By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) – It was a beating. After a couple of joint practices in Philadelphia this week, the Patriots had no interest in giving up an inch to the Eagles in their preseason game Thursday night.
New England took a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes and never looked back, en route to a 35-0 victory.
Despite the big win, there were still some negatives for the Patriots. There could also have been some positives.
Matthew Judon and Jalen Mills
A couple of new Patriots combined to make a play that changed the game from the start. After the Eagles got a couple of first downs on opening possession, an errant shotgun blast went over the head of quarterback Joe Flacco.
Flacco managed to recover the loose ball and tried to do something with the play. That was reckless.
Matthew Judon smelled the blood and reached Flacco with ease. When Judon made contact, the ball came loose from Flacco’s grip.
– New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 19, 2021
Jalen Mills, the former Eagle, was chasing him and ended up recovering the fumble at the Philadelphia 9-yard line. Damien Harris was in the end zone two plays later.
Third-down race stuff / fourth-down stops
The Eagles appeared to rebound from that embarrassing start with a series of touchdowns. Inside the Patriots defense made sure it didn’t happen.
With the Eagles facing a third-and-1 and their own 31-yard line, the call was for an inside transfer to Jordan Howard. Rookie Christian Barmore and veteran Lawrence Guy went to work on the line, getting a push from Dont’a Hightower. With a lane obstructed for Howard, Kyle Van Noy flew in to finish the stop on third down, forcing a punt from Philadelphia.
Improving the running defense was a significant need for the Patriots in the offseason. This was a positive sign in that regard.
The Patriots defense had another chance to make a big play in the second quarter, when the Eagles opted to do it at a quarter-and-3 from New England’s 9-yard line. Flacco threw at Quez Watkins, but Mills had him well covered. Kyle Dugger reached over to get both hands on the pass. He couldn’t make the pick, but easily broke the pass for fumble on downs.
The eagles tried again on a fourth attempt before halftime, but the Patriots made another stop. This time it was Justin Bethel in tight coverage against Jalen Reagor. Bethel interrupted the pass and linebacker Harvey Langi flew in for an interception. The Patriots defense came into play in this one.
Cam was fine. Very good. Looks like it’s ready for week 1 alright.
Newton was in the field for three units. The first involved two transfers, the second of which was for a touchdown.
On the second drive, he was 4 of 5 for 56 yards. In the next, he was 4 of 4 for 47 yards and a touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers.
The Running Backs
It would be a mistake to choose just one. The corridors were spectacular.
We could start with statistics … or we could start with jukes. And man we should start with him jukes.
Damien Harris: Juke Haver certified.
– The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 20, 2021
Sony Michel: brought jukes.
– NFL (@NFL) August 20, 2021
JJ Taylor: Your first name may be Juke.
JJ Taylor with the twist 🌪 #NFLPreseason
– NFL (@NFL) August 20, 2021
That’s a lot of jokes.
As for the stats, here it goes.
Sony Michel: 7 runs, 34 yards; 4 receptions, 37 yards
Damien Harris: 6 carries, 14 yards, TD
Rhamondre Stevenson: 15 carries, 66 yards, 2 TDs; 1 catch, 8 yards
JJ Taylor: 12 carries, 93 yards, TD; 3 receptions, 18 yards
As a team, the Patriots rushed for 210 yards on 41 carries. (That excludes three knees from Brian Hoyer.) Taylor also had 34 punt return yards on three attempts.
The blocking was obviously excellent. And the runners had a fun night.
Jakobi meyers he was the Patriots’ number one, and with three receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown on three goals, he delivered the way the team would like. … Mac Jones It wasn’t necessarily spectacular, but it looks good for a newbie. He was 13 of 19 for 146 yards. … Adrian colbert retained the shutout with a late interception of a detour.
The undrafted rookie kicker missed his first field goal attempt of the night. It was a 36-yard dash, a simple chip shot, but he pushed it well.
Later, in the first quarter, he missed an extra point. Wide to the right.
Early in the second half … another PAT … another miss. Wide to the right.
AND that it’s how fast NFL careers can change. In that position, the margin of error is very small.
The third-year defender looks to make an impact. He wasted time this offseason and didn’t exactly get a great endorsement from Bill Belichick the other day.
But he had the wrong kind of impact early in the second quarter, when he got a little aggressive chasing Joe Flacco. After the pass was thrown, Winovich kept chasing the QB. Winovich could have been gently pushed, causing him to fall directly on Flacco’s legs.
Instead of an incomplete third attempt, he waved a flag to mistreat the passer. That is not what Winovich needed.
He made up for it later in the second quarter when he reached out and captured Flacco in a second and 3, and he came up with a catch of Nick Mullens (which was in his pocket for 45 minutes) in the third quarter, both of which undoubtedly help his cause.
The receiver is still trying to make an impact. He tried it by landing a deep ball from Mac Jones late in the first half. But he could not drag him and suffered an injury on the play. Whether it was his shoulder or his head or his back or anything else is anyone’s guess, but he stayed on the grass for quite some time before walking to the bench with the Patriots medical staff.
Absolute cent from Mac Jones and a good route on N’Keal Harry’s Go Ball. I hope it’s okay, but you have to catch it. Two weeks in a row now Mac has dropped one into the bucket down the left sideline. pic.twitter.com/Xy29MBnx2h
– Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) August 20, 2021
Harry had a great catch early in the game, finding a weak spot on defense for a 19-yard gain to convert to a third and 13. But finishing this game early could be a problem for him as he progresses.
He, of course, had fun, as already mentioned. But he also coughed the ball in the fourth quarter. Even at the end of a preseason blowout, giving the ball to the other team is a huge demerit to Bill Belichick’s team.
Belichick actually rescued Stevenson in the first half, after officials ruled that the runner had caught a pass and lost it. Belichick challenged the play, although the benefit was only a five-yard difference. The Patriots won the challenge, turning the fumble into an incomplete. But there was no way to save Stevenson on that fourth-quarter fumblerooski.