FOXBOROUGH — On a day where Tom Brady, the architect of so many late-game comebacks, was celebrated at halftime, Mac Jones and the Patriots nearly completed a rousing comeback in the waning minutes of Sunday’s season opener against the Eagles.
But Jones’s Brady impression still needs work, and the New England offense couldn’t complete the comeback, falling 25-20 to the defending NFC champions at rainy Gillette Stadium.
The Eagles went up, 16-0, in the first quarter before Jones connected with Hunter Henry first, then Kendrick Bourne, to make it 16-14 entering the half.
New England was shut out in the second half until Jones found Bourne again for an 11-yard pass with 3:37 to play in the fourth quarter. The two-point attempt was no good.
The Patriots got the ball back with under two minutes to play and picked up two first downs, but couldn’t complete the drive. Rookie Kayshon Boutte nearly completed a catch that would have put New England within 12 yards of the end zone, but it was called back after a review.
Jones finished with 316 yards, one interception, and three touchdown passes on 35-54 passing. New addition Ezekiel Elliott led Patriots rushers with 29 yards on seven attempts; Rhamondre Stevenson had 25 yards on 12 attempts.
Bourne and Stevenson each had 64 yards receiving; Henry had 56.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 170 yards and a touchdown — he connected with DeVonta Smith late in the first quarter — on 22-for-33 passing. Running back Kenneth Gainwell led their rushers with 54 yards on 14 attempts. Philly’s A.J. Brown led all receivers with 79 yards, catching 7 of the 10 passes sent his way.
Read more about the Patriots’ loss
- Instant analysis: Patriots show promise and resiliency, but it’s not enough against the Eagles, and other takeaways
- Dan Shaughnessy: Plenty of positive signs for the Patriots, just not where it counted — on the scoreboard
Read about Tom Brady’s return
- With the presence of greatness, Tom Brady is saluted at Gillette, and returns the favor, as he did throughout his career
- ‘I am a Patriot for life:’ There was only room for gratitude at Gillette Stadium upon Tom Brady’s return
- Photos: Tom Brady returns to Foxborough to celebrate with Patriots fans
- Tom Brady is headed to the Patriots Hall of Fame. Watch the ceremony and see what he had to say.
Eagles 25, Patriots 20: Live updates and analysis
Matt Judon’s postgame comments: Weighing in on Hurts, Peppers — 9:35 p.m.
On the game plan for Jalen Hurts: “... Just making him have to read our defense. We’re not trying to have him or any other offense dictate the game. We’re trying to dictate the game. We’re trying to be aggressive. We’re moving, we’re dropping in and out of different coverages. We’re not just sitting in Cover 1. They have great wide receivers we had to get our hands on. Just mix up the looks for [Hurts] and muddy the looks up for him.”
On Jabrill Peppers’s big hit on Hurts: “Jabrill’s a hitter. Jabrill will walk around the weight room shadow-boxing; we know he’s a physical guy. You’re gonna hear him regardless. ... He got us the ball back. That’s what we needed. I think we’re gonna see a lot more of those types of plays — big hits, being in the right spots, just good plays by a great players.”
On the defense getting better at getting critical stops: “We gotta keep playing like that. We gotta keep playing fast and physical. First game we can’t say, ‘Yeah, that’s who we are.’ That’s who we want to be though. We want to get them off the field. Tonight was a small step and a long stride in a long season.”
Mac Jones postgame comments: A slow start, failed drives, and more — 9:20 p.m.
On his slow start: “I think just working through some things. Really didn’t throw any good passes on the first drive, so, definitely slow start and it starts with me, so just gotta was the tape and clean it up. But definitely felt like we fought hard. Rookies played really well, the offensive line played really well, the skill players played really well. Definitely let the team down tonight. Couldn’t score early and we fell behind because of me, and I put it on myself.”
On the Patriots’ last two drives, on both of which they failed to score: “Yeah, not good by me. They gave me the ball twice to win the game and I just couldn’t do it. Just got to go back and watch and see what I can do better. As the quarterback that hurts, right? Get a chance to win the game twice and can’t do it. So just got to learn from it. You only get so many opportunities in the NFL to do that, and I felt like I definitely let the team down.”
On the offensive line: “Starting two rookies on the offensive line is tough, and they played really really good all night. Didn’t really feel the pressure at all against the best defensive line in the NFL, so I felt they did an amazing job. Couldn’t thank them enough for the job they did tonight.”
On what helped the offense settle in: “I think Coach [Bill] O’Brien just doing his thing, calling the game how he knows how to call it. He did a great job preparing us all week.”
What did he not like about his game: “I’ll have to go look. I felt like there were definitely a couple times where I probably didn’t throw to the right guy. Just have to watch the film. Sometimes when you’re out there, it’s going fast. Just have to stay neutral. ... I do think I have the ability to make all the throws, it’s not that, it’s just doing it at the right time, and just trying to watch the film and make it work.”
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni on the Patriots: ‘That’s a really good defense’ — 9:10 p.m.
Nick Sirianni was asked after his team’s win on Sunday if the key to victory was the Eagles, or the way the Patriots played.
“You know, that’s a good defense. That’s a really good defense,” he said. “They are really well-coached. There’s a couple that I saw, Smitty [DeVonta Smith], little throws on the sideline where I saw Smitty get out of those and spin out of those and they made really good tackles.
