On the weekend after Thanksgiving the Patriots have many things to be thankful for. They can be thankful for Moss and the Raiders for just wanting a 4th rounder, Miami letting us have Welker and Morris, getting Donte Stallworth of the free agent market, and Adalius Thomas landing in out lap. But, the thing they should be most thankful for perhaps could be the nail biter that the Eagles gave them. What a game by the way. It was very fun to watch. Very nerve-racking too.
The game against the Eagles not only gave the fans some excitement, but it put some confidence and trust in the Patriots players. They now have the confidence that they can make, not only big offensive plays, but defensive ones as well. Asante had two picks one of them lead to a touchdown and the other gave us the win. As Rodney Harrison said, it helped the players trust each other and that they would come through when they were needed.
Not only did the Eagles give us confidence and trust, but they caused one more thing. This thing, perhaps, is the most important of all. They got rid of out sense of invincibility. This will help us stay alert and try hard in practice. We won't fall into those so called 'trap games'. The players will pay more attention and practice harder. Thanks to Philadelphia making that game so close, we may go undefeated. If the Eagles lost by three touchdowns instead of just three points the Patriots would likely feel invulnerable. Therefore they would lose games that they should have won like the last time A.J. Feeley faced them as a starter. That was all the way back in 2004 when Feeley was the Dolphins quarterback.
This game has exposed weaknesses of the Patriots to teams around the league. Besides that, though, it may have exposed weaknesses to the Patriots that they didn't know about before or maybe know they will be compelled to change that problem. That problem is they are leaving the middle wide open to receivers down field. That's why Eagles receivers were consistently open and A.J. Feeley hit them dead on almost every passing play. Near the end of the game the Patriots put Rodney Harrison in a zone to cover the middle. Unfortunately, Harrison isn't a coverage safety. Hopefully this week, before the Jets game, Belichick will come up with some genius coverage scheme that will cover up that huge gap in the middle.
It also revealed that the Patriots have trouble blocking creative blitzing schemes that the defensive genius that is Jim Johnson came up with. I can't believe he doesn't get more respect from sports analysts and just sports fans.This was possibly caused by the Patriots going with no tight end nearly all game long. Now that the Patriots have seen that they need help blocking they will either keep an extra back in to block or keep Ben Watson or Kyle Brady in for most of the game. This will help them block and it is something new for the opposing teams to figure out.
Philly also shut down the Patriots biggest offensive threat. Randy Moss. They pressed him with Lito Sheppard and kept a safety back deep to keep him from getting by them. Moss had five grabs for under 50 yards and he was virtually shut down in the second half. There was one play where Randy managed to get deep and Brady floated a pass right into his hands. It just bounced off and fell to the ground innocently.
I am surprised the Patriots won this game. The entire thrid quarter I was sure the game was Philadelphia's. They had played great all game, especially Feeley and his offensive line. Their receiver's found openings easily and they were penetrating our line easily. Everything was going right for the Eagles and they had the game in the bag. They were aggresive in the beginning, middle, and perhaps a bit too aggressive at the end when they went for the long bomb which turned into an easy pick for none other than Asante Samuel. There is no way we can let Asante go. The Patriots ran down the clock and punted with 30 seconds left. Westbrook returned, but he was tackled after gaining a few yards. Then Feeley threw another pick that sealed the game up for the Patriots. The way the Patriots have been able to come back from behind this year reminds me of how they played in the Superbowl years. I'm looking forward to next week against the Ravens.