Final, Patriots 37-20: The New England Patriots got off to a brutally slow start last Thursday in their preseason opener. They had no such issues in their second exhibition game.
The Patriots’ starting offense and defense both excelled Thursday night against the Eagles, with the former scoring the game’s first 17 points and the latter producing six early sacks and a scoop-and-score touchdown by rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.
Tom Brady looked sharp in his first game action since Super Bowl LII, completing 19 of 26 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, and running back James White paced the Patriots’ offense with 92 yards from scrimmage and one score.
New England’s preseason schedule continues next Friday night with a visit to the Carolina Panthers.
Fourth quarter, 3:04, Patriots 37-20: It’s been against second- and third-stringers, but undrafted rookie defensive end Trent Harris has consistently gotten after quarterbacks this preseason. He hassled Nate Sudfeld on multiple plays to help force another Eagles punt.
Danny Etling now is into the game for the Patriots.
Fourth quarter, 10:21, Patriots 37-20: No Danny Etling just yet. Brian Hoyer returns to the field after a quick Eagles three-and-out.
Fourth quarter, 11:25, Patriots 37-20: An 11-play, 59-yard drive featuring a heavy dose of Brandon Bolden resulted in a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Perhaps we’ll see Danny Etling take the reins for New England’s next possession?
Third quarter, 0:59, Patriots 34-20: This has been a rough night for the Patriots’ young defensive backs.
Jomal Wiltz continued to struggle on the Eagles’ latest drive, allowing a 31-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Davis. Wiltz, Keion Crossen, Damarius Travis and J.C. Jackson all have been burned in coverage tonight.
Third quarter, 3:34, Patriots 34-14: The Eagles escaped the shadow of the own goal line thanks to a dime from Nate Sudfeld to Shelton Gibson but proceeded to turn the ball over on downs.
Sudfeld is the third quarterback on Philly’s depth chart, but he’s thrown some pretty balls tonight.
Third quarter, 5:39, Patriots 34-14: Eric Decker really needs to clean up his hands if he hopes to earn a spot on this Patriots team.
After struggling with drops in practice this week, Decker had a perfect pass from Brian Hoyer shoot right through his hands. A completion there would have given the Patriots a first down on third-and-4.
Fortunately for New England, Eagles punt returner Rashard Davis came very close to pulling a Travis Benjamin, running 11 yards backward before being tackled on his own 1-yard line.
Third quarter, 6:45, Patriots 34-14: A 17-yard touchdown strike from Nate Sudfeld to Richard Rodgers gave Philly its first points of the second half.
Some notes from the drive:
— Jordan Richards had a nice pass breakup in the end zone on the play before Rodgers’ touchdown. The Patriots have broken up six passes tonight.
— Like Christian Sam on the previous drive, Jomal Wiltz got very lucky when Sudfeld and Bryce Treggs were unable to connect on a deep ball after Treggs torched him off the line. Wiltz later gave up a completion across the middle for a first down.
Third quarter, 10:21, Patriots 34-7: Cordarrelle Patterson just had Sidney Jones seeing ghosts.
Patterson is far from a complete receiver, but he is one heck of a playmaker.
Third quarter, 11:30, Patriots 27-7: Christian Sam is a lucky man.
Eagles running back Matt Jones beat Sam on a quick out to the flats and had running room down the sideline, but Nate Sudfeld’s pass bounced off Jones’ hands and caromed directly to the rookie linebacker, who hauled it in for his first NFL interception.
Third quarter, 14:07, Patriots 27-7: Quick three-and-out for the Patriots. Eric Decker’s first target in a Pats uniform fell incomplete on third down.
Third quarter, 15:00, Patriots 27-7: Brian Hoyer takes over at quarterback for the Patriots as we begin the second half.
Tom Brady’s final line: 19 of 26, 172 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions, 116.2 passer rating.
Halftime, Patriots 27-7: What a half for James White.
The running back caught six passes on six targets for 61 yards and a touchdown to go along with four carries for 31 yards. His touchdown — on which he benefited from some powerful blocking up front — capped a four-play, 54-yard scoring drive that took just 59 seconds to complete.
Nate Sudfeld drove the Eagles to the Patriots’ 1-yard line on the ensuing possession — helped along by Keion Crossen’s third penalty of the night — but couldn’t score. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley’s pass breakup in the end zone helped keep Philadelphia off the board.
