Although it was only a preseason opener for both teams, the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles put on a star-spangled, nationally televised show Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
For the record, the Patriots won 31-22, but that may be recalled as a footnote in a game that featured several more historic details, such as:
— A Patriots offense that lost five of its top receivers — including injured Rob Gronkowski and jailed Aaron Hernandez — since last season, opened with six straight runs and a touchdown. That all began on the first snap with a 62-yard run by Stevan Ridely, who finished with 92 yards on eight carries.
— In his NFL debut, Eagles coach Chip Kelly did not unveil the blur-fast offense he had at Oregon but did begin with a 77-yard drive that ended in a 47-yard touchdown from Michael Vick to DeSean Jackson.
— Philadelphia’s No. 3 quarterback Matt Barkely, who a year ago was rated the No. 1 quarterback in the nation with then No. 1-ranked USC, played much of the game and showed signs that he may have been a fourth-round steal. He completed 11 of 22 for 103 yards and a touchdown.
— Tim Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida now with this third team in three seasons, entered the game as the Patriots’ No. 3 quarterback and played more than he did all last year with the New York Jets. He completed 4 of 12 passes for 55 yards and ran four times for 31 yards.
— And, oh yes, a guy named Tom Brady started at quarterback for the Patriots. Not only did he hand off on those six runs, he completed 7 of 8 passes for 65 yards, one touchdown and a Brady-esque passer rating of 140.
And despite all that, perhaps the most impressive performance of the game was by New England’s fourth-year veteran running back LeGarrette Blount, who is trying to stick with his third NFL team.
Blount, perhaps best known for punching an opponent in the chops at Oregon in a nationally televised 2009 season opener, more or less had the same effect on the Eagles, bashing his way for 101 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
In other NFL preseason games Friday:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed improvement from his first preseason game to the second, completing 5-of-9 passes for 75 yards and a 22-yard touchdown to Dustin Keller in the Dolphins’ 27-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tannehill, who played only 10 snaps in the Dolphins 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game, also connected with Keller on a 24-yard pass play during the first-quarter scoring drive against the Jags.
Dolphins rookie Caleb Sturgis kicked a 58-yard field goal in the third quarter and added a 36-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Jacksonville quarterback Blake Gabbert struggled, completing 5-of-10 passes for 19 yards and an interception. Chad Henne was 8-of-11 for 87 yards. The Jaguars had four turnovers.
MINNEAPOLIS — Two rookie wide receivers were impressive in the Houston Texans’ 27-13 preseason victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night.
First-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins caught a 34-yard touchdown pass for the Texans and Cordarrelle Patterson, also selected in the first round in April, had four receptions for 54 yards and ran back the opening kickoff 50 yards in the first half.
Hopkins finished with four catches for 52 yards.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder took only two snaps and completed a 15-yard pass to Jerome Simpson before throwing an interception.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Arizona rookies Stepfan Taylor and Tyrann Mathieu made an impact in their first preseason game and helped the Cardinals to a 17-0 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Friday night.
Taylor rushed for 64 yards on 20 carries and Mathieu, the former LSU cornerback who was kicked off the team and did not play last season, had a sack and returned two punts.
Quarterback Carson Palmer, in his first game for the Cardinals, threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts in the first quarter.
The Packers were shut out in a full exhibition game for the first time since 1987.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a 50-yard pass to James Jones in his only series and finished 3 of 5 for 62 yards, Vince Young made his Packers debut and was 1 of 3 for 7 yards and carried two times for 12 yards.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina cornerback Josh Norman had two interceptions and returned one 60 yards for a touchdown in the Panthers’ 24-17 victory over Chicago in Marc Trestman’s debut as Bears coach.
The Bears defense produced four Carolina turnovers and linebacker Jonathan Bostic returned an interception 51 yards for a score.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw an interception on Chicago’s first play from scrimmage but finished 6 of 8 for 56 yards. Three plays after the pickoff, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell.
Newton played three series and was 3 of 6 for 16 yards.
NEW ORLEANS — Preston Parker caught two touchdown passes and Saints coach Sean Payton returned to the sideline for the first time since the bounty suspension as New Orleans defeated Kansas City and new Chiefs coach Andy Reid 17-13 on Friday night.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees played two series and completed 7 of 10 passes for 65 yards.
Alex Smith, the former 49ers quarterback who also was making his Chiefs debut, led Kansas City on a 14-play, 80-yard drive in its opening series. He completed 7 of 8 passes for 68 yards in his only action.