Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Eagles rally to give Pats rare losing streak

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In an eight-day span, the Patriots went from thinking about an unbeaten season to reeling from their first back-to-back losses in more than three years.

Najee Goode scored on a blocked punt, Malcolm Jenkins returned an interception 99 yards for another touchdown and Darren Sproles took a punt return all the way on Sunday before the Eagles held on for an improbable 35-28 victory over the Super Bowl champion Patriots.

After giving up 45 points in back-to-back games, the response by Philadelphia's defense and special teams was just what coach Chip Kelly needed to snap a three-game losing streak.

"It takes those things to win in this stadium," Kelly said, "against that coach and that quarterback."

The Patriots led 14-0 before Philadelphia scored five straight touchdowns. Then New England came back, taking advantage of an onside kick and a fumble to have a chance to tie it in the final minute.

That was when the Patriots receivers dropped three passes in a row to turn the ball over on downs.

"Sort of had a chance there at the end. A comeback," coach Bill Belichick said unenthusiastically. "But when you give up 21 points when your defense isn't on the field, you're going to lose 98 percent of those games."

The Eagles tied for second in the weak NFC East with the Giants, half a game behind Washington, which hosts Dallas tonight.

The Patriots hold a three-game lead over the New York Jets in the AFC East. But what two weeks ago was a comfortable cushion for an undefeated team has shrunk and could, at the very least, cost New England a chance to rest its injured players for the postseason, as Belichick likes to do.

And they need it.

Brady was without tight end Rob Gronkowski, top receiver Julian Edelman and No. 1 running back Dion James. And his reshuffled offensive line couldn't protect him.

"We'd love to have everybody healthy. I think everybody would love that," Brady said. "It's just not the reality at this point."

Still, the Super Bowl MVP gave the Patriots a chance.

After squandering a 14-point lead for the second straight week, the Patriots snapped out of it for a late charge in the final minutes.

Brady threw for a touchdown to make it a two-score game then, after an onside kick, ran it in from the 1-yard line to cut it to seven points with 3 minutes left. New England's second onside kick failed, but the Patriots stripped the ball from Eagles running back Kenjon Barner on third down to give Brady one more chance.

But the comeback fell short when Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola and Keshawn Martin all had passes come out of their hands in the final 34 seconds.

"You have a first-ballot Hall of Fame coach, and you have a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback — maybe the best quarterback to ever play the game. Of course you're aware of that," Kelly said. "(But) if you spend too much time patting yourself on the back, you're going to lose focus."

Darren Sproles had 66 yards rushing, 34 receiving and 115 more on punt returns — including an 83-yard touchdown that made it 28-14 with 4:18 left in the third quarter. After missing two games with a concussion and left shoulder injury, Sam Bradford threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

But the Eagles won this one with defense and special teams.

Brady had his 71st 300-yard game, third-most all time, but also had his first multi-interception game since the Super Bowl.

Comments

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