Something Doesn't Feel Right

FOXBORO - There could not have been a more saddened fan base leaving Gillette Stadium Sunday night. Looking at the crowd, you would have thought the New England Patriots lost a heartbreaker.

In fact, the Patriots 31-28 victory was a great win. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led the Patriots to another sensational come-from-behind victory and yet you could swear the Eagles won the game. It was Tom Brady's 26th career game-winning fourth quarter victory, but all the national football media, especially ESPN, could talk about how the Eagles have discovered a so-called "blueprint" to beat the Patriots. Hogwash! The blueprint failed. The Eagles lost.

The problem the Patriots are facing now is they are not playing against the Eagles or the Ravens next Monday night. They are playing against football immortality and they are playing against there own excellence. A Super Bowl Championship simply isn't good enough anymore. They have already done that three times. Going 19-0 is something no team has ever done.With the Red Sox winning another World Series and the Celtics looking like championship contenders, Boston sports fans are simply spoiled and anything less than a blowout and a perfect game is considered a poor performance.

Maybe this is why Sunday's come-from-behind victory feels more like a loss. During the entire game, career journeyman quarterback A.J. Feeley seemingly led the Eagles offense up and down the field at will against the Patriots sixth ranked defense. The Patriots had great difficulty stopping the Eagles on third down especially, with the Eagles converting eight of 13 third downs, including a fourth down conversion. The Eagles also dominated the Patriots in time of possession during the first half by five minutes. The Eagles pulled out all the stops with a successful onside kick and using a flee-flicker.

Feeley sliced up the Patriots defense throwing for 345 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots had trouble all game getting pressure on Feeley. When they were able to get some pressure, Feeley still was able to complete passes for first downs. "He came in and we tried to blitz him and we couldn't get to him and he was just lighting us up," said Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel, who saved the Patriots with two key interceptions, one for a score.

Tedy Bruschi said "Even with pressure right in (Feeley's) face, off his back foot he made some throws and he put the ball in a position where it was going to be the receiver making the play or the defensive back making the play and their receivers made some great catches tonight."

The Eagles defense also put a lot of pressure on Tom Brady, sacking him three times. Moss caught five passes for only 43 yards. Everything was pointing to a Patriots loss when Moss was flagged for a questionable offensive pass interference call negating a Patriots touchdown. The score would have given the Patriots a comfortable 10 point lead. The Patriots would then miss the ensuing field goal and Feeley and the Eagle promptly drove 78 yards down the field for the go-ahead touchdown.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with head coach Bill Belichick after the Patriots scored a touchdown in the second quarter during their NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in this Nov. 25, 2007 file photo in Foxborough, Mass. Kevin Faulk, left, and Heath Evans celebrate in the background. Even Belichick is having a hard time ignoring the attention on his team as they get ever closer to the NFL's first unbeaten season in 35 years.(AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)

It seemed to be one of those games the Patriots were not meant to win. The Eagles maybe wanted it more. The Patriots were not as invincible as everyone thought. It's one thing for the undefeated Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts to give the Patriots a tough game, but not the 5-5 Eagles. But the Eagles still have a lot of talent and an excellent head coach in Andy Reid and one of the best defensive coordinators in the league in Jimmy Johnson and were poised to have their best game.

"Philadelphia is a good football team and they gave us a number of problems in all three phases of the game," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "They have a good passing attack. They have a real good offensive line. It's hard to get pressure on them. Feeley did a good job, like we've seen him do against us before. (Brian) Westbrook is a tough guy to tackle. We missed him a few times and that's not uncommon - so does everybody else. We have a lot of things we need to work on. There are things we can do better, but they're a good offensive football team. Andy (Reid) does a good job with their scheme. They present a lot of problems defensively trying to match up with them and they obviously made some plays."

The fact is the Patriots did win and it was a great win. The old sports adage "great teams win close games" should apply to this current Patriots team, but for some reason, in the eyes of the football nation this doesn't stick. The Patriots have two come-from-behind wins and those wins should be worth more than the 56-10 blowout of the Bills the prior week.

"All the games are challenges but you have to hand it to the Eagles on the way they played tonight and they did a great job," said Patriots receiver Wes Welker after the game. "You have to take your hats off to them and we need to go back to the drawing board and make sure we are on top of our stuff. They aren't all easy and we realize that and sometimes you have to fight to the end."

Sure, tip your hat to the Eagles and to Feeley for a good game, but the fact is Feeley still threw three untimely interceptions and the Eagles still lost the game. At the end of the night, the Patriots improved to 11-0 and the Eagles dropped to 5-6.

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