PHILADELPHIA -- Rapid reaction from the Patriots’ 38-20 win over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field:
What it means: The blowout win improves the Patriots to 8-3 and has them keeping pace atop the AFC standings with Baltimore and Houston. This is important when it comes to competing for a potential No. 1 playoff seed. The rest of the Patriots’ season looks like this -- vs. Indianapolis; at Washington; at Denver; vs. Miami; vs. Buffalo. They are positioned to finish 13-3 and are playing solid football at the right time.
Mental toughness shines through: This was a tough spot for the Patriots, hitting the road to face a talented, desperate 4-6 team that couldn’t afford another loss if it hoped to make the playoffs. The Eagles were coming off a solid win over the Giants and jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead, and that’s the type of situation that can sink teams on the road. But not the Patriots. If we’ve learned anything about them this season, it’s that they’re mentally tough; if you’re going to knock them out, they’re going to make you earn it. This is a solid team that deserves a tip of the cap as it plays without some of its best talent because of injuries. One key in the win over the Eagles was dominating defensively on third down.
Tom Terrific once again: Quarterback Tom Brady was surgical (24-of-34 for 361 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs). He eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark for the seventh time this year, and the 41st time of his career. The Eagles struggled to generate pressure, giving Brady time to pick the Eagles’ defense apart. He made it look easy. Backup Brian Hoyer entered the game with 6:54 remaining, replacing Brady for the first time this year. Brady's favorite targets were receivers Wes Welker (8 catches, 115 yards, 2 TDs) and Deion Branch (6 catches, 125 yards). The Patriots trailed 10-7 after the first quarter before pulling away, an impressive hurry-up attack at the start of the third quarter driving the final nail in the Eagles' coffin.
Vollmer an injury to monitor: On the injury front, the top situation to monitor for the Patriots is with starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. He had his foot looked at by medical personnel at the end of the second quarter and never returned. The other player to leave the game and not return was cornerback Antwaun Molden, and that came in the fourth quarter.
Following up on the Ochocinco story: One of the storylines to follow coming into the game was who would fill Chad Ochocinco’s role as the third receiver, and those looking forward to seeing 2010 third-round pick Taylor Price left disappointed. He didn’t play a snap. Tiquan Underwood, signed this week, played over Price, as did Julian Edelman. Not a good sign for Price.
Fans in Philly fired up: It’s long been said that Philadelphia is a tough sports town and the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field expressed its displeasure by starting a chant that urged the firing of coach Andy Reid. As ESPN.com national football columnist Ashley Fox noted on Twitter, “I've heard a lot of things at the Linc over the years. A ‘Fire Andy’ chant is not one of them.”
What’s next: The Patriots return home to host the winless Colts in a game that was supposed to be a prime-time affair, but was flexed back to 1 p.m. ET. The Eagles travel to Seattle.