Far from perfect execution, Eagles effort was rewarded

The Eagles win was more impressive for its unlikelihood rather than the actual performance.

How great were the odds? The Patriots are a team that simply never loses at home. Not like that. Not with Tom Brady throwing two interceptions. Not by allowing a blocked punt for a touchdown. Not by taking one of those interceptions the length of the field for a touchdown.

The numbers even showed how unlikely this was.

The Patriots had pulled out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. Before Sunday, the Patriots had gone 94-0 when leading by eight points or more since 2001. Before Sunday, the Patriots had gone 97 consecutive games without allowing a blocked punt touchdown. 

In any unlikely win, some things have to go your way. A lot fell the right way for the Eagles, but after showing almost no effort in the previous two games, an admirable effort was rewarded on Sunday, even when the execution wasn't completely there.

The unlikely nature of the win was not the only thing that made this win different for the Eagles. The fact that the Eagles showed a lot of accountability before and during this game speaks volumes to Chip Kelly and the team's preparation over the course of 10 days.

Keeping DeMarco Murray off the field was ultimately the right move, though they could have used his knack for protecting the football on the game's final drive that led to a lost fumble and a chance for the Patriots to tie.

That said, Murray had just eight carries in the game. Darren Sproles led the running game. It was a change of pace, but the move did seem to throw the Patriots defense off their game.

On paper, it looks like the Eagles defense got beat down by the Patriots offense, almost as you would have expected. Realistically, almost all of Brady's positives in the game came on four touchdown drives. When the Patriots offense was going, they were hard to stop.

But that was going to happen anyway. This game, at least when it was a hyped game on the schedule, had all the makings of an offensive shootout — Chip Kelly's innovation against Bill Belichick's domination.

You got the high-scoring affair, but with the Eagles using special teams and defense to create points.

The Eagles defense had gone almost three games without a turnover. Malcolm Jenkins' interception was a long time coming just for the Eagles to swipe possession, especially from Brady in the redzone. But Jenkins made the interception in double coverage with four other receivers behind the intended target. There was room to run and Jenkins started moving. With only Brady to beat, he cut back and sent Brady flying as he left his feet on a desperation tackle attempt.

The Eagles won with timely plays. They won by having players step up at the right time. 

By all standards, it was a solid defensive game. Given Brady's ability, even without some of his top receivers, holding him to three touchdowns and forcing two interceptions when the last two weeks featured 10 passing touchdowns and no turnovers for opposing quarterbacks, it is quite a bounce-back effort for the defense.

Probably the best thing about that win, for all of the other ways the Eagles managed to score, is that the defense really put a lot of pressure on Brady. To hit Brady 13 times in the game and sack him four times, that is the kind of effort and results the Eagles need to suppress opposing offenses.

Offensively, you still see the flaws. The running game was not perfect. The passing game came up with timely plays as well, you can give them that, but they were never really consistent in the game. And while Sam Bradford is clearly the more comfortable quarterback on the roster this season, he still doesn't look like the long-term solution for the Eagles.

Again, this was a win of intangibles, stepping up in big situations, letting effort dictate results.

When it was 14-0 and the Eagles looked like they were on their way to a third straight blowout loss, the Eagles fed off the energy on the field. They took a baffling decision by the Patriots as an insult and scored. They came up with a clutch play to close the half, and rode the momentum through the third quarter. And in some of the biggest plays in the final five minutes — Bradford's 3rd and 11 completion to Riley Cooper, Eric Rowe's two pass breakups on the Patriots final drive — that effort managed to come through.

That effort has the Eagles alive for another week. But effort doesn't always win games.

It won a game in New England this Sunday, however, and that is no small feat for any team, much less one that was in as much of a freefall as the Eagles.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledephia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.