Second quarter, 2:00, Patriots 20-7: The Patriots’ pass rush is on fire tonight despite the absence of Trey Flowers.
Derek Rivers and Kyle Van Noy sacked Nate Sudfeld on back-to-back plays to halt the Eagles’ latest drive — New England’s fourth and fifth sacks of the game.
Second quarter, 3:46, Patriots 20-7: We just got a preview of what we can expect to see from Cordarrelle Patterson this season.
The Patriots picked up 23 yards on a designed screen pass to Patterson, who continued running for another 20 yards but was ruled out of bounds. Those were the type of plays Patterson thrived on last season in Oakland. Get him the ball in the open field and let him run.
The drive ended in Stephen Gostkowski’s second field goal of the night.
Second quarter, 6:25, Patriots 17-7: Keion Crossen is an intriguing player with exceptional athleticism, but his instincts in coverage need some serious work.
The Patriots rookie cornerback was called for pass interference twice in a three-play span during the Eagles’ latest drive, including one particularly egregious foul on receiver DeAndre Carter. Crossen also badly mistimed an attempted pass breakup last week, resulting in a 57-yard gain.
New England stopped Philadelphia on two plays from inside the 5-yard line but couldn’t do so on the third, with Shelton Gibson beating Jason McCourty for a 5-yard touchdown.
Second quarter, 12:40, Patriots 17-0: Adrian Clayborn has been a big-time problem for the Eagles’ offensive line tonight, and his latest backfield invasion resulted in a Patriots touchdown.
On second-and-5 from the New England 39-yard line, Clayborn blew past left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai and knocked the ball from Nick Foles’ hands. Ja’Whaun Bentley scooped it up and finished the job, sprinting 54 yards untouched for the first touchdown of his young NFL career.
It was the second strip-sack return in as many games for the Patriots. Geneo Grissom took one back 53 yards last week, though he fell 1 yard shy of the end zone.
Foles was injured on the play. He’s questionable to return with a shoulder injury.
Nate Sudfeld took over behind center for the Eagles, leading them to a three-and-out on the ensuing possession.
First quarter, 0:14, Patriots 10-0: The Patriots got another three points but lost their top draft pick to what appeared to be a significant injury.
Isaiah Wynn, who entered the game at right tackle the previous series, limped off the field after suffering what the team called an ankle injury. He was evaluated in sideline medical tent before being taken to the locker room on a cart. He’s questionable to return.
The Patriots already have been without their other first-round draft pick for the last two weeks as running back Sony Michel recovers from a knee injury.
First quarter, 3:36, Patriots 7-0: We’re certainly not seeing the Super Bowl MVP version of Nick Foles tonight. He’s 1-of-7 for 8 yards through three Eagles possessions.
Adam Butler sacked Foles on third-and-10 to bring about another Philly punt, with Adrian Clayborn, who’s been active tonight, also providing pressure.
The Patriots went with a cornerback tandem of Jason McCourty and Eric Rowe for this latest drive. Probably a smart move to play both of them at once, considering New England already knows what it has in Stephon Gilmore.
First quarter, 5:39, Patriots 7-0: Tom Brady’s deep ball isn’t quite in midseason form. He was unable to connect with Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson or Chris Hogan downfield on the Patriots’ second possession, which ended in a punt.
The throw to Patterson drew a penalty after safety Malcolm Jenkins laid out Patterson and was called for unnecessary roughness.
Brady did complete one pass to Julian Edelman — the wideout’s first reception in a game since last August.
First quarter, 8:33, Patriots 7-0: Where was this defense back in February?
The Patriots opened this game by forcing back-to-back three-and-outs. Patrick Chung capped the second by sacking Nick Foles on a safety blitz.
Cornerback Jason McCourty saw his first defensive snaps in a Patriots uniform, replacing Eric Rowe. McCourty and Rowe are battling for the second starting corner spot opposite Stephon Gilmore.
First-round draft pick Isaiah Wynn checks into the game at right tackle as the Patriots’ offense returns to the field.
First quarter, 10:19, Patriots 7-0: Things could not be going much better so far for the Patriots, who marched 51 yards in seven plays to open the scoring.
Running back James White touched the ball on five of those plays — plus another that was nullified by an Eagles penalty — and Tom Brady capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan.
White could play a huge role in the Patriots’ offense this season, especially during Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension.
