and has been fed up about it dating back to the summer, before he signed his contract extension.

Thirteen quarterbacks, including Brady's former backups Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, make more on average annually than the six-time Super Bowl champion according to overthecap.com.

The truth is, we won't know for certain what's going through Brady's mind until the ink is on paper for the 42-year-old's new contract. Until then, it's going to be a stressful offseason for Patriots fans.

Curran: Is this newfound time a silver lining for Patriots?

Patriots Talk Podcast: What exactly are the Patriots up to right now?

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Patriots Talk Podcast: What exactly are the Patriots up to right now?

Needless to say, it's unusual for the New England Patriots to have so much down time in January. Typically, they're playing in the AFC Divisional Round. And the AFC Championship Game. And often, the Super Bowl.

But this year, they were eliminated in the Wild Card Round for the first time since 2009. And now, they have a lot of time on their hands.

And while their early playoff exit was surely discouraging, the Patriots could stand to benefit from this extra time.

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On the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discussed how the Patriots could utilize the extra time and the positive impact it could have on the organization.

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Curran pointed out that because the team has so often been playing into February, their already thin staff has been stretched thin come draft season, which explains why the team has had some draft misses in recent seasons.

Really, it comes down to 312 days of prepreparation were sacrifice. And so for a bare bones organization in terms of both front office and coaching staff -- these guys have had shorter offseasons by a month on average than any other team in the NFL.

So on one hand, it's remarkable and it's a high-class problem. On the other hand, isn't it somewhat inevitable that you might have some draft swings and misses?

Perry agreed with Curran and brought up that the fact that the extra time off will give Belichick a real chance to thoroughly evaluate his roster.

I think for a team that is looking at a reboot, one of the sort of ironic things about that is that now you have time to really think that through in more detail and not to say that Bill Belichick isn't planning or looking at his roster, how it's constructed, how the contracts set up and trying to plan ahead. I'm sure he is doing that to a certain extent.

But you can only spend so much time on those things when you're getting ready for the divisional round, the AFC Championship Game every year, the Super Bowl every other year.

This surely makes sense and is definitely a positive for the Patriots. Perhaps with that extra time, Belichick can find a way to retain Tom Brady while significantly upgrading his supporting cast.

For more on the Patriots offseason plans, potential changes in their front office, and predictions for the AFC and NFC Championship Games, check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, which drops every Tuesday and Thursday as a part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.