Best and worst: Patriots 37, Eagles 20
VERY, VERY NECESSARY
After an uneven first few weeks of camp, a reported sore back and moments of frustration with his performance, Tom Brady played the entire first half against Philly and turned in a nice performance. I’d say 7.8 out of 10. He went 19 for 26 for 172 and two touchdowns. Every throw wasn’t pinpoint. He had a couple of missed throws to Philip Dorsett, for instance, and wasn’t able to connect on both of his downfield throws. But he made sure he got the chains moving and strung together first downs in his six drives.
Patriots rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley followed up an impressive preseason debut with a lights-out performance against the Eagles. With Donta Hightower sitting this one out, Bentley pretty much played in his stead. On the first drive, he showed outstanding downfield coverage on speedy running back Jay Ajayi. On the last drive of the half, he broke up an end zone pass for tight end Dallas Goedert. He was on the spot for a fumble return touchdown after a sack by Adrian Clayborn He just keeps looking completely at home.
James White had a solid performance in the first half and that’s good because the team is probably going to lean on him. His first big play was a 22-yard carry on a third-and-2 he bounced to the outside after being strung out. He also had a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown and finished with six catches for 51 yards. Brady threw an incompletion on a would-be screen to White that there seemed to be a miscommunication on. He lasered the next throw to White on a third-and-12.
USING THEIR NOGGINS
On White’s 22-yard run, there was a flag thrown on Eagles defensive back Rodney McLeod for lowering his helmet to initiate contact. Any other year it would be a routine play, but this year, as it’s written, it’s a penalty. And it was the right call. As the game wore on, Philly kept on picking up penalties for the infraction. The Patriots mostly did a good job of trying to keep from initiating with their helmets. Devin McCourty, for instance, had a few different 1-on-1 opportunities where he clearly made sure to turn and let his shoulder hit the runner first and keep his head out of the initial contact.
Even though he had a nice pass breakup in the end zone, safety Jordan Richards picked up a pair of 15-yard penalties on back-to-back plays. The first was for lowering his head on contact. The second was a facemask.
Stephen Gostkowski was shaken up trying to come up with a tackle on the sideline after his second kickoff. He appeared to injure his shoulder after a diving attempt ended with him hitting the turf and getting booted in the head. He came back and had a solid game after that.
NOT A WYNNING DEVELOPMENT
Rookie Isaiah Wynn came in for the second series to play right tackle but left at the end of the third series with a lower leg injury that looked ominous. There was no sideways twist that would indicate an ankle or knee, just pressure applied as he backpedaled and then some limping. He was carted off and there was online concern that he may have suffered an Achilles injury. It was reported as an ankle injury in the press box.
YOUNG AND RESTED
Wynn joined fellow rookies Duke Dawson (hamstring), Sony Michel (knee) and Braxton Berrios (unknown) on the injured list. Trey Flowers also sat out.
DROP, DROP, DROP, DROP, DROP
Chris Hogan, Eric Decker, Will Tye, Brandon Bolden and Cordarelle Patterson all had drops on what should have been fairly easy completions.
BUTLER DID IT
Second-year player Adam Butler had a third-down sack in the first half. Another second-year guy, Deatrich Wise opened an alley for Kyle Van Noy to shoot through for a sack as well.
Patrick Chung delivered a thunderous block on a fair-catch by Riley McCarron in the first half.
Keion Crossen, a rookie seventh-rounder, had a tough series in the second quarter with a pair of pass interference penalties when he got himself woefully out of position.
TURNED INSIDE OUT
Jason McCourty bit on a goal-line slant that turned into a fade and a touchdown for the Eagles. It wasn’t a pretty play.
CORDARELLE … HE FAST
Cordarelle Patterson showed why he’s got the potential to be such a potent weapon for the Patriots, outlegging Eagles defenders who appeared to have him hemmed in on a 22-yard gain. It could have been longer had he not stepped ever-so-slightly on the sideline. He also had a touchdown that included a sudden change of direction that froze the Eagles defender on the play.
That doesn’t make sense. But Ryan Allen had a big night booming punts of 44, 46, 56 and 58.