Patriots can’t grab a win in Tom Brady’s homecoming, come up short in 25-20 loss to Eagles
FOXBORO — The New England Patriots put themselves in an early hole and could never fully recover, dropping a 25-20 decision to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Despite multiple chances to take a late lead, Mac Jones and the Pats offense never quite put it all together in crunch time, as the team fell to 0-1 to stert the 2023 season.
It’s safe to say that the game didn’t start the way anyone rooting for the Patriots had hoped. The defense was able to play “bend-but-don’t-break” and hold the Eagles to a field goal on the opening drive of the game to make it 3-0, but the trouble was just starting.
The Patriots’ first drive had a very promising start, as they gained 34 yards on their first six plays. But the seventh play was a pass attempt intended for Kendrick Bourne, and while the throw was a tad high, it clanged off Bourne’s hands and into those of Eagles cornerback Darius Slay, who took it 70 yards the other way for a pick-six that made it 10-0.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Pats’ next offensive drive lasted just one play. Newcomer Ezekiel Elliott caught a pass from Jones, but fumbled after the Eagles’ Jordan Davis knocked the ball loose. Eagles linebacker Zach Cunningham recovered the fumble to get it right back to the road team.
Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense cashed in on the turnover and short field, as the quarterback finished off a four-play drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith. Eagles kicker Jake Elliott missed the extra point, but the damage was done, as the Eagles pulled out to a 16-0 lead. And this was just in the first quarter.
The defense settled in during the second quarter, at one point forcing four straight punts. This allowed the Patriots offense to get the team back in the game. On the final two possessions of the first half, the Pats completed touchdown drives of 71 and 58 yards.
The first touchdown was a pinpoint pass from Jones to tight end Hunter Henry, cutting the lead to 16-7…
…And the second score was another strong touch-pass from Jones, showing good anticipation to hit Bourne crossing left-to-right for their first TD connection of the season.
After the Patriots punted to start the second half, the Eagles scored their first points since the first quarter with an impressive 56-yard field goal by Elliott. They followed up that drive with another FG on the next one, making it 22-14 early in the fourth quarter.
On their second drive of the fourth quarter, the Patriots made it into the red zone but came up empty-handed. They went for it on fourth down twice, the first time converting, thanks to an incredible one-handed snag by Hunter Henry.
But on the second fourth-down attempt, Jones was under duress and ended up getting rid of the ball to avoid a sack. The ball fell incomplete and gave it back to the Eagles. Philadelphia then did just enough to get into field goal range once again for Elliott, who hit a 51-yarder to make it 25-14.
The Patriots were able to quickly drive back down the field on the ensuing possession, mainly thanks to a 32-yard catch and run by Rhamondre Stevenson. Bourne later caught his second touchdown of the game to make it 25-20, but the two-point conversion attempt was no good.
On the next Eagles possession, the defense suddenly made its biggest play of the whole game. Safety Jabrill Peppers rocked Hurts with a hit as the QB tried to scramble, knocking the ball out. Marcus Jones was there to recover the fumble and give it right back to the Pats.
However, the Patriots weren’t able to do anything off the turnover. In fact, they did less than nothing, losing seven yards on the drive and coming up short on fourth down.
But the Eagles once again gave the Patriots life. On the following possession, they decided to go for it on fourth-and-2, and Hurts’ pass attempt fell incomplete. The Patriots threatened after that, but a fourth-down pass attempt to rookie receiver Kayshon Boutte was incomplete, as Boutte did not get his second foot in bounds. That effectively ended the game.
Up Next: The Patriots get the Miami Dolphins at home in Week 2, as they look to even their record at 1-1.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.