FOXBOROUGH, MASS. – Eight days ago, the New England Patriots were thinking about an unbeaten season.
Now the defending Super Bowl champions are trying to recover from their first back-to-back losses in more than three years.
Najee Goode scored on a blocked punt, Malcolm Jenkins returned an interception 99 yards for another touchdown and Darren Sproles took a punt return 83 yards for a TD on Sunday before the Philadelphia Eagles held on for an improbable 35-28 victory over the Patriots.
After giving up 45 points in back-to-back games, the response from the Eagles defense and special teams was just what coach Chip Kelly needed to snap a three-game losing streak and propel Philadelphia (5-7) back into the NFC East race.
"It takes those things to win in this stadium," Kelly said, "against that coach and that quarterback."
The Patriots took a 14-0 lead before Philadelphia scored five consecutive touchdowns. Then New England (10-2) came back, taking advantage of an onside kick and a fumble to have a chance to tie the score in the final minute.
That's when Patriots receivers dropped three passes in a row to turn the ball over on downs.
"Sort of had a chance there at the end. A comeback," coach Bill Belichick said unenthusiastically. "But when you give up 21 points when your defense isn't on the field, you're going to lose 98 percent of those games."
The Eagles moved into a tie for second in the division with the New York Giants, only a half-game behind Washington, which plays Dallas on Monday night.
The Patriots hold a three-game lead over the New York Jets in the AFC East. But what two weeks ago was a comfortable cushion for an undefeated team has shrunk and could, at the very least, cost New England a chance to rest its injured players for the postseason, as Belichick likes to do.
Sproles had 66 yards rushing, 34 receiving and 115 more on punt returns — including an 83-yard touchdown that made it 28-14 with 4:18 left in the third quarter. After missing the previous two games because of a concussion and left shoulder injury, Sam Bradford completed 14 of 24 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.