(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here)
The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Patriots everything they had last night in Foxboro, nearly disrupting the Patriots journey to an undefeated season. The Eagles made certain there would be no talk of “RunningupthescoreGate” after last night’s game forcing the Patriots’ starters to play a full sixty minutes. The Eagles listened to John Madden’s advice from earlier in the week, “come out and be aggressive”, and aggressive they were, eschewing a field goal early in the game, going for it on fourth-and-one, which led to their first touchdown. Later in the half, they surprised the Patriots, recovering an onside kick. The Patriots showed their true spirit though, ultimately charging back and pulling out the 31-28 victory. Tom Brady’s assault on Peyton Manning’s touchdown record was put on hold last night, instead Brady who was 34-of-54, 380 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, showed why he already holds a 3-to-1 lead over Manning in the only record that matters. With Brady’s performance last night, Michael Felger tells us he has regained the MVP vote from Randy Moss. The Eagles did everything possible to contain Randy Moss, holding Moss to 5 catches for 43 yards, but all that attention left the speedy Wes Welker (13 catches, 149 yards) to post a career game. This is a great way to describe the impact of Wes Welker. Along with Welker, Robert Lee of the Providence Journal has Jabar Gaffney having a “breakout” game.
For all of the talk about a record 22.5 point spread, Vegas surely got this one wrong. It did serve to provide some extra motivation for the Philadelphia players, who were not scared. The big question now, which will surely be debated all week is whether the rest of the league now has a blueprint on how to defeat, or at least disrupt the Patriots. If nothing else, Tony Massarotti says last night’s game proved the Patriots are vulnerable. Jackie MacMullan puts a more positive spin on the meaning of last night’s hard fought victory. No matter what gameplan teams decide to use, ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli says that you “cannot fool Brady”. Don Banks says the Patriots’ narrow victory may serve to help them in the long run.
Asante Samuel’s two bookend interceptions were huge, and ultimately the deciding factors in last night’s game. Jeff Horrigan has Rodney Harrison calling Samuel “the best defensive back in the NFL.” While a majority of the attention will be paid to the Eagles defensive scheme, AJ Feeley, the Eagles back-up QB played a tremendous game with the only tarnishes coming on the Samuel picks.
Amongst all of last night’s drama, the Patriots have clinched the AFC East, making them the Division Champions and also tying them with three other teams for the fastest to secure the division since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
Scott Benson over at Patriots Daily has the Patriots dodging a bullet last night. That plus random thoughts on last night’s victory.