By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Well, at least things won’t be boring in New England during the final month of the NFL season.

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We’ve all been guilty, to various extents, of looking beyond the final five games of the Patriots’ schedule, of discussing the returns of Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman solely in the context of the postseason, and of believing that at the very worst, the Patriots would end the season 13-3, but more likely 14-2 or even 15-1.

Yet after an Eagles team which was coming off three straight losses against teams that were a combined 11-16 but beat Philly by a combined score of 110-50, we have all been reminded that there is no game remaining on New England’s schedule which can be assumed to be a guaranteed victory.

The Patriots were the best team in the league. Over the past 15 years, they have been historically dominant at home, and they have been historically dominant in the month of December. And yet … they got their butts handed to them for the majority of the afternoon on Sunday.

The specific plays and decisions that led to the final result were many, but watching the game, it felt like the Eagles treated the game like their Super Bowl, while the Patriots treated it like a spring minicamp practice. The emotional mismatch is something that can help explain how an inferior team can waltz into Gillette Stadium and stomp the home team.

There’s much to go over, so without further ado, here are the leftover thoughts from the Eagles’ shocking 35-28 win over the Patriots.

–The biggest issue I have with how the Patriots played was that for the second straight week, they pussyfooted the end of the first half. And this time, it really came back to bite them.

They got the ball at their own 13-yard line with 1:32 left in the first half and two timeouts in their pocket. I understand they don’t have their regular personnel, and so as a result, running a hurry-up offense is more difficult. The playbook’s a bit smaller without Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, so the no-huddle cannot operate on the same level as it does when the Patriots look like “THE PATRIOTS.” So they decided to run the ball and, presumably, drain the clock so that they could take a 14-7 lead into halftime. Fine.

Yet after Brandon Bolden broke a 14-yard run on second down (a play which came after a long huddle with the clock running, mind you), the Patriots called timeout with 50 seconds left. Apparently, they were going to go for a score, despite needing 30-plus yards to get into field-goal range. Alas, the insatiable quest for the dreaded double-score lured them in.

Brady dropped back to pass on the next play, and sacked himself for a loss of three yards. Whoops.

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

The clock stopped due to Bryan Stork absolutely obliterating Fletcher Cox, leaving the D lineman shaken up, but on the next play Brady handed it to James White for an inside handoff and a meager gain. Clearly, again, the plan was to settle for nothing and take it to halftime. And the Eagles were clearly not going to use a timeout, given that they were in a pretty decent position, down seven on the road in a tough building. That’s not even speculation; it is fact. The Patriots had more time on the play clock than the game clock and Philly wasn’t calling timeout:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

Yet they decided to hurry a snap so that Brady could throw a pass in the general vicinity of Scott Chandler and Keshawn Martin. Incomplete.

The Patriots’ punt team came out, as did the Eagles’ punt block unit, and Philly stole seven points before halftime.

This end-of-half thing is just poor execution. Either go for it or don’t. Indecision and lack of commitment one way or the other can catch up to you, and it did in a big way on Sunday.

–Obviously, the Patriots didn’t really deserve to win the game, but they still managed to have a chance at the end. And so I think it was quite fitting, given the depleted state of the receiving corps, that the game ended thusly:

First down: Spike.

Second down: Brandon LaFell drop.

(Screen shots from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shots from NFL.com/GamePass)

Third down: Danny Amendola drop. (Hello, Wes Welker in Super Bowl XLVI clone.)

(Screen shots from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shots from NFL.com/GamePass)

Fourth down: Keshawn Martin drop (albeit a more difficult grab, thanks to a strong effort from from Eric Rowe to jar the ball loose).

(Screen shots from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shots from NFL.com/GamePass)

Three balls, all catchable, all dropped, game over. Given the state of the Patriots’ receiving corps, it just seemed an appropriate way for that one to end.

–All I ever want from my sports is to be entertained. And by that measure, I got money’s worth (zero dollars) from this one. It’s rare that I end up laughing out loud and stating in plain terms what happened on the field (i.e., “He fumbled!”), but this game really turned into a captivating experience in the fourth quarter.

So it struck me as hilarious to see Bill Belichick’s reaction after his team recovered an onside kick to stay alive with 5:25 left to play:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

It was a face that uttered in a monotone droning, “We have the ball back now,” while simultaneously calculating 13 million scenarios that could play out in the coming minutes.

