PHILADELPHIA — Well isn’t that special?
Sparked by a razzle dazzle, 15-yard touchdown pass from Julian Edelman to Phillip Dorsett on the opening drive of the second half, the Patriots Sunday pinned a 17-10 loss on an Eagles team that’s been known to trot out a trick play or two.
Edelman took a quick out from Tom Brady and spotted Dorsett streaking toward the end zone, turning a boisterous Lincoln Financial Stadium crowd of 69,796 silent.
The 15-yard scoring strike gave New England its first and only lead, and by the time James White punched in the 2-point conversion, the stadium was a quiet as church on a Sunday morning.
The win guaranteed the Patriots their 19th straight winning season.
“No, I don’t think so,’’ said Edelman, asked if there was any extra meaning behind beating the Eagles on a trick play not unlike the Philly Special from Super Bowl 52. “We had something dialed up that we’ve been working on and we needed. So, we threw it in there, and we were able to make a play.’’
Like it had against Baltimore, New England found some success with an up-tempo attack coming out of intermission.
“It’s something you anticipate, they’re a good no huddle team, just caught us in a situation where we were a little out of position on the double pass and it was well-executed by them,’’ said Eagles coach Doug Pederson.
It was another slow start for the Patriots, who fell behind, 10-0, seemingly before the final notes of “Gonna Fly Now” echoed through the stadium as the “Rocky” montage played on the scoreboard.
It was an ominous beginning, as Jason McCourty was hit with a 49-yard pass interference call on the first play from scrimmage. It didn’t appear to more than incidental contact, but it set the Eagles up with a first down at the New England 26.
The Eagles didn’t get much farther, with Wentz misfiring on a pair of passes, forcing them to settle for Jake Elliott’s 42-yard field goal.
New England’s first two drives were short and not-so-sweet. Philadelphia’s big bodies were sealing off the lanes and leaving little room to run. They also brought heat on Brady, giving him little time to throw.
After exchanging punts, the Eagles went on an extended scoring drive that chewed 9:33 off the clock and was culminated by Wentz’s 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert.
Cornerback Jonathan Jones appeared to rip the ball from Goedert’s clutches as the pair landed in the end zone, and Jones was originally given the interception, but it was overturned on review.
Bill Belichick and several of his players believed the Jones theft should have stood, Belichick even going so far as to say, “I feel like we only gave up 3 points today.’’
The Eagles, who were short on offensive weapons with receivers Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson, and running back Jordan Howard out, employed some funky formations to compensate and move the ball.
Doug Pederson called bunches, stacks, and screens to get the ball into the hands of the tight ends and running back Miles Sanders. The Eagles only got to third down twice on the drive.
The Patriots adjusted, however, and held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the way as the Boogeymen took a cue from the Eagles and started turning up the heat on Wentz.
“I think in the second half, we did a better job of putting them in second-and-10 situations, second-and-8, and getting them to third down, where we were able to run some things,’’ said Jason McCourty.
The Eagles were just 1 of 7 on third down in the second half, as the Patriots turned the tables and kept Wentz’s drives short and sweet.
Danny Shelton, who had seven tackles, a key sack, and a forced fumble, said once the Patriots started to stiffen, it became contagious.
“Honestly we were all just hungry to keep making plays and do our job,’’ the big defensive tackle said of the second-half surge. “I feel like we did a great job of rallying together and finishing the game right.’’
The offense showed some signs of life, but the red-zone concerns continued — New England came in scoring on just half its trips to the coveted area.
The Patriots reached the red zone twice in the first half, but couldn’t punch it in, settling for Nick Folk field goals of 35 and 22 yards.
New England trimmed the deficit to 10-9 on another Folk field goal, this one from 39 yards, when a late first-half drive stalled at the 21.
Folk was a bit of a secret weapon, as he’s had a lot of experience kicking in Philadelphia as a member of the Cowboys and the Jets, a frequent preseason partner of the Eagles. His confidence was high.
“So it’s different wind today, I think that front that’s blowing in created a little different wind, and so it was just little trickier. But once you got it figured out, I told myself to just hit good, clean balls and they would kind of cut through there pretty well,’’ said Folk.