Weekly Report Card: A ‘special’ win for Eagles


The Eagles would have taken a win any way they could on Sunday. The fact that they led the New England Patriots by 21 at one point was impressive enough.

Even though they almost let that lead slip, holding on at the end to secure a key win for their season as well says a lot about the team's past 10 days and what they did to overcome adversity heading into a game where no one gave them a chance.

Here is this week's report card.

Pass Offense: It's evident that Sam Bradford has certainly settled into the Eagles offense of late. Even before his injury, he was starting to show comfort, and it didn't take long for him to show it again on Sunday in New England. It wasn't his best game by any stretch, but it was far from his worst. He almost brought a Brady flare to the Eagles victory. His two touchdown passes came on third down, as did a crucial connection to Riley Cooper, which appeared to seal the win. His excitement and emotion following that play said it all. B+

Run Offense: Starting Darren Sproles over DeMarco Murray certainly said a lot. Murray's eight carries said a lot too. But the Eagles running game did enough to keep the line moving. When you consider the offense's struggles were more a result of penalties in the first half and simply not being on the field in the second half, it certainly overshadows a lot of the other mistakes or progress that went by the wayside due to penalties early on. If there was one key flaw, it was Murray's small game — 24 yards on those eight carries — and Kenjon Barner's untimely fumble that hurt the Eagles grade here. C+

Pass Defense: They didn't have to cover a player like Rob Gronkowski, but they handled covering the other Patriots very well, despite giving up three touchdown passes to Tom Brady. Eric Rowe had an impressive game and even without the interception, Malcolm Jenkins was a standout. Jenkins, of course, had one of the game-changing plays, returning a Brady interception for 100 yards and a touchdown. Byron Maxwell came up with an interception as well. Forcing two interceptions against Brady doesn't happen often and when it does, you better finish the job. Facing a potential game-tying drive, the Eagles gave the Patriots nothing in the final minute. The final pass for Brady was broken up by, you guessed it, Rowe and Jenkins. A-

Run Defense: The running game was never really established by the Patriots. About the only consistency there was Brady's sneaks on short-yardage plays. One of those went for a late touchdown, but otherwise, the Eagles linebackers turned in a game that they needed to in response to two horrendous losses. A-

Special Teams: From start to finish, the group that lifted the Eagles over the Patriots. Imagine what happens if the second quarter simply ends with a Patriots punt and New England starts the second half and scores to bring their lead back to 14. Instead, that punt was blocked by Chris Maragos and recovered by Najee Goode and returning 38 yards for the tying touchdown. And then, Sproles, again, comes through with a punt return touchdown, the fourth of his Eagles career and at a time when every play was crucial for the Eagles. That separation almost settled the Eagles by supplying more confidence and they carried that into the fourth quarter. A

Overall: From two of the worst games under Chip Kelly to what is arguably the biggest win under Kelly. Regardless of what happens in the next four weeks, since the playoffs are still a realistic possibility for all four NFC East teams, this may have been the Eagles Super Bowl this year. And they won. It took a total team effort and things were far from perfect, but winning at all aspects certainly helped. It wasn't pretty, but it was a win and it's a win that gains the Eagles some huge attention. B+

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

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