It was only a pre-season opener, but the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles put on a star-spangled show on Friday night.
The Patriots won 31-22, but that may be recalled as a footnote in a game that produced several major talking points.
The Patriots, without five of last season’s top receivers, nonetheless opened with six straight runs and a touchdown.
That all began on the first snap with a 62-yard run by Stevan Ridley, who finished with 92 yards on eight carries.
Philadelphia’s No. 3 quarterback Matt Barkely 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.
Tom Brady started at quarterback for the Patriots. Not only did he hand off on those six runs, he completed seven of eight passes for 65 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 140.
DOLPHINS 27, JAGUARS 3
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill showed improvement from his first pre-season game, 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 Miami’s 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game, also connected with Keller on a 24-yard pass play during a first-quarter scoring drive.
TEXANS 27, VIKINGS 13
Two rookie wide receivers impressed in the Houston Texans’ 27-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
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.
CARDINALS 17, PACKERS 0
Arizona rookies Stepfan Taylor and Tyrann Mathieu made an impact in their first pre-season game and helped the Cardinals to a 17-0 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Taylor rushed for 64 yards on 20 carries and Mathieu 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.
PANTHERS 24, BEARS 17
Carolina cornerback Josh Norman had two interceptions and returned one 60 yards for a touchdown in the Panthers’ 24-17 victory over Chicago.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw an interception on Chicago’s first play from scrimmage, but finished six of eight 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 three of six for 16 yards.
SAINTS 17, CHIEFS 13
Preston Parker caught two touchdown passes and Saints coach Sean Payton returned to the sideline for the first time since a one-year suspension as New Orleans defeated Kansas City and new Chiefs coach Andy Reid 17-13.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees played two series and completed seven of 10 passes for 65 yards.
Alex Smith led Kansas City on a 14-play, 80-yard drive in their opening series. He completed seven of eight passes for 68 yards in his only action.