By Alex MacDougall
BU News Service
The Patriots came out of last week’s bye with something desperate to prove. After getting thoroughly humiliated two weeks prior against the Baltimore Ravens, questions about how good this team really is reverberated throughout the league. The matchup this week, against the Philadelphia Eagles, a team the Patriots have faced twice in the Super Bowl, would be a chance to show whether this team is worthy of their 8-1 overall record.
But the Eagles, like the Patriots, were also coming off a bye, and also had something to prove. They were coming into this week tied for first place with their NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys, and with the Cowboys winning earlier in the day over the Detroit Lions, the Eagles had to win in order to maintain that position. It was clear that both teams were in a position where they couldn’t afford to lose.
The Eagles struck first in the game, scoring an early field goal with the help of a 49-yard pass interference penalty against the Patriots. The Eagles would score again before the first quarter was done, with quarterback Carson Wentz throwing a touchdown which initially was called an interception before the ruling was reversed. Facing a 10-0 deficit, the Patriots looked to be facing another loss.
Except this time, their defense would hold strong. The ten points in the first quarter would be the only points the Eagles would score for the rest of the game. However, the New England offense seemed to continue to struggle to reach the end zone, mustering only field goals in the first half. Nevertheless, they managed to pull to within one point by halftime.
The decisive turning point would come midway in the third quarter, with the Patriots nearing the Eagles’ end zone. Tom Brady threw a screen pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman, who then proceeded to throw it himself, to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett for a touchdown. This isn’t the first time the Patriots have used Edelman in this manner, having famously performed it against the Ravens in a 2015 playoff game as part of a comeback win. While the stakes for this game weren’t as high, it was still a bold move which eventually would secure the victory for the Patriots, with a final score of 17-10.
With the win, the Patriots retain the top rank in the AFC and have proven to the league that yes, this is a team that can contend against more challenging foes. But the remaining matchups won’t be getting any easier. With the Eagles loss, the Patriots will go up next week against the first-place team of the NFC East: The Dallas Cowboys.