FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - With the start of the game less than an hour away at Gillette Stadium Sunday afternoon, owner Jeffrey Lurie and an entourage of Eagles front-office personnel walked through the press box area. At that precise moment, they liked what they saw on the bank of wall-mounted flat screens to their left.
"Yes," one of them shouted as the New York Jets scored a game-tying touchdown late in regulation against the New York Giants up at the Meadowlands. Presumably, the group was even more pleased a short time later when the Jets, after being down by 10 in the second half, pulled out a victory in overtime.
It was more evidence that you're never out of it in the down-and-out NFC East, but cheering for the losers in front of you to keep on losing is no way to go through an NFL season. At some point, you have to show signs of life on your own without relying solely on another fall-from-ahead loss by the Giants.
On paper, of course, it seemed delusional to think that the Eagles could resuscitate a season that had sunken to great depths during three straight losses against much lesser quarterbacks and teams than Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Add in the fact that the Patriots were coming off their first loss of the season the week before in Denver and the massive amount of turbulence that Eagles coach Chip Kelly was dealing with in his own locker room and what unfolded on this beautiful autumn day in New England seemed less likely than a snowball fight in July.
Somehow, however, the Eagles reversed their recent fortunes and played by far their best game of the season, scoring 35 unanswered points before holding on for a 35-28 victory.
Suddenly, this Eagles season has some meaning again because they showed they can still play the game and they remain in the league's most forgiving division.
The win, spurred by two great special teams plays, a 99-yard interception return by Malcolm Jenkins and four sacks and two interceptions of Brady, ended the Eagles' three-game losing streak. It was the first time they had ever beaten a Patriots team coached by Bill Belichick and quarterbacked by Brady.
The Eagles appeared to be on the verge of another lopsided loss midway through the second quarter when Brady found Danny Amendola for an 11-yard touchdown pass that gave New England a 14-0 lead. At that point, the Eagles had been outscored 128-37 in that surreal stretch of bad football since they held a 16-3 in a home game against Miami.
Up in the press box, they announced another Brady career accomplishment. It was his 30th TD pass of the season, marking the sixth time he has reached a number that most quarterbacks never reach once. Only three quarterbacks in league history have done it more times.
When Brady threw a touchdown to running back James White on the first play of the second quarter, the announcement was that the future Hall of Fame quarterback had surpassed Dan Marino at No. 3 on the all-time list with 421 TD throws.
Yes, this sure did look like it was going to be another long day for an Eagles team that had lost his way.
And then, the Patriots did something that gave the Eagles life.
An attempt to catch the Eagles off guard on the kickoff following their second touchdown failed and gave the Eagles the ball at their own 41-yard line. After managing just four first downs without crossing midfield on their first four series, quarterback Sam Bradford and the offense put together an eight-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz.
They had life.
By halftime, the Eagles also had momentum, thanks to a special-teams play by the duo of Chris Maragos and Najeh Goode. With 15 seconds left in the half, Maragos broke through the middle of the Patriots line and blocked a Ryan Allen punt. Goode scooped the ball up at the 24-yard line and ran it in for a game-tying touchdown.
The events of the third quarter were stunning. First, there was the 99-yard interception return by Jenkins after the Patriots had a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. That put the Eagles up by seven.
A little more than three minutes later, Darren Sproles worked his way down the left sideline and into the end zone for an 83-yard punt return that put the Eagles up 28-14.
New England's next offensive series ended with Byron Maxwell clutching a Brady pass in the end zone to end another scoring threat. The Eagles' offense pushed the lead to 21 with an early fourth quarter touchdown pass from Bradford to Jordan Matthews.
Nope, it was game on for Brady and the Patriots.
Even without some of his best offensive weapons, Brady got the Patriots within seven and New England had a chance to win when they got the ball back with 1:07 remaining.
The Eagles, however, held on and their season, at least for now, was saved.