Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will be looking to make big plays against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. — Brad Penner/AP Images for Panini

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will be looking to make big plays against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. — Brad Penner/AP Images for Panini

Feb. 4, 2018 still haunts New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The man, whom many refer to as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) can still remember going 28 of 48 for 505 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-33 loss. In fact he admitted as much during his weekly radio show on WEEI in Boston.

“That’s a lot of mental scar tissue from that year,” Brady said. “That was a tough game. In a lot of ways, we learned from that year and we came back stronger the next year.”

Yes they did. The Patriots won Super Bowl LII. Now comes a regular season meeting Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field between the 8-1 Patriots and the 5-4 Eagles. A meeting between the past two Super Bowl titlists.

A lot has changed since they met for the right to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Minneapolis, Minnesota that frigid February day.

For starters, quarterback Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to the franchise’s first championship since 1960, is now in Jacksonville. Foles, who completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, was named MVP. And who can forget his snaring a one-yard touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton on a gimmick play called The Philly Special?

Both teams have are coming off bye weeks. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has had a lot of time to dissect Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. With 300 victories, Belichick, trails the late George Halas (324) and the legendary Don Shula (347) for most win in National Football League history. Belichick hasn’t made a big deal about the rematch, but being the competitor that he is, nothing would feel better than to embarrass the Eagles in front of their home crowd.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who isn’t afraid to match wits with anyone, knows that his injury-riddled team will be tested early and often.

Is it the Super Bowl? Of course not, but it may be the biggest test to see whether the Eagles belong in the championship hunt talk currently ongoing in many barber shops and watering holes.

Eagles fans forget about the win over the Green Bay Packers and the beatdown by the Dallas Cowboys. The only thing that matters is beating the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. A victory sends a statement that won’t soon be ignored.

It’s a test the Eagles can’t afford to fail.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. View more opinions on phillytrib.com.

dbell@phillytrib.com (215) 893-5746

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