Philadelphia Eagles

Instant Replay: Patriots 42, Eagles 35

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Instant Replay: Patriots 42, Eagles 35

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Both teams racked up more than 25 first downs. Both teams went over the 400-yard mark. Both had multiple quarterbacks with passer ratings over 108.2. Both committed more than 80 yards of penalties.

Apparently, defense and discipline were optional Friday night when the Eagles and Patriots clashed at Gillette Stadium in the second preseason game (see 10 observations). The Pats won the slugfest, 42-35, scoring two third-quarter touchdowns that ultimately propelled them to the win.

The Eagles (0-2) tied the game at 28-28 in the third on Damaris Johnson’s 5-yard touchdown catch, but the Patriots scored touchdowns on their next two drives, a 10-yard run by Roy Finch followed by a 28-yard touchdown connection between Ryan Mallett and Brian Tyms, as the Pats (1-1) went up 42-28 and then held on to win the see-saw contest.

The Birds had struck first with cornerback Cary Williams returning a Tom Brady pick 77 yards for a touchdown on New England’s first series, but Brady and Jimmy Garopollo combined for three touchdowns that put New England up 21-7.

Arrelious Benn’s blocked punt set up a second-quarter touchdown pass from Nick Foles to Zach Ertz, then Mark Sanchez entered and threw a touchdown pass -- sort of -- to Benn that tied the game at 21-21.

QB report
Foles bounced back from his two-interception game, completing 8 of 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown for a 133.8 passer rating. His counterpart, some guy named Tom Brady, also completed 8 of 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. But Brady threw a pick, so his passer rating plummeted to 94.2, which was the lowest of all six quarterbacks who played in the game.

Sanchez once again looked strong. He made one bad toss, resulting in an interception, but otherwise completed 11 of 12 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns for a 112.2 passer rating. Matt Barkley completed 9 of 12 passes for 132 yards with one touchdown and one pick. He posted a 103.5 passer rating.

Offensive hero
Speaking of bounce-backs, how about Jordan Matthews? The kid had the deer-in-the-headlights look against the Bears but came back to catch nine passes on nine targets for 104 yards, an average of nearly 12 yards per catch.

Offensive zero
Not really a shining moment for Ifeanyi Momah. The 6-foot-7 receiver lost a fumble and then somehow gave a touchdown catch to Benn when he failed to secure a diving catch, allowing the ball to bounce into his teammate's hands. Momah played plenty of snaps but finished with two catches for 20 yards.

Defensive hero
Hard to find one when the Eagles allowed more than 30 first downs and more than 420 total yards of offense. Give it to Williams, who behaved himself all week against the same team he called a bunch of “cheaters” and then picked off Brady and ran it back 77 yards for the touchdown.

Defensive zero
Curtis Marsh allowed three touchdowns. Yes, three touchdowns. On one series alone, he was flagged for holding, then pass interference, then gave up a back-shoulder touchdown pass from Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins. Brandon Lafell beat him for a touchdown from Garoppolo and Tims got Marsh for a touchdown from Mallett. If you’re counting, that’s three touchdowns allowed to three different Pats QBs.

Good, then bad
Let’s start with Alex Henery. He had a nice opening kickoff that went about five yards deep into the end zone. Then he kicked an extra point. Then … he missed a 47-yard field goal wide right. Couldn’t have come at a worse time, since his “competitor” Cary Spear had perhaps the worst week of practice you’ll ever see from a kicker. In the same vein, Johnson got open to catch a 5-yard touchdown catch from Sanchez but then bobbled a pretty, arcing spiral from Barkley that turned into an interception. New England then drove downfield and scored a touchdown.

Notable
Nate Allen started opposite Malcolm Jenkins at safety for the second time in two preseason games. ... Vinny Curry had a crippling block along the sideline to help spring Williams’ 77-yard touchdown return. ... The Eagles turned the ball over four times. ... Bennie Logan, who didn’t play against Chicago, started at nose tackle. … The Pats converted their first seven third downs. ... Brandon Graham, who played well against the Bears, didn’t enter the game until late in the third quarter. … With three running backs out, rookie free agent Henry Josey played a ton of reps and turned a reception in the right flat into a 27-yard touchdown with a few nifty moves.

