Thursday night’s preseason win over the Eagles was no consolation for New England Patriots fans still mourning the team’s Super Bowl LII loss to Philadelphia. But Patriots fans have reason to be optimistic after watching the 37-20 exhibition drubbing.
The Patriots’ first-team offense cruised up and down the field throughout the first half without much resistance. And the Patriots’ pass rush was ramped up all night with six sacks.
Here are the game’s standouts:
DE ADRIAN CLAYBORN
Clayborn was credited with one sack, but he caused two while rushing Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. He created pressure, forcing Foles to step up on a sack by defensive tackle Adam Butler. He then strip sacked Foles, ultimately knocking him out of the game with a shoulder injury. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley returned the fumble 55 yards for a touchdown.
The Patriots signed Clayborn to bring pressure, and that’s exactly what he did Thursday night.
LB JA’WHAUN BENTLEY
Clayborn deserves more credit for the touchdown than Bentley, who picked up the fumble and returned it 55 yards in completely open field for the score. But Bentley did look smooth on the runback.
He has a nose for the ball, recording five tackles. He also had a pass breakup in coverage. He’s the current favorite to start in three-linebacker sets over Elandon Roberts.
CB STEPHON GILMORE
Gilmore had a nice bounceback game after getting off to a shaky start last week against the Washington Redskins. He broke up his only target on the night.
WR CORDARRELLE PATTERSON
Patterson caught four passes for 51 yards with a touchdown. He would have had two touchdowns and twice as many yards if he didn’t barely step out of bounds on the first reception. On his second, he put a nasty move on Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones after catching the screen and waltzed into the end zone.
The night was a microcosm for Patterson’s whole summer, though. He made flashy plays but also dropped a pass, caught just four of seven targets and was flagged for a false start. The Patriots can get highlight plays out of the speedy receiver, but they might have to be patient.
QB TOM BRADY
Brady looked like himself: really good.
The Patriots quarterback completed 19-of-26 passes for 172 yards with two touchdowns in one half of action. That’ll do.
CB KEION CROSSEN
Crossen was penalized three times — twice for defensive pass interference and once for holding. He allowed five catches on nine targets for 55 yards with a pass breakup.
It was an ugly night for young defensive backs in general. Cornerback Jomal Wiltz and safety Damarius Travis allowed touchdowns, and cornerback JC Jackson allowed a 57-yard reception.
CB JASON MCCOURTY
McCourty allowed just one catch, but it was a 4-yard touchdown to Shelton Gibson. McCourty bit hard on a slant, but Gibson ran his route upfield, putting the veteran cornerback off balance.
WR ERIC DECKER
Decker dropped his only target on the night. Drops have been an issue for Decker in training camp.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images