FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Eagles' special teams haven't been nearly as special this season as they were a year ago, but the calendar, like so much else, got flipped upside down Sunday.
The Eagles blocked a punt for a touchdown, then got an 83-yard Darren Sproles punt return for a score, allowing them to slip past the New England Patriots, 35-28, on a day when the Eagles were outgained 427 yards to 248 and ran 58 plays to New England's 86.
The punt barely made it off Ryan Allen's foot before Chris Maragos smothered it. Maragos found a crack just to the left of the center. Najee Goode, coming in from the end, scooped up the ball and ran it in 24 yards, just eight seconds remaining in the first half when Goode finished his jaunt.
"(Bryan) Braman got off the ball really fast and got the attention of the guard," Maragos said. "Ed (Reynolds) stayed real wide for me, really just allowed me to get through the hole . . . I got through the hole pretty clean. I dipped my shoulder (and got past the protector) . . . a lot of mental visualization of me taking the ball off his foot all week."
Maragos said he was chasing the ball when he saw Goode scoop it. "I knew it was close to the half, and we were going to try and score it, so we could get six points," Maragos said.
"Nothing we hadn't seen before, we just didn't execute it well," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
"They were the best in the league last year," Pats special teamer Matthew Slater noted. "They've got a lot of good (special teams) players. I can name off every guy on that unit, and he's above average for his position. Maragos does a good job of leading that group. Bryan (Braman) makes a lot of plays, and obviously Darren (Sproles) - he's been doing it since he was in San Diego . . . They made us pay tonight."
Maragos had the initial block on Sproles' return.
"I call it a 'hip-by' - I just kind of brushed by him," Maragos said. "I knew that was all I really needed to do to get Sproles free. There's a lot of different layers (of blocking), and Sproles, he can zigzag in and out. The guy is special. He really makes us all really look good."
Goode had the touchdown ball tucked high and tight as he prepared to leave the locker room.
"I was worrying about covering the outside edge for a fake," Goode said. "Maragos, Trey (Burton) and Braman rushed up the middle . . . I just saw Maragos lay out like he was Superman, and put his hands up and just take it off the punter's foot. The ball rolled around and I was able to scoop it up . . . He blocked the (bleep) out of it."
This was the Eagles' first victory at New England since 1987 and the Patriots' first home loss in a meaningful game (they lost the last game of last season, with homefield sewed up for the playoffs) in three years . . . The Eagles are 7-1 in their last eight games against AFC teams, so when they get to the Super Bowl, watch out. (Or, maybe, might there actually be hope this coming week against the Bills?) . . . The Pats' attack definitely missed Rob Gronkowski (knee) and Julian Edelman (foot) . . . The Eagles activated wideout Jonathan Krause for the first time, in place of Miles Austin. Krause caught one pass for 4 yards (so the move was a success) . . . Connor Barwin had two sacks and two hurries, and Brandon Graham had the other two Eagles sacks, along with three hurries . . . The Eagles took seven penalties for 92 yards in the first half, then just one for 5 yards in the second half . . . Both Sam Bradford touchdown passes came on third down, and he was patient and accurate on both. Bradford also shook off pressure to convert a third-and-11 with a 14-yard strike to Riley Cooper, avoiding a punt on a play that began with 2:49 remaining in the game.