Millions of Patriots fans flew over the cuckoos’ nest — myself, included — when the Eagles absolutely beat the pants off New England in its own stadium.
The score ended up being 35-28, but anyone who watched the entire game will tell you that it was not that close. Philadelphia had nothing to lose and everything to gain, as it came into the game at 4-7.
New England waged a fourth-quarter comeback and ultimately came up on the short-end.
The Eagles allowed 90 points combined in their last two games. Prior to the Week 12 matchup, I remember telling my good friend Josh, who is a sportswriter and a Carolina Panthers fan in Charlotte, N.C., that I believed the Eagles would give New England some trouble.
He paused, as we chatted over the phone, and said: “Ed, you’ve gotta be kidding me. Brady is going to rip that secondary to shreds.”
On the converse my good friend, the Philadelphia Eagles plucked two Tom Brady passes — one of which came in the red zone and was returned 99 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Then, the special teams woes. Head coach Bill Belichick tries a rugby kick to catch the Eagles off balance following a first quarter touchdown to put them up 14-0. Shocker, the Eagles recovered.
Point, Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly.
The Eagles not only scored on that possession, but on the ensuing New England drive, they blocked a punt and scooted in for a touchdown — checkmate, Eagles.
It was just a bad day all around for the New England offense. Brady was knocked down a bevy of times, as the play of the offensive line continues to be a huge question mark heading into the postseason.
Something tells me that New England will have another tough go in Houston Sunday night. The AFC South leading Texans are no slouch.
Granted, Houston leads a weak division, but they gave the Cincinnati Bengals their first loss of the season.
What’s to say they won’t pray on the already depleted New England defense and the ragtag offense?
Brady was 29 of 56 for 312 yards, 3 TD and 2 INT, not quite what you expect from the veteran. But, he is without his two top receivers in tight end Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, who are both out with injury.
Then, factor in the loss of Dion Lewis for the season with a torn ACL, the news just keeps getting worse for the Patriots.
But, they always find a way to win and recently, they have dropped two in a row.
This is the first time since 2012 that New England has fallen in consecutive games.
Sure, they have already all-but clinched a berth in the AFC playoffs, but right now the Patriots are playing for seeding.
If the brackets were released today, New England would likely be going on the road for the divisional round as the No. 2 seed and hosting the New York Jets, according to reports from NESN.
The sooner Gronk comes back from the knee bruise, or whatever they’re calling it this week, the better.
Brady needs at least one sure-fire weapon he can depend on.
Danny Amendola did the best he could to fill that roll, but the Eagles countered by double-teaming them much like they would do to Gronkowski.
Amendola is only about 5-foot-11 190 pounds, there is no reason to believe that he can take the sort of contact that Gronkowski can in coverage.
To those who say toss it up to Scott Chandler, the Pats’ no. 2 tight end, think again.
Chandler showed a couple flashes in the pan Sunday, but he is not Gronkowski. And, he never claimed to be. Chandler is a soft player,but at 6-foot-7, one would think he would play with a little more fight.
Then there is Brandon LaFell, who the Patriots acquired from Carolina in the offseason.
On paper, he looked to be a good No. 3 weapon for Brady, but he has ultimately been a bust. He was quitting on routes yesterday, which resulted in some under thrown balls by Brady.
James White has melded into the pass-catching safety valve running back role nicely. White was Brady’s go-to man Sunday with a career-high 115 receiving yards.
But for the Patriots to be successful going forward, they need to get healthy.
That has been said time and time again, but there just is no depth. New England has shown its weaknesses in the last two weeks.
On a side note: Kudos have to be given to Pepperell native Mike Dawson, who is the assistant defensive line coach. The Eagles defensive line wreaked havoc on the Patriots front five all night.
It is great to see a local having a successful career in the NFL as a coach.
It can only get better for New England. It has to, or it is going to be a very short postseason.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser