Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pats defense aggressive, opportunistic in W over Philly


The New England Patriots defense didn't see a ton of time on the field Friday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, but there were plenty of takeaways on either side of the spectrum in their limited performance.

First, the good: New England was plus-three in the turnover department, a product of a pair of interceptions by defensive backs Nate Ebner and Duron Harmon and two recovered fumbles. Three of those turnovers turned into touchdowns for the offense and aided in breaking the back-and-forth scoring frenzy that was the first half.

Moreover, the Philadelphia offense only saw 20 minutes of time on the field and had less than 100 yards rushing, a particular weak spot in the Pats' unit last year and impressive given the Eagles' potential to dominate in that aspect.

Now, the not-so-good: The first-team unit played well against Philly's starters, quashing any type of consistent attack and allowing only a field goal. With the strong safety position up in the air, however, the Eagles exploited in the middle of the field, utilizing their tight ends for moderate gains while the running game struggled.

Philadelphia's signal-callers put up huge numbers, combining for 324 yards through the air and an 82 percent completion rate. Former Jet Mark Sanchez threw for two touchdowns and had only one incomplete pass -- an interception in the third quarter.

Coach Bill Belichick spoke on the positives -- namely the turnovers -- after the game, pointing to the squad's aggressiveness as the reason for their numerous game-changing opportunities.

"If you get an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it. I’d say that’s the main thing," he said via "You get an opportunity, defensively you need to take advantage of it. [Whether] it’s dropped interceptions or missed fumbles or plays like that, they’re just foul balls.

"Those can be game-changing plays so when you get a chance to make them, you need to make them. It looked like we made most of them." 

Overall, Darrelle Revis and Co. were impressive in the three series they participated in, with literally no action going the Pro Bowler's direction. 

New England will continue to work out their safety issues in Foxborough for their final training camp practice Monday, and the team's third preseason game against the Panthers takes place Aug. 22 at home.

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