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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Losing to Eagles still bugs Patriots’ Brady, motivated him

Thu Nov 14 11:35am ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Nick Foles, Carson Wentz, Jordan Howard, N'Keal Harry, Miles Sanders

In this Feb. 4, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sits on the field after fumbling against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game, in Minneapolis. The Eagles upset the Patriots 41-33. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)


PHILADELPHIA (AP) Losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl two years ago still bugs Tom Brady, even though the New England Patriots rebounded to win their sixth title last season.

''That's a lot of mental scar tissue from that year,'' Brady said in his weekly radio appearance on WEEI in Boston. ''That was a tough game. In a lot of ways, we learned from that year and we came back stronger the next year. We won the Super Bowl in '18. I think everything is a matter of perspective and when you play in that game and you play great teams, you're not going to win them all.

''This is not the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals. This is all about tough competition against the best teams. They deserved it that year, and now a couple years later we get a chance to play the organization again. We've had a lot changes, they've had a lot of changes. It's totally different circumstances. Huge game for us. Big game for them. The better team is going to win.''

The Eagles (5-4) meet the Patriots (8-1) on Sunday for the first time since backup quarterback Nick Foles led Philadelphia to a 41-33 victory on Feb. 4, 2018, to capture the franchise's first championship since 1960.

Foles is in Jacksonville now, so the Patriots will get their first chance to see Carson Wentz. He was recovering from knee surgery and watched Foles' MVP performance against New England from the sideline.

''He can do it all - good arm, athletic, can extend plays, tough kid, can run if he needs to, can make all the throws, get the ball down the field, gets the ball to all his receivers, uses the backs, tight ends and receivers based on who is open, his route progression,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ''He's good at reading defenses. They give him a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage to change plays or adjust plays. There's some checking going on there and so forth. So, looks like he's pretty good at everything, a pretty accomplished guy.''

The Eagles have won two in a row after consecutive lopsided losses and are tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East. The Patriots are coming off their first loss, 37-20 in Baltimore.

Both teams had a bye so they're well-rested and some of the players who've been out are getting healthier.

HISTORIC COMPARISON

With rankings at or near the top of the NFL in several defensive categories, the Patriots have drawn comparisons to the 2000 Ravens' defense.

That Baltimore unit, led by future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, held opponents to a single-season record-low 10.3 points per game. The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl over the Giants that season.

The Patriots have allowed only 10.9 points per game through nine games, while allowing the fewest yards per game (249.3). They're first in interceptions (19), second in passing yards allowed (150.2) and fourth in sacks (32).

Eagles coach Doug Pederson started at quarterback for the Browns the second time they faced the Ravens that season and suffered cracked ribs in a 44-7 loss. He said he sees parallels between the two defenses.

''I think the biggest thing that jumps out to you right now, the glaring thing, is the turnover ratio,'' Pederson said. ''The fact that they've got six defensive scores this season, the interceptions, the fumbles they're causing - it's a brand of defense where they just smother you. They just corral you. They're OK with giving you 2, 3, 4 yards, but they're right on top of you.''

ROOKIE WATCH

Patriots rookie receiver N'Keal Harry is again available to make his NFL debut after being activated off injured reserve before the loss to Baltimore.

Harry, who was sidelined with a preseason ankle injury, has been practicing without restriction since being activated.

The 32nd overall pick in the draft became the first receiver selected by the Patriots in the first round since they chose Terry Glenn seventh overall in 1996. Harry is the first receiver taken in the first round under Belichick.

''We'll activate the players that we feel give us the best chance to compete against the Eagles,'' Belichick said about whether Harry will play.

THE WEAKNESS

The Patriots have allowed at least 135 yards rushing in four of their last six games, including 210 to the Ravens. Their vaunted defense has one flaw, susceptibility against the run. The Eagles' biggest strength is running the ball. Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders have combined for 861 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.

THE STRENGTH

Throwing the ball against New England is a tough task. The defense has allowed just three touchdown passes while making 19 interceptions. Wentz has only thrown four picks this season, but the Patriots have had four in a game three times already.

REINFORCEMENTS

Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters could return for the Eagles after missing time with a knee injury. Rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard played well in Peters' absence.

