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).

Report: Nelson Agholor expected to be active for Eagles vs. Bengals

Report: Nelson Agholor expected to be active for Eagles vs. Bengals

Nelson Agholor is expected to be active for the Eagles against the Bengals on Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan. 

Agholor, who has struggled mightily in his second pro season, was held out of the Eagles' loss to the Packers on Monday night. Undrafted rookie and preseason standout Paul Turner dressed in his place.

The Eagles may be without their leading receiver, Jordan Matthews, who has an ankle injury and is considered a game-time decision.

For the season, Agholor has 27 catches for 264 yards in 10 games. His lone touchdown reception came in the Eagles' win over the Browns in Week 1.

Eagles-Bengals 5 things: Season isn't over yet

Eagles-Bengals 5 things: Season isn't over yet

Eagles (5-6) at Bengals (3-7-1)
1 p.m. on FOX

Eagles +1.5

The Eagles' backs may be against the wall, but the season isn't over yet. Five games still remain, beginning with a trip to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals on Sunday.

With a 5-6 record, the Eagles would need some help to reach the playoffs. Of course, it's a moot point if they don't help themselves and end their current two-game skid. Who knows, a win over a 3-7-1 Bengals squad could be the beginning of an improbable run.

1. Unwelcome in the jungle
If the Eagles do manage to defeat the Bengals on Sunday, they would be making history. While it's not exactly a huge sample size, the franchise has never won in Cincinnati, posting a 3-0-1 record in four tries.

They've come close on multiple occasions. In 1994, the Bengals tied the Eagles with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, recovered a muffed kickoff, then kicked another field goal to win 33-30 in regulation. And in 2008, the clubs finished in a 13-13 tie when the Eagles committed four turnovers to Cincinnati's one.

Granted, winning at Paul Brown Stadium isn't a problem that's inherent to the Eagles. Since 2013, the Bengals are 21-6-1 at home, and that's even going 2-2-1 this year. "The Jungle" is an underrated difficult place to play — although whether the crowd will be behind a losing team this week remains to be seen.

2. The road to victory
Once again, Eagles coach Doug Pederson faced questions about balance after the offense's run-pass ratio was seriously out of whack in the loss to the Packers on Monday. This week, it would behoove Pederson to listen to critics of his play-calling, because pounding the rock will likely be the blueprint to victory.

That's because Cincinnati's run defense is among the worst in the NFL. The unit ranks 28th in terms of ground yards per game, surrendering 180 or more three times this season while allowing an average of 4.4 per carry.

Furthermore, the Bengals are much stronger defending the ball when it's in the air. They're not dominant or anything, coming into the game ranked 13th against the pass, but it's obvious where the real weakness is.

Given that top receiver Jordan Matthews is battling an ankle injury and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has struggled to put the entire offense on his shoulders, it's clear what the Eagles should do. Lean heavily on Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood, and play the ball-control and field-position angles if they must.

3. Eyes on Eifert
The good news for the Eagles is they are catching the Bengals without All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green and versatile running back Giovani Bernard — injured players who previously accounted for 60 percent of the team's offense. The bad news is Cincinnati recently got one of their weapons back.

Tyler Eifert has been back in action for five games now, and the fourth-year tight end has picked right up where he left off following a Pro Bowl campaign in 2015. In the Bengals' last four contests, Eifert has 20 receptions for 303 yards and two touchdowns, which would project to 80, 1,212 and eight over a full season.

The Eagles have a few things going for them. They haven't been getting killed by the tight end position this season, and the Bengals currently don't have anybody else the defense really needs to focus in on. That being said, this offense is centered around Eifert right now, who's been targeted 34 times in the last four games. He's an impact player.

4. Better clean up their act
It's no secret that penalties have been a huge problem for the Eagles all season. Officials are flagging the team 8.2 times per game, which is the third-highest rate in the NFL this season. Needless to say, those calls have hurt, costing them an average of 64.3 yards.

That's not going to fly against the Bengals, who believe it or not are one of the cleanest teams in the league, at least as far as the refs are concerned. At only 5.7 penalties per game, Cincinnati boasts the third-lowest rate, while their average of 44.9 yards lost is the best out of all 32 teams.

The Eagles have already proven they have trouble overcoming the officials. Going on the road and facing a team that's the total inverse could be a huge problem. They're not going to get many freebies, nor can they afford to give them away.

This team has no margin for error to begin with. In what is anticipated to be a very tight game, the Eagles better not let flags or lack there of against their opponent influence the outcome.

5. It's not over yet
At this point, the Eagles have minimal roads to the playoffs, but a victory Sunday would at least serve to get them back in the conversation. A division championship is officially off the table. A wild-card berth, on the other hand, is still a possibility.

Washington currently owns the sixth and final spot in the tournament at 6-4-1, although the Eagles would have a chance to make up some ground with their meeting next week. The Buccaneers are 6-5, and the Vikings are 6-6, followed by the Packers and Saints sharing the Eagles' 5-6 record. It's not like anybody is running away with this.

So while postseason play might seem like a long shot, it's not exactly outlandish, either. With a win over the Bengals on Sunday, the Eagles could very well be hosting Washington next week in a battle for their playoff lives. That means it's not quite time to give up just yet.