The best formula for success against the New England Patriots is to keep Tom Brady on the sideline and harass him when he’s on the field.
That’s not a news flash. But the good news for Eagles fans and everyone rooting against Brady [url=http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-stefon-diggs-jersey]Stefon Diggs Jersey Big[/url] , Bill Belichick and the Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl is that Philadelphia has the ingredients to do it.
The Eagles (15-3) have a multidimensional, ball-control offense capable of chewing the clock and forcing No. 12 to be a spectator.
Jay Ajayi, former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement led the NFL’s third-best rushing offense and the Eagles were first in time of possession.
”You have to stay patient and diligent there,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. ”That’s something we’ve been able to do all season long. It’s something we stay committed to.”
This isn’t an old-school, ground-and-pound offense, either.
The Eagles have a versatile passing attack with several receivers who create matchup problems. Carson Wentz threw for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdown passes before he tore his ACL in Week 14 and Nick Foles has eight TD passes, including playoffs.
Foles proved in the NFC championship game he can make quick-strike plays with three passes of 40-plus yards against the league’s top-ranked defense. Two of those were TD tosses of 53 yards to Alshon Jeffery and 41 yards to Torrey Smith.
Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz and slot receiver Nelson Agholor are other options. Tight end Trey Burton, who also lines up at fullback in certain short-yardage situations, had five TD catches this season.
”You can’t just stop one guy,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. ”You can’t go out there and say, `if we just limit Jeffery or if we just limit Ertz that won’t matter.’ They have a lot of different guys out there that can beat you.”
Foles has been adept at making the right calls on run-pass option plays [url=http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com/cam-newton-jersey-authentic]Youth Cam Newton Jersey[/url] , making it even more difficult for defenses facing Philadelphia.
”It’s hard because you have to defend every inch of the field,” McCourty said. ”Each guy has to do their job on the play. We can’t have guys doing things that don’t fit the defense.”
On the opposite side of the ball, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has an aggressive unit. Nobody runs on Philadelphia’s defense. It was No. 1 against the run and didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher until Ezekiel Elliott had 103 in Week 17 against backups and third-stringers.
The Patriots (15-3) rely mainly on Brady’s arm, even though Dion Lewis had 896 yards rushing and James White was a Super Bowl hero last year. But Brady can’t throw if he doesn’t have time and the Eagles have a dominant front four led by Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham.
The line often generates enough pressure that Schwartz doesn’t have to blitz much and there’s enough depth with Chris Long, Vinny Curry, Tim Jernigan and Beau Allen that guys stay fresh in the fourth quarter.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins is a physical presence in the secondary and cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are solid cover guys.
”They have a great defense,” Brady said. ”It’s as good any we’ve faced all year. They have a great scheme that mixes in well with their coverages.”
If the game comes down to a field goal, rookie kicker Jake Elliott has a strong leg. He kicked a 61-yarder at the end of regulation to beat the Giants in Week 3 and is 6 of 7 from beyond 50 yards.
The Eagles shouldn’t be tight and they’re not intimidated by the Patriots. They’re a loose, relaxed group that has embraced their underdog role throughout the playoffs and overcame injuries to several key players.
”Greatest quarterback of all time, but that doesn’t mean that he’s unbeatable,” Jenkins said of Brady. ”We’re not worried. We match up well.”
AP NFL website: Artemi Panarin turned out to be everything the Columbus Blue Jackets were looking for when they traded for him last summer: A dead-eye sniper and deft puck distributor who can get game-breaking goals and make everyone around him better.
And, the Blue Jackets hope [url=http://www.sandiegochargersteamonline.com/philip-rivers-jersey]Womens Philip Rivers Jersey[/url] , a guy who can get them deeper into the playoffs.
So far, so good. Columbus heads home to Nationwide Arena after taking a 2-0 lead over Washington in their first-round series on Sunday night, a come-from-behind 5-4 overtime win in which Panarin contributed a pair of key assists.
That came three nights after Panarin won the series opener in overtime. With two assists already in regulation, he drove down the left side, slipped past Capitals defenseman Dimitry Orlov and snapped a shot over goalie Philipp Grubauer’s shoulder.
”There’s very few people who can make that shot,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said.
”He can make a play from nothing,” Orlov said. ”He’s so smooth.”
The Blue Jackets probably wouldn’t be playing in the postseason without the 26-year-old Russian they call the ”Bread Man.” He was a steady presence and consistent scorer through a bumpy season of slumps and injuries to other key players.
Panarin led Columbus with 27 goals and 55 assists, and his 82 points were the most in a single season in franchise history. His plus/minus of 23 and average of just over 20 minutes on the ice per game were career highs.
Panarin – sounds like Panera Bread, hence the hockey nickname of ”Bread Man” or just ”Bread” – has embraced being a featured star after playing in the large shadow of Patrick Kane in Chicago in his first two years in the league.
”In Chicago, I played with Kane and got a lot of assists from him,” Panarin said. ”But I always wanted something more, to put more of the game on myself and be more accountable for the result. Here [url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/juju-smith-schuster-jersey-authentic]Womens JuJu Smith-Schuster Jersey[/url] , I got that, what I wanted.”
Panarin, who won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL in 2015-16, was acquired from the Black Hawks last June along with forward Tyler Motte for forward Brandon Saad and goalie Anton Forsberg. Saad was a reliable player for Columbus for two seasons.
”Bread is a different type player because he can make a special play to win a game,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. ”I just think for you to get through and find your way and try to be a better playoff team, you have to have some players that are dynamic. You’re not coaching it, they just see something, they seize a moment and they win you a game. Or they make a huge play to get you back in the game in another way.”
With the Blue Jackets on a power play and down 3-2 in the second period on Sunday, Panarin dribbled the puck and patiently waited for a lane to open up before delivering a pinpoint circle-to-circle pass to Cam Atkinson , who scored the tying goal.
Panarin’s line mates, veteran winger Atkinson and 19-year-old rookie center Pierre-Luc Dubois, have benefited from his skills. Atkinson – who had two goals on Sunday – has come on strong after missing time with injuries [url=http://www.titansauthorizedshops.com/authentic-derrick-henry-jersey]Derrick Henry Jersey Big[/url] , finishing the regular season with 14 goals and 14 assists in February and March. Dubois had 20 goals and 28 assists in the regular season, making him the most productive rookie in Blue Jackets history.
Panarin makes $6 million a year on a contract that runs through next season. He’ll be due a sizeable salary bump if the Blue Jackets decide to keep him around after that.
So far, he’s been an ideal fit.
”When they first traded me, of course for a couple days, I worried,” he said. ”But then I calmed down and understood that this is all good for me. I understood that here I would progress as a player first and foremost. What’s most important to me isn’t money, but the whole game.”
Associated Press Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno in Washington contributed to this report.
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