Player Notes
O.J. Howard Mar 29 10:23pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard's 'eyes should light up' at the opportunity to play with QB Tom Brady, according to head coach Bruce Arians. 'You have a quarterback who throws to the tight end, go earn it and get balls thrown to you,' Arians said.

Fantasy Spin: Despite playing four more games than he did in 2018, Howard finished with fewer yards and just one touchdown last year. The drop in production wasn't a surprise given the fact that Arians' system typically isn't kind to tight ends, but the arrival of Brady could change that in a big way. Howard is definitely worth grabbing as a TE1, and there is a chance he finishes as a top-five fantasy option at the position.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Jones II Mar 29 9:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones could face new competition for snaps on third down next season, according to head coach Bruce Arians. 'We'd love to have a pass-catching back,' Arians said.

Fantasy Spin: Jones rebounded in 2019 after a dreadful rookie campaign, tallying 1,031 yards from scrimmage and catching 31 passes. He should still handle most of the work on early downs, but if Jones isn't on the field in passing situations, it is going to limit his ceiling, especially with Tom Brady now under center. He's best viewed as a flex option for the time being.

From TheHuddle

Blake Bell Mar 29 9:23pm ET

Free-agent TE Blake Bell (Chiefs) agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year deal worth $1.7 million with $450,000 guaranteed, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Josh Allen Mar 29 7:13pm ET

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen had a league-high 7.2 percent of his pass attempts dropped last season.

From TheHuddle

Baker Mayfield Mar 29 7:03pm ET

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield had a league-high 20 passes batted down at or behind the line of scrimmage in 2019.

From TheHuddle

Kirk Cousins Mar 29 7:03pm ET

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins enjoyed a league-high average of 2.7 seconds in the pocket in 2019.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Jackson Mar 29 6:33pm ET

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson executed a league-high 173 run-pass option (RPO) plays in 2019 - 65 more than second-place Kyler Murray (108). Jackson also ranked third in play-action pass attempts with 163.

From TheHuddle

Patrick Mahomes Mar 29 6:33pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes was hurried 54 times in 2019 - a significant drop from a league-high 121 times in 2018.

From TheHuddle

Ryan Fitzpatrick Mar 29 6:33pm ET

Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was hit while passing a league-high 66 times last season - tied with New York Giants QB Daniel Jones for the most in the NFL.

From TheHuddle

Dalvin Cook Mar 29 5:43pm ET

Atlanta Falcons RB Todd Gurley was charged with the dropped pass on a league-high 14.3 percent of his targets in 2019 as a member of the Los Angeles Rams. Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay (12.5) and Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (11.1) were the only other qualified running backs with a drop rate of higher than nine percent.

From TheHuddle

Courtland Sutton Mar 29 5:43pm ET

Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton led all receivers with 12 broken tackles on receptions in 2019. Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson, former Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp tied for second among receivers with nine.

From TheHuddle

Julian Edelman Mar 29 5:23pm ET

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was charged with a league-high 13 drops in 2019 - five more than he had in 2018.

From TheHuddle

Le'Veon Bell Mar 29 5:23pm ET

New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell (1.2) averaged 1.2 yards before contact per attempt in 2019 - tied with Benny Snell for the worst mark in the league among qualified rushers last season.

From TheHuddle

Leonard Fournette Mar 29 5:13pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette finished fifth in the league among qualified rushers in fewest yards before contact per attempt (1.4) in 2019. Meanwhile, his three yards after contact per attempt was good for the third-best mark in the league.

From TheHuddle

Raheem Mostert Mar 29 4:53pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RBs Raheem Mostert (3.5) and Matt Breida (3.3) ranked first and second, respectively, in the league among running backs in average yards before contact per attempt last season.

From TheHuddle

Aaron Rodgers Mar 29 4:43pm ET

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was charged with a 'bad throw' on a league-high 21.2 percent of his passes in 2019.

From TheHuddle

Tom Brady Mar 29 4:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady was charged with 116 'bad throws' in 2019, six fewer than league leader Jameis Winston - his predecessor in Tampa Bay.

From TheHuddle

Jimmy Garoppolo Mar 29 4:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo was 'on target' - defined as a throw that would have hit the receiver - on 80.7 percent of his passes in 2019 - the fourth-highest mark in the league.

From TheHuddle

Dak Prescott Mar 29 4:23pm ET

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott was on the wrong end of an NFL-high 36 drops last season.

From TheHuddle