PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Tom Brady(notes) saw running lanes, tucked the ball and took off scrambling.
That’s no misprint.
Brady threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns and the New England Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-20 Sunday in a rematch of the 2005 Super Bowl.
Picking apart defenses is nothing new for Brady. But the most impressive number on the stat sheet was his rushing total. On a field where Michael Vick(notes) is usually the one making dazzling plays with his legs, Brady ran for 28 yards. It was his second-highest total. Brady had 31 yards on the ground against Jacksonville in Dec. 2006, two years before knee surgery left him even slower than he was.
“Yeah that’s a rarity,” Brady said. “There’s just a few times where I felt it opened up in the middle and I just took off. I’m not moving very fast, they’re converging pretty quickly, so I just got down there as fast as I could.”
Filling in for the injured Vick for the second straight game, Vince Young(notes) couldn’t keep Philadelphia’s fading playoff hopes alive despite passing for a career-best 400 yards.
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(notes) had 125 yards receiving and Wes Welker(notes) caught eight passes for 115 yards and two TDs. Brady’s favorite targets, tight ends Rob Gronkowski(notes) and Aaron Hernandez(notes), also chipped in.
Gronkowski caught his 11th TD pass and Hernandez had six receptions. BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes) scored twice on the ground.
“I thought it was more balanced today,” Brady said. “That’s how it needs to be, you got to run it. You got to throw it to everybody and you got to keep them off balance, you got to screen, you got to draw, you got to trap, you got to downhill run, you need quick hitters, you need all levels of the passing game. When they’re able to take a few of those away, obviously it makes it more difficult to execute, but I thought today we did a good job of really maximizing all of the guys out there who are playing offense.”
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.”
After a fast start, the Eagles fizzled.
Brady engineered a 70-yard drive capped by Green-Ellis’ 4-yard TD run to cut it to 10-7.
One play after Tiquan Underwood(notes) dropped a wide-open pass, Brady connected with Branch for 63 yards to the Eagles 1 on a third-and-13. Green-Ellis scored on the next play to put the Patriots up 14-10.
Welker blew past the secondary and Brady hit his wide-open target in stride for a 41-yard TD pass to give New England a 21-10 lead in the second quarter.
DeSean Jackson(notes) dropped what could’ve been a 4-yard TD 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 TD in the third quarter, and was benched in the fourth quarter.
“I know I am a better receiver, there are no excuses behind that, but I just didn’t have my best game today,” Jackson said. “It’s frustrating, but I have to figure it out.”
Notes: Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco(notes) sat out with a hamstring injury. … LeSean McCoy(notes) has 11 TDs 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.