The Patriots didn't just beat the Eagles yesterday. They wholly and completely demolished them. They were the better team in what was hyped as a tough match up for them; and that's the type of game that people have been waiting for the Pats to win all season.
It's easy to get on the Patriots' case even in their wins because of the amount of offense that they give up over the course of a game. The opposite team's numbers always look a little too good in the box score. And yet the Patriots essentially won this game by 25 points, as the Eagles final touchdown came in the definition of garbage time with 32 second left in the game.
The fact of the matter is that the Eagles were considered contenders to win against New England. They have their own set of dangerous weapons and were playing at home. It was a reasonable presumption that the Patriots could lose this game, even with the Philadelphia injuries.
But please don't be fooled by the injury report of the numbers in the box score. The injuries to the Eagles were not the reason they lost. The Eagles played as good a brand of football as they are capable of, and they still lost because they just weren't good enough; no matter who was starting.
Philly Cannot Blame Their Injuries...At Least Not This Week
Michael Vick may have been on the bench, but Vince Young played well enough for his team to win. In fact, it's not crazy to argue that he did more than Vick would have done.
Vick is averaging 303.1 total yards, 1.2 touchdowns, 1.2 interceptions and 8.2 yards lost on 1.6 sacks per game. Against New England, Young had 440 total yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception and 7 yards lost on 2 sacks. Would Vick have really made that big of a difference?
And for what it's worth, the absence of starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was more than made up for by Riley Cooper and his 3 receptions for 71 yards.
Additionally, Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel may have been non-factors on the field, but cornerbacks Joselio Hanson and Brandon Hughes stepped up and combined for 10 solo tackles in the defensive back field.
Plus, the Patriots just plain stomped on LeSean McCoy. He's been averaging 116.3 total yards a game this season, and the Patriots held him to just 61.
The Eagles were armed with a backup quarterback playing as good if not better than their starter, their 4th best receiver on the night playing equally as well as Maclin and their non-superstar-cornerbacks stepping up when Samuel and Asomugha disappeared. Oh, and they have the best running back in the NFL right now.
They did not lose because they were depleted from injury. The Eagles lost because the Patriots are just a better team than them, and that was showcased all over the field on Sunday.
The Patriot Red Zone Defense
The Patriots may be last in total defense, but they are only allowing their opponents to score 20.3 points per game, which is slightly better than the 20.6 that the Green bay Packers allow. Their young and depleted secondary has a lot of trouble covering the field and the deep passing game in between the 20s, but when it comes to making big stops before the other team scores, the Pats are actually pretty solid.
The only [meaningful] touchdown for the Eagles came on the very first drive of the game in which Young hit Cooper for a massive pass play that brought them to the New England 4 yard line. After that, they failed at every turn offensively, as many teams have this year against the Pats; despite those jacked up yardage totals.
If total yardage itself could win games, the Eagles would be the number two seed in the NFC right now, behind New Orleans and ahead of Green Bay. Instead, they are third place in their own division. If yardage totals mattered in deciding who is good enough to get to the playoffs, the Carolina Panthers and San Diego Chargers would surely be punching their tickets to the postseason already.
Unfortunately for those teams, like the Eagles and the other teams that have racked up yards against the Patriots- yardage totals don't matter if you can't score more points than the other team. It seems a simple concept, yet every week the concern regarding their yards-allowed total seems to outweigh the fact that they are outscoring their opponents and stopping them when it matters.
In fact, leading into this week the only team to give up more total yards than the Patriots was the Green Bay Packers. The Pats have given up 223 point while the Packers have given up 227, and Green Bay gives up 393. 4 yards per game which is good for third worst in the league after New England and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It's no fluke that the Patriots have more in common statistically with the only undefeated team in the league thanthey do with the mediocre teams that might have better defenses.
Keeping all of this in mind, what else did we learn about the Patriots in their 38-20 win over the Eagles?
- They have a very legitimate shot at the 1 or 2 seed in the playoffs for the AFC.
- Tom Brady hasn't thrown an interception in three games, and it looks like his receivers have started to hit the prime of their season at the perfect time.
- When the Patriots get the still underrated BenJarvus Green-Ellis going early in the game, it gives them the offensive edge they need to dominate against tough defenses
- Tom Brady is really capable of rushing for 27 yards in a game.
- If you leave Deion Branch open or in single zone coverage, he will burn you.
- Same as the last lesson, but also with Aaron Hernandez
- Same as the last two lessons, except with Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker, who will really burn you
- Danny Woodhead is starting to emerge from the abyss he was in for most of the season, and it looks like defenses are a little confused...again.
- The Patriots definitely don't need to be paying Ochocinco six million bucks to not catch his only major target in the game; they have Tiquan Underwood for that now.
- If they continue to get better every week, they have the potential, talent and coaching to get through any team they could face in the AFC in the playoffs