Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles was shaping up to be the hardest game remaining on the Patriots schedule. While the Eagles were playing without Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin they still had the NFL’s leading rusher LeSean McCoy, big play machine DeSean Jackson, and a QB hungry defensive line. The Patriots were playing with key pieces missing from their defense, Brandon Spikes, Patrick Chung, and Devin McCourty. All of this hype and speculation mattered little when it came to game time, because the only thing that mattered was the Patriots had Brady and Belichick and the Eagles didn’t.
The game began with the Vince Young and Eagles trying to exploit the Patriots shaky secondary with throws down the field. Two big plays to Riley Copper and DeSean Jackson on the Eagles first two drives respectively put the Eagles on top 10-0. The Patriots were quick to respond with an 80-yard drive led by the power running of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who capped off the drive with a TD.
The early establishment of the running game by Green-Ellis allowed Tom Brady to pick apart the Eagles secondary. A beautiful example of Brady’s mastery of the QB position occurred in the 2nd Quarter on a busted play from the Patriots 36-yardline. Stepping out of a would be sack, Brady rolled off to his left, motioned with his hand to Deion Branch who knew exactly what was needed of him and head up field. Brady completed the pass to Branch who scampered down to the 1-yardline, setting up Green-Ellis’ second TD run of the day. The chemistry between Branch and Brady was so great to see, they are true professionals.
The Eagles seemed to forget that they had the NFL’s leading rusher on their team Sunday, instead Vince Young got it in his head that he was Tom Brady. Facing a 14-10 deficit after Green-Ellis’ second TD in the 2nd Quarter, the Eagles yet again allowed Vince Young to try to make plays with his arm. In an “I-saw-that-comin’-a-mile-away” moment if I’ve ever seen one, Vince Young was intercepted by Antwaun Molden trying to force the ball to DeSean Jackson, on the Eagles first play after the Pats scored.
The interception by Molden was only the beginning signs of a frustrating evening for the Eagles offense. A drop by DeSean Jackson on 3rd down in the endzone in the 2nd Quarter and a huge turn over on downs on their first possession of the 3rd quarter all but buried the Eagles. In the meantime Brady was having a field day carving up the Eagles defense on his way to 361 yards passing and 3 TD. Wes Welker caught two of Brady’s TD passes and Rob Gronkowski caught the other; Gronk now has 11 TDs on the season. The game also featured an NFL rarity, a Patriots back-up quarterback playing in a game with a heath Tom Brady on the sideline.
Overall a classic Brady-Belichick team victory; lots of points, capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes, and solid defense when it mattered most.