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Spadaro: 15 takeaways from the Eagles' win over the Patriots

Jalen Hurts
Jalen Hurts

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – This went as expected, the Eagles' opener at New England did, with a tough, physical game of football chess that saw Philadelphia get off to a terrific start, stall in the middle part of the game, and then chip away, chip away, chip away in the later going to win their third straight season lid-lifter on the road – 25-20 over the Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

"I think first and foremost, I think that's a great, great win, a great win for us, being able to be resilient." quarterback Jalen Hurts said. "Obviously for me, winning is the only thing that matters and that's something that I've always said all the time. And so that is the mentality right now. That will always be the mentality. Winning is the only thing that matters. I think we obviously have things that we need to work on and have to be better in those situations when the ball is in my hands, and I take full accountability for that. But good thing about it is we get the opportunity to play on Thursday."

It was a grinding victory, and all that matters is that the Eagles are 1-0 and have a short week ahead with Minnesota (0-1) coming to town on Thursday night.

"I know we have a lot to clean up," center Jason Kelce said. "But we won the game and we'll take it. That's all that matters. We're leaving here with a win."

Sunday had its share of just about everything, so here is what stood out in the hard-fought win ...

1. Huge defensive effort, particularly late in the fourth quarter after a Jalen Hurts fumble was recovered by New England at the Philadelphia 41-yard line with 3 minutes, 28 seconds remaining. After Ezekiel Elliott gained 5 yards, the defensive line came up big. Josh Sweat and Jordan Davis sacked quarterback Mac Jones for a 7-yard loss on second down, Milton Williams put pressure on Jones on a downfield throw on which cornerback Darius Slay (more on him later) made a nice breakup, and then on fourth-and-17, the line again put some pressure on Jones and made him throw incomplete. Then, after the Eagles failed on a fourth-and-2 play with two minutes remaining, the defense gave a little, gave a little, but ultimately held on downs.

2. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter had his first career sack late in that defensive stand and while the statistics say he had only one tackle, it was for a 3-yard loss and he added a quarterback hurry. He has so much talent and as the defensive line rotated throughout the game, Carter made his presence felt.

"I'm not saying it's my time, but it's time for someone to make a play," Carter said. "At that moment in the game, everybody is rushing trying to make a play for the win. Everybody is just trying to execute the plan."

3. Things started so well for the offense. On its first drive, Philadelphia featured running back Kenneth Gainwell, who had the lead role in the backfield (Rashaad Penny was a healthy scratch). Gainwell had eight touches on the drive for 43 yards (6 rushes, 29 yards; 2 catches, 14 yards). He also made a key block on safety Jabrill Peppers to allow Hurts to convert on a third-and-11 run with a 14-yard gain. In all, Gainwell gained 43 of the team's 56 yards on the drive and 4 of 5 first downs. The drive ended with a Jake Elliott 32-yard field goal.

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4. Elliott kicked field goals of 32, 56, 48, and 51 yards. He was on point and had no problem with distance on a rainy New England day.

5. Darius "Big Play" Slay certainly started the season off the right way, picking off Jones on New England's first offensive drive when a Jones pass glanced off the hands of wide receiver Kendrick Bourne into the hands of Slay, who headed down left sideline, made a move inside, and scored on a 70-yard return to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead.

"We got the win, that's all that matters, but we've got to go out there and put out a better tape," Slay said. "We need to go out there and fix our mistakes. Overall we got the win and that's what it's all about. But as a leader on this defense I know we need to go out and execute better cause we're better than that. I have to give props to that team, they came out and made adjustments. We're better than that and we got to go and make a better tape."

6. The defense then had another takeaway on the following possession when Davis stripped Elliott of the football and linebacker Zach Cunningham recovered. Hurts turned that into a touchdown pass to wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

"I didn't even know what happened until I walked to the sideline," Davis said. "I just thought I got a tackle for a loss. Just doing the fundamentals, wrapping at the ball, securing the tackle, and then whatever happens, happens. Grateful for (Cunningham) scooping it up."

7. And what a throw that way – Hurts rolled right and threw a perfect pass with safety Kyle Dugger in coverage and Smith made a sliding catch in the end zone.

"It was perfect coverage, Cover 0. It worked out," Smith said. "It was a great throw by Jalen. He threw the ball low and kept the ball away from the defender."

8. Nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox had a sensational pass breakup in the second quarter and a very strong game overall with 6 total tackles, one for loss, and two passes defensed.

9. Strong defense, right? Here were New England's first four possessions of the game: 7 plays, 34 yards, 2 first downs, and the Slay Pick Six. On the next four possessions, New England ran 10 plays, had 9 total yards, and the fumble that led to six Eagles points.

10. An outstanding game for punter Arryn Siposs. He helped the Eagles get out of bad field position early with his first four punts averaging 47.3 yards from bad field position – the 16-yard line, the 8-yard line, the 14-yard line, and the 16-yard line.

11. Britain Covey had a nice 25-yard punt return early in the third quarter to start off a 10-play, 33-yard drive that ended with Elliott's 56-yard field goal.

12. An underrated great tackle by Reed Blankenship – who led the team with 11 total tackles and had two passes defensed – on third-and-10 from the 38-yard line in the fourth quarter. The play forced a fourth-and-8 from the 36-yard line that New England converted, but the drive stalled because ...

13. Fletcher Cox came up huge. First, he had a nice play on third-and-3 from the 17-yard line on an Elliott running play and then the Patriots went for it and Cox pressured inside, made Jones move, Haason Reddick added pressure, and got to Jones to force a throwaway to end the drive with 9:32 to go.

The Eagles are in New England to take on the Patriots to kick off the 2023 regular season. Check out the best photos from the game!

14. When in doubt, go to wide receiver A.J. Brown, who had completions of 23 yards and 15 yards in the fourth quarter. He had three catches for 46 yards on a drive that ended with Elliott's 51-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 25-14 lead.

15. Justin Evans had seven total tackles and started at safety and Nakobe Dean flew around with seven total tackles before leaving the game with a foot injury. Philadelphia limited New England to 76 rushing yards and a 3.5-yard-per-carry average.

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