Penalty count
Oh, so, so, so many. Just on Marsh alone. The Eagles were flagged 10 times for 86 yards, while New England drew 11 for 83.

In-game injuries
Williams injured his hamstring on his 77-yard touchdown return and didn’t return. Josh Huff injured his right shoulder on a first-quarter kickoff return and didn’t return. Brandon Boykin suffered from cramps and also didn’t return, but the Eagles said he’s fine.

Injury scratches
Those who didn’t play for injury reasons were: cornerbacks Nolan Carroll (hamstring) and Jaylen Watkins (hamstring), wide receiver Riley Cooper (foot), inside linebacker Jake Knott (hamstring), center Julian Vandervelde (back) and running backs Chris Polk (hamstring), David Fluellen (calf) and Matthew Tucker (hamstring).

Chris Long to Malcolm Jenkins: 'I'm here for you'

Chris Long to Malcolm Jenkins: 'I'm here for you'

Eagles defensive end Chris Long became the first white professional athlete to actively participate in the national anthem demonstrations designed to cast a light on racial and social injustices.

Before the Eagles' preseason game against the Bills on Thursday, Long put his arm around safety Malcolm Jenkins (see story), who has raised his right fist in the air during the playing of the anthem since last season. Long explained he felt it necessary to show support for the cause in the aftermath of violence in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.

"It's been a hard week for everybody," Long said postgame. "It's not just a hard week for someone being from Charlottesville. It's a tough week for America.

"I've heard a lot of people say, 'Why do athletes get involved in the national anthem protests?' I've said before that I'll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers. If you don't see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don't think you'll ever see it.

"Malcolm is a leader and I'm here to show support as a white athlete."

Long spoke out about the Charlottesville protests on Sunday (see story), making the case that his stance is not about politics, but "right and wrong." One day earlier, protests over the removal of Confederate memorials turned tragic when a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed.

After the events that unfolded, Long could no longer sit idly by.

"I was inspired by a lot of the allies that were there to stand up against hate in my hometown and I wasn't able to be there to protest or to stand up against hate," Long said. "People like Heather Heyer gave their life for that and I was inspired by that.

"I just told Malcolm, 'I'm here for you.' I think it's a good time for people that look like me to be there for people that are fighting for equality."

Jenkins said he was aware Long was going to take part in the demonstration, and was appreciative of his teammate's backing.

"Before the game, he approached me and he wanted to, in his own way, send a message of support," Jenkins said.

"I think he understands that he could never necessarily know my experience as a black male, but in the light of all that's going on, as a white male, he understands that he needs to be an ally. He expressed that desire to me, and so I thought it was appropriate to show that gesture of support."

Though Jenkins' demonstration has not garnered the mainstream national attention of some of the other high profile athletes who have sat or knelt during the anthem, he has been among the most outspoken. The Pro Bowl safety is involved in various social programs and has even spoken to Congress about social injustice in the United States.

"The biggest thing is to continue to call attention to the things in this country I think everybody after the past week has been focusing on," Jenkins said.

"If we want to eradicate hate from our country, drawing attention to not only the hate itself, but the products of those hates. If you look at the long history of our country, and how especially in our justice system we talk about police and community engagement — the duality of our justice system right now, communities of low income and communities with color have completely different interactions with the justice system than that of our counterparts — and in the light of everything that's happening, just continuing that discussion."

Jenkins wasn't the only of Long's teammates to show respect for the stance he took. Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks, who himself knelt for the anthem on Thursday, also took notice that another person was using their platform to further the cause.

Brooks didn't get too caught up in the fact that Long is white and anthem demonstrators have been predominantly black. Anybody who's willing to take a stand is needed.

