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How Jeffrey Lurie fired up the Eagles

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Jeffery Lurie was sweating, his tufty white hair a-muss, but the spring in his bobbing gait had a youthful zest to it.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has given to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has raised nearly $1 million in the Philadelphia area.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has given to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has raised nearly $1 million in the Philadelphia area.Read moreFile photo

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Jeffery Lurie was sweating, his tufty white hair a-muss, but the spring in his bobbing gait had a youthful zest to it.

Asked to stop and speak, he politely declined.

He had said enough for one day.

Lurie had just "broken it down" after the Eagles' 35-28 upset of the team he once loved; the team he tried to buy. After a win, and after Chip Kelly addresses the club, the team allows that day's hero to go to the middle of the team huddle and send the Eagles off with inspiration; break it down, as it were.

That's right.

Little Jeff Lurie played Vince Lombardi before the game, and was Jimmy Johnson after it.

How 'bout them Eagles?!

Before the game, Lurie went from player to player - as he always does - but this time with a fiercer, more urgent underlying message:

Do not embarrass me in my hometown.

He addressed them individually and in a group. But he addressed them with a rowdiness that belies his forgetful-professor demeanor.

"He was fired up today! I'd never seen him like that in front of everybody," said left tackle Jason Peters, an Eagle for seven years: " 'Play with a fire! Play angry! Go out there and let it rip!' "

Lurie, said Peters, was out of control.

"It's probably something built up over the years," Peters observed.


Lurie, raised in Boston, looks northeast with jealousy and admiration. He sees the team Robert Kraft stole from him in 1994, when Kraft outbid Lurie . . . who then spent even more on the Eagles, just 3 months later.

Lurie saw Kraft build an evil, cheating empire, complete with Darth Brady and Sith Lord Belichick - who, true to character, even wears a hood. After the 2004 season, Brady and Belichick Spygated the Eagles out of the best chance the franchise ever had to win a Super Bowl. The Pats then Deflategated their way to a fourth championship last winter.

Now, Lurie was at Gillette Stadium with a club that had lost four of five, three in a row and the last two by a combined score of 90-31. It was a punch-line team, and Lurie feared obliteration in his hometown against his hated rival.

"I understand the history between the Eagles and the Patriots," said Eagles linebacker Conner Barwin, who registered two of the four sacks. "It's unusual, but it's always nice to hear that sort of intensity from your owner."

Especially from an owner whose squeaky voice does not recall Mike Ditka. Well, sincerity must count for something.

"You fired me up!" linebacker Brandon Graham shouted at Lurie as Graham bounded up the tunnel. Graham had the other two sacks and was beaming, ear to ear.

Lurie smiled back; a predatory smile.

His Eagles, rested and desperate, had encountered wounded, limping prey. They tore it, haunch and throat.

The Patriots lacked tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Dont'a Hightower. This personnel shortage apparently caused a cerebral imbalance in Belichick's mighty brain. He called silly trick plays on offense and special teams. He mismanaged the clock so badly at the end of the first half, the Patriots had to punt. Chris Maragos blocked it and Najee Goode returned it for a tying touchdown.

This was like watching Andy Reid in 1999.

Certainly, the Eagles made plays of their own. Walter Thurmond deflected a pass at the 1-yard line that Malcolm Jenkins intercepted and returned 99 yards for a go-ahead touchdown midway through the third quarter. Sam Bradford, out for two weeks with a concussion and separated left shoulder, threw two touchdown passes, no interceptions and threaded a third-down strike that essentially iced the win. DeMarco Murray's playing time dwindled, allowing Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner more touches. Sproles returned a punt 83 yards to make it a two-touchdown lead late in the third.

Still, this Patriots assemblage was nowhere near as potent as the team that ripped off 10 wins to start the season.

"We knew they were going to be vulnerable," Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said. "We knew we had an advantage. This is the most energizing game in a long time, something we desperately needed. It would have been tough to come back from (a loss)."

Granted, this is something of a hollow victory. The Eagles are just 5-7, a "long shot," Johnson admitted, to make the playoffs.

The Patriots, meanwhile, remain atop their division, will likely get a home playoff game and, if they get healthy, might earn a bye.

If nothing else, then, this a game on which the Eagles can build.

The season, really, is about evaluating Bradford, who looked pretty good. Young players Eric Rowe, Ed Reynolds and Jonathan Krause got a chance to play. On the other hand, linebacker Kiko Alonso affirmed once and for all he is a liability, and the team functioned well with Murray marginalized.

More to the point, the team played in the image of its owner; with a sense of . . .





That's Jeffrey Lurie, to a "T."

On Twitter: @inkstainedretch