–Putting aside the obvious appreciation of Bill Belichick’s body of work over the past 15 years, golly did I think that drop kick was dumb. It was just dumb, and unnecessary, and not worth the risk. Yes, by calling the pooch kick and giving the Eagles the ball at their own 41-yard line, the Patriots technically might have only given up 21 more yards than if they had kicked deep through the end zone. But given that aforementioned gap in emotion, and understanding that no sports thrives more on emotion, you simply cannot sway that there was no lasting impact from that play.

To be clear, the Eagles didn’t win because of a Nate Ebner rugby kick, and the Patriots didn’t lose because of it. But players on both sidelines had to have felt it was a “WTF” moment, for different reasons. The Eagles took it as a slap in the face, and the Patriots probably wondered why they’d pull that kind of stunt while leading 14-0 at home against a bad team.

I thought it was unnecessary when it worked against Washington, and I thought it even more unnecessary this time around, especially considering how good the defense looked early.

There might be a reason why a team hasn’t elected to go with the drop kick in the past 250 years.

–The Patriots’ coaching staff also made a pretty significant mistake early in the fourth quarter when Malcolm Butler got called for pass interference on a third-and-3. Jamie Collins adamantly argued with the officials that he had tipped the Sam Bradford pass, which would have negated the PI penalty. And upon seeing the replay, it was clear that Bradford’s pass went from a tight spiral to a wobbly duck after passing through Collins’ hands.

Here’s an (albeit grainy) look at how the football ended up:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

As you can see, the nose of the football is pointed upward. You kind of have to take my word for it that the ball wobbled. Collins tipped the pass. I don’t fault the officials for missing such a hard-to-see play, but replay would have proven that Collins tipped the pass, and it would have been fourth-and-3.

Instead, the Philadelphia drive continued, and the Eagles were in the end zone five plays later with a 35-14 lead. Even worse, the Patriots ended up burning a timeout anyway on the play before the Philly touchdown.

After the game, Belichick was asked if he put any thought into challenging the play.

His full answer: “No.”

Well. All right then.

–A lot was made last week about Pete Morelli’s officiating crew, which stunk so badly last week that they got pulled off the Sunday night game. Two things on that:

1. I thought the officiating, for the most part, was fine. You’d have to really try hard to complain too badly. (They did seem to struggle to notice false starts.) The only thing I really noticed was that Pete Morelli just seemed kind of sad, like he didn’t want to be there. WAY TO GO, AMERICA, you have broken Pete Morelli. Hope you’re happy with yourselves.

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2. If the NFL wanted to put ol’ Petey on a meaningless game, it turns out that Sunday night game would have been more appropriate.

–Tom Brady threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, ran for 17 yards and one touchdown, and caught one pass for 36 yards. He is the entire Patriots offense. He threw an interception when trying to fit a pass into an impossibly small window on the goal line, and he threw another one on a deep heave where Brandon LaFell didn’t do what Brady expected him to do, but that’s what’s going to happen when the entire offense rests on the quarterback’s shoulders. The fact that Brady had to do some receiving — and finished the game with more receiving yards than LaFell — gives you an idea of how dire the situation really is.

–That being established, Brady is not going to even make it to January if he keeps getting hit the way he has in recent weeks.

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06: Connor Barwin #98 of the Connor Barwin sacks Tom Brady. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Connor Barwin sacks Tom Brady. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Brady hasn’t been perfect these last few weeks, but that is to be expected when you lose Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski in rapid fashion. The offense changes and as less experienced players fill in, it becomes more difficult to manage. It’s like he lost three wheels on his Maserati and they’ve been replaced by a worn-out Goodyear, a monster truck tire, and a tricycle wheel. Sometimes, it’s a wonder he ever gets to his destination, which in this scenario would be the end zone.

When LaFell is cutting routes short (which he did twice) or dropping passes, and when Keshawn Martin (not good enough to make the Texans, joined Patriots midseason) is on the field for almost every offensive snap, and when Brady doesn’t have Edelman to get open at will (literally), then it’s simply going to be tough sledding.

The good news for the Patriots is that the defense is good enough to shoulder the load for the final four games. If the special teams can just wake up (and maybe remove the drop kick from the playbook), they should still be all right. But they’re going to have protect their quarterback better than they have in recent weeks, or the season goes kaput in a heartbeat.