"I'm not too concerned about whether it be a white person, black person, they could be Anglo-Saxon, whatever race, it doesn't matter," Brooks said. "Just him showing his support — I think a lot more people need to action and not just be quiet and let things go to the wayside.

"I admire Chris for standing up for something and show support for injustices that are going on. Whether the person was Malcolm, or whether the person had been [Carson Wentz] or anyone else, just that support and speaking up and using your platform."

Carson Wentz, Eagles offense finally find some rhythm after stagnant start

Carson Wentz, Eagles offense finally find some rhythm after stagnant start

BOX SCORE

On the first nine offensive plays of Thursday night's game against the Bills, the Eagles' offense gained a total of five yards. 

Five. 

To say the Eagles' offense stalled early in the team's 20-16 preseason win over the Bills would be a bit of an understatement (see Instant Replay). They needed a spark. 

Doug Pederson initially wanted Carson Wentz and the first-team offense to play just one or two series. But after the team's third 3-and-out, which included Wentz's taking a big hit, to start the game, he sent Wentz and his unit back into the game.

"You want to get your offense going," Pederson said. "There is a fine line. But there's a lot of pride with those guys and they understood that I wasn't completely happy with the performance early and they wanted another opportunity."

Through three drives, seven of the Eagles' nine plays netted one yard or fewer. 

Things just weren't working. 

"It can be tough," Wentz said. "The first couple drives it was definitely frustrating, coming out 3-and-out every time. I missed a couple throws, couldn't get the running game going. It was frustrating. Again, we'll go back, watch the tape, evaluate and keep building this thing." 

When Pederson sent his offense into the game with just under five minutes left in the first quarter, the Eagles began to use a hurry-up offense (see 10 observations). It was a tactic to find some sort of rhythm and the tempo. It did the trick. 

First, Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for nine yards. Then Nelson Agholor for seven. Jeffery for 14. LeGarrette Blount for 17. Then Blount ran for eight. Before no time, the Eagles had traveled down deep into Buffalo territory. 

"Going back to last year, Coach Pederson has always had a feel for when's the right time to do then, when you kind of need a spark," Wentz said. "That's what he felt tonight. It was effective."

Eventually, though, Blount caught a short pass and fumbled the ball away. That ended the first-team offense's day. But at least they got some semblance of rhythm before leaving. 

Still, it wasn't a strong showing from Wentz and the first unit. Pederson attributed the slow start to the lack of game-planning. He thinks things will be different once they begin preparing specifically for other defenses. 

Neither Wentz nor Pederson is concerned. 

"I don't," Pederson said. "Because I see it in practice every day. I know what they're capable of doing." 

"Was the performance great? By no means," Wentz said. "This is definitely not where we want to be, but I definitely don't have doubts. I know we have the right guys, we have the right scheme, we just have to put it together."

The Eagles were without their normal starting offensive line Thursday, which might have played a role (see Grading the Win). Jason Peters missed the game for personal reasons, which meant Lane Johnson had to switch sides and Matt Tobin came in at right tackle. And last week, the team was without starting right guard Brandon Brooks. 

Perhaps that's one of the reasons the run game struggled so much to start the season. 

Through two games, Blount has just nine carries for 17 yards. Not a great beginning to his time with the Eagles. 

"It's going OK," Blount said. "Obviously, we have a lot to improve on, we have a lot of corrections to make. It's not going as smoothly as any of us want it to go. But it's the preseason, we're still in camp, this is the time to make the corrections and not take it over into the regular season."

Pederson blamed the lack of running attack on the absence of game planning. Wentz thinks the Eagles will be able to game plan more for the Dolphins next Thursday, even though they will practice with them during the week. 

And if they can't get things going, Pederson can always call for the hurry-up offense. 

"It's one of those things, you can't do it too much," Wentz said. "Going back to last year, coach has always had a really good feel when's the right time to do that. When's the right time to push the tempo, when you need a spark. Tonight we needed a spark."