Super Bowl LII it wasn’t.
And that’s a good thing for the Patriots, who avenged their humiliating loss to the Eagles following the 2017 season with a slogging 17-10 win on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Expecting another offensive explosion? Not even close. New England and Philadelphia combined for 1,156 yards that day in Minnesota – the most ever in an NFL game, regular or postseason. Sunday’s contest in the City of Brotherly Love featured less than half that, with 553 yards between the teams.
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Tom Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards against the Eagles in LII. On Sunday, he was a less-than-stellar 26 for 47 passing for just 216 yards in one of his more inaccurate performances in recent memory.
None of it mattered, thanks to a New England defense that turned back the clocks to Weeks 1-8 of the 2019 season. Gone was the unit that was gashed by the Ravens two weeks ago in Baltimore, back were the self-anointed “Boogiemen.” Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower were among five Patriots with sacks, joined by Adam Butler, John Simon and Danny Shelton as players who got to quarterback Carson Wentz.
For both Butler and Van Noy, it was sack No. 5.5 on the season; that’s a new career high for Butler and it matches Van Noy’s personal best from 2017.
Aside from a 16-play, 95-yard scoring drive in the first quarter – which at the time, to be fair, was a dreadful sight from a New England perspective – the Wentz-led offense did just about zip, zilch and nada. Nick Foles ain’t walking through that door.
Through three quarters, Patriots cornerbacks allowed only 22 yards to Eagles wide receivers. Malcolm Butler’s services weren’t required.
Make no mistake about it, New England’s whole offense was mediocre on Sunday. Settling for field goals didn’t come back to haunt the team thanks to the leg of Nick Folk, playing in his second game for the Patriots, who did his job with successful kicks from 35, 22 and 39 yards out.
New England’s one trip to the end zone today didn’t involve Brady or the running game, but a former college quarterback who’s been known to excel on trick plays when called upon. Julian Edelman connected with Phillip Dorsett on third and 11 for a 15-yard touchdown pass, which gave the Patriots a 15-10 lead with 10:49 to go in the third quarter. James White rushed in for a two-point conversion to complete the game’s scoring.
If you look close enough, you can find the slightest of reasons for optimism within New England's offense in the form of N'Keal Harry's debut, which featured three catches for 18 yards and a single catch for Jakobi Meyers, significant only for its timing on a third down in the second half.
Sony Michel's sophomore slump continues, after a 33-yard performance on 10 carries, not to mention a bad drop on a pass from Brady which nearly resulted in an interception in the first half. As a team, the Patriots had only 74 yards on the ground on 22 carries.
At the end of the day, New England will enter Week 12 with a one-game lead on the Baltimore Ravens for the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC playoff picture at 9-1. The Patriots are now home for the first time since Week 8, where they'll host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
Brady is 4-0 in his career against Dallas.