The Eagles saw two-thirds of their 21-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter and they gave the Patriots a chance to erase the rest of that edge when running back Kenjon Barner fumbled while trying to run out the clock with 1:02 left to play, but there would be no miracle ending for Tom Brady this time.
Brady converted one first down after the fumble, but Keshawn Martin couldn’t hang on to a fourth-down pass with 20 seconds left to play in the game to seal the 35-28 victory for the Eagles. It’s the first win for the Eagles since Week Nine and would leave them with a piece of first place in the race to the bottom that is the NFC East should the Cowboys beat the Redskins on Monday night.
That’s remarkable given how little has gone right for the Eagles this season, but they had plenty go their way on Sunday. Much of it happened on defense and special teams as the Eagles scored on a blocked punt, interception return and punt return to dig out of a 14-0 hole and build a 35-21 lead. The defense also pressured and hit Brady, who finished 29-of-56 for 312 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, all day as the Patriots struggled to find their rhythm on offense with so many missing pieces.
They may have uncovered one in running back James White, who had 10 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown, but they’re going to need more from others if they’re going to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs. With the Bengals and Broncos winning, the Pats are now No. 3 in the AFC although Cincinnati and Denver still play each other so the Pats will be fine if they win out. That may be a lot to ask from the team we saw today, although their late comeback shows that there’s little reason to think they can’t figure something out.
The Eagles have things to figure out on offense as well as they picked up 248 yards while running 58 plays on Sunday afternoon. Sam Bradford did make a big completion to Riley Cooper on third down shortly before Barner’s fumble by stepping up and away from Rob Ninkovich to deliver a first down that looked like it would ice the game and he threw a pair of touchdowns, but there were long stretches when the Eagles didn’t do much offensively.
It wound up being enough today, though, and they’ll remain on at least the fringes of the division race if they can find a way against the Bills next week.