–This happened.

–I’ve found it very obvious that while sports debates aren’t often easily settled, it’s been clear enough that Aaron Rodgers is the most athletically gifted quarterback in the league right now. He’s got a cannon, and he moves around like a bunny rabbit in the pocket, and he’s got wheels. Really no debate there.

And while there’s still no debate, I have to say, every now and then Tom Brady pulls out something that makes you reevaluate. No, it wasn’t that brutal scamper on third-and-17 that came up well short of the sticks. It was instead a third-and-12 pass in the third quarter when Brady didn’t have his feet underneath him …

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

… but managed to zip a ball to Amendola, who made a ridiculous catch and extra effort to move the chains.

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

It’s Tom Brady, so you can’t really say that any part of his game is underrated. But that arm strength, even at 38 years old, is legit.

–As depleted as the receving corps may be, I still expected the Patriots to score a bit more than that, especially when you look at how poorly the Philly defense played on Brady’s first two touchdown passes:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

–Instead of seeing the first and only drop kick (on a kickoff) in all of our lives, the TV audience was treated to this lovely visual:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

It was truly an exhilarating moment.

–Chip Kelly perpetually looks like a good guy on “24” who’s under interrogation when someone threatens to kill him and his whole family if he doesn’t give up the passwords.

Chip Kelly (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Chip Kelly (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

But Chip ain’t giving up those codes!

–It was dark out for pretty much the entire game, FYI.

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

–The entire offense is Tom Brady, as previously stated, but Danny Amendola’s really done a swell job of stepping up. Yet that catch/fumble that was ruled a drop was a bad one, and perhaps the increased workload is starting to drain him a bit.

Tangent: If a receiver catches a pass and then, in the act of tucking the ball away to run, loses control of the ball, how is that not a catch? How can you try to tuck the ball under your arm if you never caught it? You can’t. That’s a catch.

At the time it looked like the Patriots dodged a bullet when that wasn’t ruled a turnover, but Brady’s 99-yard pick-six a few moments later was a decidedly worse outcome for that drive.

–Belichick’s reaction to the pick-six:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

–There’s not much to say about Tom Brady’s 36-yard reception, other than it was pretty sweet. It will go down as the second-best reception of his career, because the one he caught in December 2001 was part of a victory and was not immediately followed up with a 60-yard interception.

–I still can’t believe that Chip Kelly, with the game essentially on the line, trusted a quarterback whose sleeves are this long:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

But give the long-sleeved QB credit: He freaking delivered. It took some guts for the Eagles to roll with a pass play on third-and-11, when a running play would have drained the clock down close to the two-minute warning. And Bradford hung in the pocket, waited patiently, stepped up and fired a strike to Riley Cooper, who came down with his only catch of the game in a rather massive moment.

Granted, Kenjon Barner kind of made all of that meaningless when he fumbled the ball in a situation where you absolutely cannot fumble the ball, but still. That was an impressive sequence from the Eagles.

–Speaking of that fumble … I think Jamie Collins’ muscles are OK. Yikes. I guess he put that lost weight back on, because that was a real old-man strength moment for the 26-year-old.

–When celebrations go wrong:

Malcolm Jenkins celebrates with defensive backs coach Cory Undlin. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Malcolm Jenkins celebrates with defensive backs coach Cory Undlin. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

–One more stroke of positivity, in the form of an unsung effort: How about James White hanging in there to move the chains on a third-and-10 when he was getting clobbered over the middle on the final drive?

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GamePass)

That probably hurt. But he hung on. (His teammates then dropped the next three passes.)

–If the roles had been reversed and the Eagles had played the way the Patriots played, we’d all be saying that it was more evidence that the Eagles have quit on their head coach. So … what do we say about the Patriots?

They obviously haven’t quit on Bill Belichick, so maybe we ought to be more careful with our assessments from afar of teams that look as terrible as the Eagles can look. But it’s probably what left us all so perplexed after the final whistle. Did that team with that coach and that quarterback in that stadium really just whooped by … THAT team and THAT coach?

It is, of course, simply the 9 millionth reminder in the 2015 calendar year that sports are sports, and therefore even though we think we know what will come next, we never do. And so, we keep watching.

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Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here. You can email him or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.