The Eagles' defense managed to prevent Tom Brady from finding the end zone Sunday, but the play of the game was still a touchdown pass — it just happened to be thrown by Julian Edelman.
Edelman’s 15-yard third-quarter strike to fellow wide receiver Phillip Dorsett was not only the Patriots’ lone trip across the goal line. The trickery gave New England its first lead, and the team never looked back en route to a 17-10 win over the Eagles (see Roob's observations).
“It was effective and ultimately was the difference in the game,” Rodney McLeod said.
Edelman’s pass capped a 10-play, 84-yard scoring drive to open the second half, finally getting New England six points — eight with the two-point conversion — after their offense was forced to settle for a trio of field goals in the first half.
That play changed the complexion of the entire game.
“They went no huddle and came out with a trick play to score,” Fletcher Cox said. “That was that.”
Brady lateraled the ball to Edelman but the play was designed to look like a bubble screen. Instead of taking off for the first-down marker, the receiver dropped back and hit Dorsett streaking across the middle.
Rasul Douglas arrived late on the scene, but he was unable to jar the ball free to force the incompletion.
“They came out in the second half with a lot of tempo,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “We settled down and got them into (3rd-and-11), they throw a bubble to 11 — I think guys were just hustling to the ball thinking it was a screen, and it’s a double pass.
“Good play by them.”
The play marred an otherwise outstanding performance by the Eagles' defense, which limited Brady a 55.3 completion percentage and 4.6 yards per attempt.
Yet the Patriots have increasingly found ways to win games even when Brady doesn’t post gaudy numbers. This was the fourth game in the last 11 going back to New England’s Super Bowl victory over the Rams in which the future Hall of Famer didn’t throw a touchdown and his team was victorious.
“They don’t make too many mistakes so they wait 'til we make one,” Avonte Maddox said.
It’s also not the first time the Patriots have employed trickery, nor the first time Edelman has completed a pass or thrown a touchdown. Including postseason, Edelman is 5-for-6 for 141 yards and a touchdown.
“You can always say one guy should do this, one guy should do that,” Jalen Mills said. “It was just a good play and they did that at the right time.”
While the Eagles failed to threaten after jumping out to a 10-0 second-quarter lead, the defense was keeping the team in the game, going into the locker room with a 10-9 lead after several stands.
The Eagles held New England to 298 yards of total offense, 5-for-16 on third downs and 1-for-3 in the red zone — but the one turned out to be a backbreaker.
“If it takes trick plays to score on us, then so be it,” Cox said.
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