This post is also located on Eagledelphia, another blog which I contribute to.
The Eagles advanced to 2-0 in preseason play on Monday Night Football, but the victory came at the price of their starting quarterback’s health. Michael Vick was hit hard after a pass attempt with just over six minutes left in the first quarter. Vick got up before laying back on the ground and waiting for trainers to attend to him. Vick was taken into the locker room for x-rays, which came out negative. However, Vick did not return for the rest of the game. We’ll have more information on Vick’s injury once it becomes available.
Even without Vick, there was a preseason game to be played. Some of interest in this game was lost when Bill Belichick announced that All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady would not be playing. Belichick also sat a number of other key players including offensive weapons Wes Welker and Rod Gronkowski. The Patriots have three preseason games in the next ten days, and Belichick is planning on playing his key players more on Friday in Tampa Bay. The Eagles also play three preseason games in ten days, but Coach Reid used tonight’s game as dress rehearsal instead of Friday nights game against the Cleveland Browns, who the Eagles will face in week one of the regular season.
The game started out slow with both offenses going three and out to start the action.
New England opened up the scoring with a 56 yard drive on 11 plays which lead to a 51 yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. 3-0 NE was the score when Vick went down with a rib injury in the first quarter. Rookie Nick Foles from the University of Arizona came in the game at quarterback for the Eagles.
New England got the ball back after the Vick injury, and took advantage of some inopportune penalties on the Eagles. Dominiuqe Rodgers-Cromartie continued his promising preseason when he intercepted a Ryan Mallet pass, but his interception was nullified due to a roughing the passer call on Fletcher Cox. On the same drive, the Trent Cole came up big for the Eagles with a third down sack. However, a defensive holding call on Nnamdi Asomugha gave the Patriots an automatic first down. Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallet took advantage of the two penalties when he lead the Patriots down the field for a Alex Silvestro touchdown and 9-0 lead. The 10 play, 80 yard drive was made possible by two crucial Eagles penalties.
Penalities cost the Eagles again when a penalty for too many men on the field during the Patriot’s PAT attempt resulted in the Patriots attempt of a two point conversion. New England ran the ball in from one yard line to give them an 11-0 lead. Tempers were flaring as the Eagles trailed 11-0 in Foxborough. Coach Andy Reid and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins were caught in a heated argument on national television by ESPN’s camera crew.
The Eagles gained a much needed spark when Akeem Jordan recovered a fumble forced by special teams standout Brandon Boykin on a punt. The Eagles started with the ball on the NE 24 yard line, and they only needed three plays to punch the ball for a Shady McCoy touchdown. McCoy rushed the ball in from the half yard line to cut the Patriots lead to 11-7. Another spark occured on the following drive when Philip Hunt forced a quarterback fumble which was recovered by Darryl Tapp. The Eagles had the ball at the NE 13 yard line, and only needed two plays to capitalize on the turnover. Desean Jackson caught a ball to get the Eagles down to the 2 yard line, and Clay Harbor caught a two yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles on the following play. The Eagles had their first lead of the night at 14-11.
The Patriots responded with a 14 play, 63 yard drive of their own to tie the game at 14-14 on a 35 yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. The score would remain that way as the game headed into halftime. Rodgers-Cromartie left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. He felt like he could return to the game, but coaches decided to hold him out. At halftime ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach John Gruden made an interesting comment. Gruden noted , “Andy Reid has more plays in his playbook than any coach ever.”
The Eagles received the ball to start the second half, and they came out strong. One play after catching a 16 yard pass, Desean Jackson caught a 40 yard bomb from Foles to move the Eagles into the redzone. Three plays later, Clay Harbor caught a three yard pass from Foles for his second touchdown of the game. This gave the Eagles their largest lead of the game at 21-14. Foles rebounded well after being intercepted in the final minute of the first half. Foles completed five of six pass attempts for 87 yards and 4 first downs in the scoring drive.
Both teams added a field goal before end of the third quarter to make it 24-17 Eagles. Alex Henry tacked on one more field goal at the two minute warning to make it a two possession game and seal the Eagles’ 27-17 victory on ESPN. The Eagles advanced to 2-0 in the 2012 preseason.
One brightspot during the game was the play of Nick Foles. Foles completed 18 of his 28 pass atempts for 217 yards, two touchdowns, and one intereception. This resulted in an impressive quarterback rating of 96.9. After the game Reid commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a rookie QB have two preseason games like this.” However, it is important to keep in mind that most of Foles damage was done against the Patriots’ second and third string defensive players. The Eagles need to hope that Vick will be able start in Cleveland on September 9th. Keeping Vick healthy will be necessary if they have any intention of going deep into the NFL playoffs.