It was many things, but it was the return of Tom Brady to a live game situation. And he performed like Tom Brady should. Sure, there was a little rust. An underthrown ball to Moss, a rocket to Joey Galloway's knees. But it was good to see Brady back on the field. Throwing 10 for 15, 100 yards, and two touchdowns, Brady was productive for the time he was under center. But it's not all about Brady.
On offense, two were standouts: Chris Baker and Julian Edelman. Baker may herald the return of a smashmouth offense, one in which big men catch the ball and stampede over tiny little defensive backs. I like it. I always have. With two touchdowns, Baker proved he's a valuable addition to the offense. Big tight ends can handle those close quarter fights and Chris is no exception. And Edelman? What can you say but...ON...FREAKIN'...FIRE!! It was hard to miss that 75 yard punt return in the second quarter; very...Welker-like. It was clear why Wes on the sidelines - Belichick wanted to see what Julian Edelman could do. Good call.
Defense was ok overall, holding Philly to three field goals mid third quarter. It appeared there was a switch for many positions as things went to hell in a hand basket shortly thereafter. There were good plays all around, but nothing really stood out. It was cool to see Darius Butler make some plays and Patrick Chung seemed to be in the mix. FA acquisition Derrick Burgess made an impact after barely a week in training camp. I want to see more of him in the backfield. Pierre Woods seemed lost on a few plays as did Adalius Thomas.
The key to the Patriots win? Dominating the red zone. While the defense may not have looked that hot, they were able to keep Philly to 2/5 in the red zone. It doesn't matter that they smoked us in just about every yardage category available. The Eagles simply couldn't capitalize on their yardage.
Belichick will have a few words for the defense. Practice this week and weekend will be about the soft middle and about not getting into the backfield. Generate pressure and you force the QB to make bad decisions. That's what pass rushers are for. It will be interesting to see Burgess's progression through the pre season. It's all about the pass rush for me.