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New England Patriots Links 8/14/09 - Patriots Over Eagles in First Exhibition Game

<em>Patriots WR Julian Edelman returns a punt for a touchdown during the Patriots preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles August 13, 2009.    Photo by Keith Nordstrom</em>
Patriots WR Julian Edelman returns a punt for a touchdown during the Patriots preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles August 13, 2009. Photo by Keith Nordstrom


NFL Game Center: Post Game - New England at Philadelphia Preseason Week 1

Tom Brady is officially back: The former league MVP started for the first time in nearly a year and the results were mostly solid outside of a first-quarter interception to Sheldon Brown (Brady got a little too much air under a pass intended for Randy Moss). Brady finished 10-of-15 for 100 yards and two touchdowns -- both to TE Chris Baker -- passing mostly out of the shotgun formation.

Julian Edelman does a great Wes Welker impersonation: The former Kent State quarterback was drafted in the seventh round to be a wide receiver and return man, and put on a convincing performance Thursday. Edelman took back a punt 75 yards for a touchdown and added 37 yards on a team-high five receptions.

Jeff Howe notes the strenuous training camp plus the preseason changes are paying off for the Patriots.

It’s not as much about the wins and losses as it is about how they earned those results. Did the starters execute — or even play, for that matter (the Pats have lost four of their last five preseason finales, when the key players never suit up) — before the second- and third-stringers fell short? Or, Belichick has admitted there were games in which he would rather get a look at the positional battles to get a better feel of his team before deciding on roster cut downs.

Belichick has also said he uses the preseason to perfect situational football, not worrying about the product as a whole as much as executing specific plays in certain situations. “We would rather just run whatever we have and learn how to execute it,” he said Tuesday.

Thursday night, the execution far exceeded the expectations for a preseason opener. While the Eagles bumbled their way to drive-killing penalties, the Patriots took advantage and capitalized with fluid play while the first team was on the field.

Bob Ryan says there is a reason for the high expectations for the 2009 New England Patriots.

There was a lot more good than bad. He threw two touchdown passes, both to Baker, an ex-Jet. He threw a bad interception. He sneaked for a first down. He looked calm and confident. He was back doing what he loves, and the Patriots were better off for it.

The numbers revealed that Brady was 10 for 15 for 100 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Oh, and one successful 3-yard QB sneak for a first down. But it has never been about gaudy numbers for Brady. It has been about being a winning presence. That was the case before Sept. 7, 2008, and that was the case last night. The score was 21-6, Patriots, at the half, and Brady had a lot to do with that.