Observations after three quarters of the Eagles-Patriots game, with the Pats holding a 31-13 lead:
1. The crowd was understandably flat as the third quarter began, perhaps fearing what was coming — i.e., more butt-kicking by Tom Brady and Co. And sure enough, Brady moved the Pats right down the field on their first possession of the period, hitting Wes Welker on a slant for 12, Deion Branch on a curl for 10, Branch on a slant for 11, Aaron Hernandez on a screen for 18. The latter play saw Hernandez step through attempted tackles by Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen and Brandon Hughes before The Artist Formerly Known as Nnamdi Asomugha brought him down at the 9. Two plays later Welker caught a ball as he ran an out pattern toward the left sideline against Joselio Hanson, then reached over the pylon for the score — a play that stood up to review. That eight-play, 69-yard march made it 31-13.
2. Other than a Brady kneel-down at the end of the first half, New England has scored on five of its last six possessions. Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal on the other march.
3. Slot receiver Jason Avant, with just four catches in the previous three games, made two on the Eagles’ first possession of the half, but then had the wind knocked out of him when Kyle Arrington delivered a jarring hit. That resulted in an incompletion.
4. Pats wide receiver/punt returner Julian Edelman, pressed into service as an extra defensive back because of a spate of injuries, locked onto DeSean Jackson on a second-and-eight snap from the New England 9, then stood his ground and made a form tackle of Vince Young when the Birds quarterback elected to scramble.
5. Turned out to be a big play, since the Eagles failed to score. On fourth-and-one from the 2. Young rolled right and fired high for Brent Celek in the back of the end zone. Celek got his hands on it, but it would have been a difficult catch. And he would have come down out of bounds, even if he had caught it.
6. That led to more boos, and chants of “Fire Andy.”
7. Nor were the fans all that pleased when Jackson dropped a would-be 49-yard touchdown pass from Young. The Eagles wound up punting. On the bright side they did convert their first third down of the night in seven attempts. This, after going 6-for-6 in the game-winning 18-play drive against the Giants.
8. The “Fire Andy” chants grew louder after that punt.
9. Always-peppy TV personality Don Tollefson emceed the halftime ceremonies, which included a brief tribute to former defensive end Hugh Douglas. There were chants of “Huuugh,” or perhaps something else, considering the Eagles were looking at a 24-13 deficit at that point. Then Tolly narrated some highlights of teams in wild-card contention — which, he assured everyone, would be of interest to Eagles fans. Cue Jim Mora the Elder: Playoffs? Playoffs?