Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns and David Patten caught two of them while the New England defense kept the Eagles offense out of the end zone for the entire game en route to a 24-12 win and a 3-0 preseason record.
Normal procedure for the third preseason game is to get the starters a little more work than in games one and two and in the first half, the Patriots starting defense, now anchored by Ted Washington, showed improvement against the run, only giving up 43 yards and sacking Donovan McNabb three times.
While Washington was in the game the Eagles mustered only 10 yards on 5 attempts with their running game – a good sign for a Patriots defense looking for answers in exactly that area.
On offense, Tom Brady was 11 of 19 for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the first half but he got a little extra work in the third quarter taking his team 61 yards in 12 plays and hitting Daniel Graham in the end zone from 5 yards out for a 24-3 lead. Hard running by Smith accounted for much of the yardage but a big pass to David Patten for 23 yards on third and 10 was the back breaker for the Eagles. Brady ended the night 14 of 24 for 148 yards and three touchdowns.
While the Eagles suffered their share of injuries, at press time only one of note for the Patriots was known; Dan Koppen left the game in the first quarter with an arm injury and was replaced at center by Bill Conaty. Koppen had started in place of Damien Woody who sat out the game with a leg injury.
Turnovers marked the first half of the game.
After the Eagles recovered a Kevin Faulk fumble on their own 29, they marched to the Patriots 23-yard line and looked in position to take an early lead. But on first and 10, Roman Phifer broke into the Philly backfield and stripped Donovan McNabb. Bobby Hamilton recovered and the Patriots survived their turnover and then made the Eagles pay.
On the ensuing drive, Eagles corner Troy Vincent drew a flag as he tried to break up a pass intended for Deion Branch down the right sideline. The 38-yard pass interference call set up New England at the Philly 22. Two plays later, David Patten got by his man as Brady floated the ball nicely into the end zone and the Patriots were on top 7-0 with the Vinatieri extra point.
Yet another Philadelphia turnover led to the Patriots second score of the first quarter. A Ken Walter punt was mishandled and recovered by New England. After a couple Antowain Smith carries and an incomplete pass to Christian Fuaria, however, the Patriots managed only three points with a 27-yard Vinatieri field goal.
But one turnover deserved another in this game and with his team on the Eagles 23-yard line, Brady had the ball jarred loose by Nate Wayne and Marc Simoneau recovered.
This time, the Eagles managed three points off the turnover on a 38-yard David Akers field goal. On the drive, McNabb worked the ball downfield mostly through the air but on third and 6, James Thrash went up for a ball and wound up coming down on his head and neck. After a long delay, the wide receiver was taken off the field on a stretcher and Akers came on for the field goal (x-rays taken during the game came up negative and Thrash was reported to be in good condition).
Up 10-3 and nearing the half, the Patriots last drive came on a 12-yard pass from Brady to Patten. The drive began with a couple Smith runs before Damon Huard – who had been picked off by Vincent the previous drive -- hit Troy Brown for 15 yards. With the clock at two minutes remaining, Brady came back in the game to get some work under those conditions. Despite two false start penalties, the offense managed to go from its own 26 with passes to Brown, Patten, Larry Centers and Branch before the final completion to Patten.
The touchdown scored by Brady to Graham in the third quarter was the only score for either team in that set. It wasn't until 12:53 remained in the fourth quarter that Philadelphia was able to add to their three points with yet another three -- a 10-play, 48-yard drive ending in a 45-yard Akers field goal. The Patriots remained in control at 24-6.
That control grew a little less firm when Ivory McCoy picked off Huard and easily returned the ball 66 yards to pull the Eagles within 12 at 24-12. Philly's attempt at a two-point conversion failed when Leonard Myers intercepted a pass intended for Billy McMullen.
That was the end of the scoring highlights however, as the clock ran out on the knee of Rohan Davey.
On the night, Faulk led the Patriot rushers with 39 yards on 10 carries. The Patriots had 108 yards as a team. Receiving was led by Patten with 5 catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
The Patriots wrap up the preseason with a Wednesday night game at Gillette Stadium against the Bears this week.