First quarter, 13:49, 0-0: Ideal start for the Patriots’ defense, which forced a three-and-out on Philadelphia’s first possession.
Rookies Ja’Whaun Bentley (middle linebacker) and Keion Crossen (slot cornerback) both made plays on the brief drive, with Bentley running stride for stride with running back Jay Ajayi on a deep incompletion on first down and Crossen nailing Ajayi for a 6-yard loss on second down.
Pressure from Deatrich Wise and Adrian Clayborn on third down helped force another incompletion and bring the Eagles’ punting unit out.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Patriots won the opening coin toss and chose to defer. They’ll kick off to get things started here in Foxboro.
7:07 p.m.: Based on warmups, rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley will start over Elandon Roberts at middle linebacker tonight. Bentley was one of the biggest standouts from last week’s preseason opener.
Defensive end Keionta Davis, who spent all of last season on the non-football injury list, also gets the start tonight, with the Patriots choosing him over Derek Rivers to fill the spot that would be occupied by the injured Trey Flowers.
Eric Rowe will start over Jason McCourty at cornerback again. McCourty didn’t play at all against the Redskins, so it’ll be interesting to see how many snaps he gets in this one.
6:48 p.m.: Patriots players not on the field for warmups:
WR Braxton Berrios
RB Rex Burkhead
CB Duke Dawson
RB Sony Michel
LB Harvey Langi
CB Ryan Lewis
OT Marcus Cannon
ST Matthew Slater
DE Trey Flowers
WR Kenny Britt
6:48 p.m.: This will be Tom Brady’s first game with his new helmet, which he began wearing last weekend at the urging of Patriots equipment manager Brenden Murphy.
Other notes: Phillip Dorsett is in uniform after his injury scare in Tuesday’s practice. Wideouts Braxton Berrios, Kenny Britt and Matthew Slater are absent.
6:42 p.m.: Catching punts in warmups: Julian Edelman, Patrick Chung, Riley McCarron, Chris Hogan and Cyrus Jones.
Kickoffs: McCarron, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jeremy Hill, Jomal Wiltz and Devin Lucien. Lucien typically is not part of this group.
Rookie Braxton Berrios is not on the field with the rest of the returners, which is surprising. He and McCarron returned all punts and kicks against the Redskins.
6:24 p.m.: “41-33” is the new “28-3.”
Check out what’s currently flying above Gillette Stadium:
6:09 p.m.: Tom Brady, who is expected to make his preseason debut tonight, just made a rare early appearance on the game field.
Wearing game pants and cleats, he briefly chatted with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and threw a few passes to Patriots receiver Eric Decker before heading back to the locker room.
We typically don’t see Brady until he enters to Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” 45 minutes before kickoff, so this was a departure from the norm.
More scenes from pregame:
5:00 p.m.: Of the limited players we mentioned earlier, it appears Marquis Flowers, Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones, Nate Ebner, Ryan Lewis and Dwayne Allen will not play tonight. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who rarely plays in the preseason, is expected to sit out, as well.
We’ll see on Duke Dawson, Kenny Britt, Trey Flowers and Jeremy Hill.
1:00 p.m. ET: Greetings from Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots are preparing to host the team that defeated them in Super Bowl LII in Week 2 of the 2018 preseason.
Though tonight’s matchup between the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles technically is a Super Bowl rematch, the Pats will be more focused on internal improvement, as they’ll need to finalize their 53-man roster in just over two weeks.
Based on practice attendance and participation this week, it’s unlikely the following Patriots players will play tonight: running backs Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel, wide receiver Kenny Britt, cornerbacks Ryan Lewis and Duke Dawson, defensive end Trey Flowers, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, special teamer Matthew Slater and linebacker Harvey Langi.
Burkhead, Michel, Cannon, Slater and Langi all missed practice this week, and Britt, Lewis, Dawson and Flowers were limited.
The Patriots also could be without running back Jeremy Hill, tight end Dwayne Allen, linebacker Marquis Flowers and defensive end Trent Harris, as all four appeared to suffer injuries in practice this week. Flowers and Harris both left Tuesday’s practice early.
One player we should see a lot of is quarterback Tom Brady, who dressed but did not play in last Thursday’s preseason opener against the Washington Redskins.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, but be sure to follow along throughout the day for full pregame coverage, and click the link below for our game preview.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images