2023 Week 1

Eagles coach credits Pats defense for success in this area

The Patriots defense impressed against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles on Sunday.

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Despite taking the loss, the New England Patriots have plenty of positives to take away from Sunday's season opener vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. The defense's performance is chief among them.

The unit allowed only one touchdown -- a five-yard DeVonta Smith reception in the first quarter -- in the 25-20 defeat. Otherwise, all of the Eagles' points came from field goals and Mac Jones' first-quarter pick-six.

Eagles dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts finished with only 170 yards through the air and 37 on the ground. His longest completion of the day was a 23-yarder to A.J. Brown, Philadelphia's only play over 20 yards.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni praised the Pats defense's ability to prevent big plays and keep the game close.

"They tried to stay in front of everything, and they did a good job of doing so, whether that was by changing the coverages or just by playing soft zones and getting underneath our receivers' routes and forcing us to check the ball down underneath," Sirianni said during his Monday press conference.

"We've been a team that's been high in the NFL in explosive plays the last two years and hats off to them that they limited us by our count to I think three or four. Which again, you've got to try to create ways -- I think that's where a little bit of the sputter was on offense is we weren't able to create big plays, whether that's the position we put them in as coaches or whether that's the execution or whether that's what the defense did, and I think it was a little bit of all three. 

"We know how important it is to create explosives. Credit to the New England Patriots by taking those away last night."

Making the performance even more impressive is it came without starting cornerback Jack Jones, who was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. The secondary was led by Jonathan Jones and rookie first-rounder Christian Gonzalez.

Another tough test awaits the Patriots defense in Week 2. Limiting big plays will once again be a challenge against the Miami Dolphins, who have two of the NFL's most explosive wide receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. They combined for 298 receiving yards and two touchdowns in their 36-34 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

Patriots-Dolphins is scheduled for an 8:20 p.m. ET kickoff next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

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