By Lorena Alvarez
PHILADELPHIA—The New England Patriots trounced the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, 31-22, during their first preseason game, which was awash with the anticipation that naturally comes from a game where one team has a new coach and dueling starting quarterbacks, while the other has a former star player facing charges of first-degree murder.
It was the Patriots’ first game since former tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder. Chip Kelly, former head coach of the University of Oregon, made his debut as the Eagles’ head coach. And Kelly began the season with an unexpected bang, listing both Michael Vick and Nick Foles as the starting quarterback on his roster.
The Patriots came out of the gate with high intensity. Veteran starting quarterback Tom Brady led his team to a touchdown in the first drive of the game. Brady finished 7 of 8 for 65 yards, with one touchdown pass. His final drive included a 13-yard touchdown pass to running back Shane Veeran, giving the Patriots a 14-7 lead near the end of the first quarter.
Vick and Foles each led a touchdown drive. Vick was first up, and his five-play scoring drive ended with a 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
The Eagles’ other starting wide receiver, Riley Cooper, who himself has been mired in controversy for his recent use of a racial slur, caught a 19-yard pass in Vick’s second and final drive for the night.
Foles also faced pressure when his first possession ended in a turnover. His second possession ended in a touchdown, however. Overall, Vick finished 4 of 5 for 94 yards while Foles completed 5 of 6 passes for 43 yards, with no touchdowns.
The Eagles also let Matt Barkley, a rookie out of USC, acclimate to the speed of the professional game. Barkley made inaccurate throws throughout the night, finishing 11 of 22.
Making his debut with the New England Patriots was Tim Tebow, who entered after back-up quarterback Ryan Mallett left the game with a head injury in the second quarter. Tebow seemed to do his best when he had the ball in his hands, but when he was asked to throw, he often missed his receivers or held the ball too long. He ended the night 4 of 12 for 55 yards.
In one of the highlights of the evening, former Tampa Bay rusher LeGarrett Blount completed a 51-yard touchdown after reversing his direction twice on the play, in his first game for New England. In the end he led the New England rushers with two touchdowns and 101 yards.