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Punt Block TD Highlights Specials' Day

Posted Dec 6, 2015

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It was perfect, from the jump Chris Maragos got off the line of scrimmage, to the way he timed his body and arm extension to block Ryan Allen's punt, to the way Najee Goode scooped up the bouncing football and sprinted 24 yards for a late-first half touchdown to give the Eagles a 14-14 tie with New England heading into halftime on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

It was more than Maragos and Goode, of course, as special teams came up huge just before halftime in a 35-28 win over New England. And the play was only part of a pretty awesome day for the special teams, which also contributed a Darren Sproles 83-yard punt return for a score, a recovery of a strange onsides kick and the smart play by Riley Cooper to knock a late-game onsides kick out of bounds after the Patriots had recovered one onsides kick and turned it into seven points.

Whew.

"It takes big plays by everyone to beat this New England team," Maragos said. "In this game, there were huge plays that helped turn the game around."

On a play that the Eagles used with success last year, they found the magic formula again against New England to block their first punt of the season. Goode's return was the second for a touchdown of the year -- Darren Sproles had an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 3 -- and it couldn't have come at a better time.

With 15 seconds remaining in the first half, Allen lined up for a punt that figured to be, at worst for New England, a boot that wouldn't give Sproles much of a chance to hurt the Patriots with a return. With the line of scrimmage at the New England 38-yard line, Allen took the snap and took his steps and suddenly Maragos, who shot the gap between center and left guard, was right there to smother the kick.

The ball bounced a few times before Goode scooped it up and ran untouched into the end zone for the big, big score.

"It really starts with coach (Dave) Fipp. He saw some weaknesses and put together a great plan for us to go out there and play," Maragos said. "It was really our teammates being unselfish. Bryan Braman draws a lot of attention just being so big and fast. Both guys slammed down on him. Ed Reynolds stayed wide and that helped open up the hole for me to come in and make the play.

"I knew the punter was going to try to get it off fast. I dipped my shoulder and I knew I came through free. I knew I couldn't waste any steps. I visualize for days, weeks, years that kind of scenario so that when I'm there I am ready to make the play. Then the ball is right there for Najee, who turned it into a touchdown."

Goode had it easy, picking up the football and scoring his first career touchdown.

"It was a huge momentum shift for us," Goode said. "It was a golden opportunity for me. We rushed the punter at the end of the half and when I saw 'Gos' flying in there, I was like, 'Just don't hit the punter.' The ball was like a golden egg. I saw it there and knew I was going to score. I took it back to my high school quarterback days."

Last season's special teams ranked first in the NFL for their effectiveness, including four blocked punts, one of which Maragos returned for a touchdown against the Rams. The Eagles also blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown in a 2014 loss at San Francisco.

On this day, in this game, the Eagles needed as many big plays as they could muster and the special teams dominated the Patriots.

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