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Game Recap: Patriots 38, Eagles 20
PHILADELPHIA -- The way Tom Brady was getting everyone involved, it's a surprise no linemen or linebackers caught passes.
Brady threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns and the New England Patriots beat the Eagles 38-20 Sunday in a rematch of the 2005 Super Bowl.
Filling in for the injured Michael Vick for the second straight game, Vince Young couldn't keep Philadelphia's fading playoff hopes alive despite throwing for a career-best 400 yards passing.
The AFC East-leading Patriots (8-3) stayed in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the conference behind a surgical-like effort from Brady.
The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback finished 24 of 34, Deion Branch had 125 yards receiving and Wes Welker caught eight passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Brady's favorite targets, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, also chipped in.
Gronkowski caught his 11th touchdown pass and Hernandez had six receptions. BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored twice on the ground.
"It was more balanced today," Brady said. "That's how it needs to be. You have to run it. You have to throw it to everybody. We did a good job maximizing all the guys."
The Eagles (4-7) are all-but-mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in a season that began with Super Bowl expectations.
Angry fans made their feelings known about coach Andy Reid, chanting "Fire Andy!" in the second half.
"The way we played, I can understand," Reid said.
The defending NFC East champions fell to 1-5 at home and have lost eight of nine at the Linc, including a playoff loss to Green Bay last January.
Down 10-0 early, the Patriots rallied behind Brady. New England scored on five of its next six possessions, excluding a kneel-down at the end of the first half.
"Overall we did a great job of staying composed on the sideline and making the right adjustments and doing pretty much what we game planned for," Branch said.
Brady and coach Bill Belichick improved to 4-0 against Reid's Eagles, including a 24-21 win for their third NFL title in four years after the 2004 season.
"Tom did a good job really pressing the issue," Belichick said. "He felt he had them on the run with some of the mismatches. Tom kept pressing it, guys got open and Tom did what he does best, finding the open guys."
Young led the Eagles to a 17-10 win against the New York Giants last week in his first start in nearly a year. He put up decent numbers against the worst-ranked defense in the league, but couldn't overcome another inept performance by the Eagles' defense.
Young finished 26 of 48. It was just his third career game over 300 yards.
"Andy's a tremendous guy," Young said, defending Reid. "I have the utmost respect for him. Fans don't understand some of the situations that goes on during the game. You can't put it all on Andy. We're going to always continue to keep fighting hard, playing hard for him."
Michael Vick broke two lower ribs in a loss to Arizona on Nov. 13. He got hurt on the second play of that game and stayed in, but hasn't practiced the past two weeks. It's uncertain whether Vick can play when Philadelphia visits Seattle on Thursday night.
After a fast start, the Eagles fizzled.
Brady engineered a 70-yard drive capped by Green-Ellis' 4-yard touchdown run to cut it to 10-7. The Pats converted two third downs on the drive, including two by penalty.
Helped by a missed call, New England's defense then forced a three-and-out. Young was sacked by Rob Ninkovich, who spun the quarterback down by pulling his facemask. But the referees didn't see it, eliciting loud boos from the crowd when the replay was shown on the video screen.
One play after just-signed Tiquan Underwood dropped a wide-open pass, Brady connected with Branch for 63 yards to the Eagles' one on a third-and-13. Green-Ellis scored on the next play to put the Patriots up 14-10.
Antwaun Molden intercepted Young's deep pass intended for DeSean Jackson on Philadelphia's next play and returned it 27 yards to the Eagles 34. But the Patriots couldn't convert the turnover into points. Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal wide right.
No problem for Brady and Co.
The Eagles went three-and-out again, and the Patriots went to a no-huddle when they got the ball back.
Welker blew past the secondary and Brady hit his wide-open target in stride for a 41-yard touchdown pass to give New England a 21-10 lead.
"He said if he got a certain look he could get it," Brady said. "Afterward he came to the sideline and said, `I told you! I told you!' It's nice when they work out the way you talk about."
Jackson dropped what could've been a 4-yard touchdown pass and the Eagles settled for a 22-yard field goal to get within 21-13.
It was the second time in the first half that Jackson appeared to shy away from contact and dropped a pass across the middle.
Fans let him hear it with a chorus of boos. Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowl pick, is in the final year of his rookie contract and has been unhappy that he didn't get a new deal. He dropped a deep pass that could've been a touchdown in the third quarter, and was benched in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots got the ball to start the second half and Brady led them into the end zone again, tossing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Welker for a 31-13 lead.
Brady threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski to extend it to 38-13 in the fourth quarter.
Notes: Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco sat out with a hamstring injury. ... Gostkowski's miss was his second from under 40 yards in 14 attempts. ... McCoy has 11 touchdowns rushing, five shy of breaking the single-season team record held by Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren. ... Young's last 300-yard game was against Arizona on Nov. 29, 2009. He threw for 387 yards in Tennessee's 20-17 win.