Remembering a forgotten Eagles’ season classic

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 21: New Orleans Saints Safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) looks on before the game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles on November 21, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Last week’s list of Top 10 regular season Eagles games since 2000 included wins in 2017 that kickstarted the Super Bowl run and classics of the Andy Reid era. With so many great games to choose from, a forgotten classic didn’t make the cut because of its lack of prominence in a memorable context.

The 2015 season didn’t produce the greatest sense of pride within the Philadelphia fan base, but one victory against the New England Patriots represents an appropriate microcosm of the sense of hope the Eagles can give to an entire city that lives and dies with their success.

2015 Eagles

The lauding of Chip Kelly’s supposedly revolutionary offense halted quickly in 2015. A rough season exposed the third-year head coach for his egotistical approach and lack of leadership qualities.

Things turned ugly in November. The Eagles began a three-game losing streak with brutal losses against the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The embarrassment reached its pinnacle when the 3-7 Detroit Lions manhandled the Birds in a 45-14 blowout for the world to see on Thanksgiving day.

Ugly losses and instability at the head coaching position send NFL teams south down the stretch of every NFL season. A (too commonly) weak NFC East did, however, keep the Eagles alive in the playoff hunt. 

A lifeless 4-7 team made the trip to Foxborough on Dec. 6 to face the 10-1 defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, and things predictably didn’t start well. Tom Brady didn’t seem to mind having Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman on the sidelines with injuries. He played an effortless game of pitch and catch with Danny Amendola instead. The Eagles trailed the Patriots 14-0 midway through the second quarter.

Hope Rises from the Ashes in Eagles Comeback

A dark Sunday evening in December felt hopeless 300 miles south in Philadelphia. The most passionate fans in the NFL had nothing to be proud of. High expectations for the 2015 season had fallen flat because of an unlikeable head coach sinking in quicksand, and the Eagles hadn’t won a playoff game in nearly seven years.

The most unanticipated comeback in franchise history flipped the hopelessness for Philadelphians who thought their weekend would end on a sour note. During a season to forget, the Eagles came away with a win to remember.

Bill Belichick foolishly opted to try a drop kick that set up the Eagles in good field position after New England’s second touchdown. Sam Bradford cut the lead in half with a touchdown drive. 

Najee Goode then scored on a blocked punt return. Malcolm Jenkins picked off Brady and scored on a 99-yard return. Darren Sproles scored on an 83-yard punt return. The Eagles reeled off five straight touchdowns to stun the New England crowd with a 35-14 advantage. They held off the Patriots for a 35-28 win and spoiled Brady’s perfect career record against them.

Eagles Fans Need Hope

The improbable victory against the heavily-favored Patriots didn’t go down in history as the turning point of the 2015 season. The barrage of non-offensive touchdowns wasn’t sustainable, and the Eagles didn’t qualify for the postseason.

Kelly was deservedly fired after it became clear that he didn’t have the temperament to handle the power given to him by Jeffrey Lurie. Brady even came close to spoiling that game in itself with a late comeback attempt.

Even if the feeling didn’t last forever, the stunning comeback in New England allowed Eagles fans to feel good about their team for one moment in time. They were reminded of the reason that generations of Philadelphians have poured their hearts and souls into support of a team they don’t play for every Sunday during the fall.

It became easier to get out of bed on a cold Monday morning the day after the Eagles beat the Patriots.