“That team, shoot, [a] Bill Belichick-coached team, it’s going to be well-coached, and I thought that’s exactly what it was. ... There’s a lot of good players on that Patriot defense, also, starting with [Matthew] Judon. They all play really solid football. I’ve got a lot of respect for that team.”
Highlights: What David Andrews had to say after the game — 9:00 p.m.
Grading the Patriots’ performance against Eagles defense: “You’ve got to be your best at your most crucial moments. And penalties, different things throughout the game [we can] clean up, but have to be better, right? And that’s kind of on us. Hats off to them. They’re a really good football team. But hard to beat a good football team when you’re trying to beat yourself and we did a little bit of that.”
On Sunday’s game: “...You got to learn the hard way right? And so you learn by going out there and taking our licks and bumps, and getting beat and things like that. So they have a lot to clean up and we all have a lot to clean up from this game. Proud of the way they competed, the way they answered against a really good defensive football team and arguably one of the best fronts in football. But like I said, we just got to be better when it counts.”
On Tom Brady coming back: “I’ve got a lot of memories with Tom. He means a lot to me. He taught me a lot about this league and I credit a lot of my success to him because he pushed me a lot. He was really hard on me, my first few months here and first few years, and taught me a lot about the game — a lot about what it looks like to be a champion. So I will always appreciate that. He was a great friend. He’s always great to me, my wife, anyone.”
On mindset during the game: “I think the mental toughness today, I think that was big. Being down the first quarter, bad football offensively, kind of putting that behind us and going forward. And even some other drives in there that weren’t great — not imploding. Defense gave us a huge chance. We try to take as much opportunities as we can. I think when you look at a game like this, it’s pretty easy to see how we win, right? Penalties. Turnovers. [It] wasn’t a lot of missed assignments [or] things like that. So it’s really stuff we can control. And that’s what we’ll try to do this week, starting tomorrow.”
Highlights: What Bill Belichick had to say after the loss — 8:40 p.m.
On if the offense had to adjust with the early rain: “I don’t think so. We didn’t launch a lot of deep balls, but there weren’t may of those anyway. I mean, it was a little bit of a factor early in the game, yeah.”
On rotating different receivers in, and having Boutte/Douglas play over Juju late: “We had different groups, different rotations, so we’re good with whoever’s in there.”
On 4th and 3 situation from the 17-yard line in 4th quarter: “It was the best decision for the team.”
Looking back on that decision: “We made the best decision we could at the time. Didn’t know we’d be down there multiple times [with] six minutes left in the game. If we had kicked that I’m sure you’d be asking if we were gonna go for it.”
On bouncing back from early deficit: “We didn’t play good enough to win. Did enough things to make it competitive but not enough to win. Got to coach better, got to play better.”
On offensive line performance: “I think overall we played competitively. Thought we had some good plays and then we had a couple of plays that could have been better, obviously. A couple of holding, had some key penalties and obviously the turnovers and so [we] just need to do a better job.”
On Peppers forced fumble hit: “Great contact play, Pep’s an explosive player. Great hit, ball popped right out, it was a great tackle. I thought we, for the most part, tackled pretty well tonight, but always room for improvement.”
Tom Brady is saluted at Gillette, and returns the favor, as he did throughout his career — 8:20 p.m.
By Nicole Yang
With Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” blasting through the Gillette Stadium speakers Sunday, Tom Brady ran the length of the field, pumped his fist upon reaching the end zone, and yelled, “Let’s [expletive] go!”
The sequence is one Patriots fans know well. Brady’s done it countless times as a Patriot — and once as a Buccaneer — starting each of his games at Gillette Stadium the same way.
Even though he hung up his cleats “for good” in February, Brady couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it once more, which kicked off the special halftime ceremony the Patriots planned to thank the seven-time Super Bowl champion for his two-decade tenure with the team.
“That run out was a little harder today than it used to be,” Brady joked during his remarks to the sellout crowd. “I’m not quite in game shape.”
Instant analysis: Patriots show promise and resiliency, but it’s not enough — 8:05 p.m.
In Sunday’s opener against the defending NFC champions, the Patriots answered some questions: No, the offensive line isn’t as bad as we initially thought. Yes, the rookies can be trusted. And yes, the defense is capable of keeping an MVP candidate such as Jalen Hurts in check.
But in the end, it wasn’t enough against the Eagles. Philadelphia jumped to a 16-0 lead and hung on for a 25-20 win over the Patriots.
Game over — 7:40 p.m.
Eagles are 1-0. Patriots are 0-1.
Boutte’s catch called back — 7:38 p.m.
The Patriots came up short on a last-chance drive when Kayshon Boutte was not able to get his feet inbounds on a fourth-and-11 pass play attempt from the Eagles’ 22.
The play was automatically reviewed, and the replay booth confirmed it was an incomplete pass.
Jones started the drive with a 9-yard pass to Kendrick Bourne, his top target on Sunday, and Jones also had a 7-yard scramble. He then hit Mike Gesicki for 17 yards to put the Patriots at the Eagles’ 19 before he was sacked by Jalen Carter to push the Patriots back to the 22.
Patriots have one more shot — 7:31 p.m.
The Patriots have another chance. They will start at their own 44 after the Eagles went three-and-out on their possession following a New England turnover on downs.
The Eagles decided to go for it on fourth-and-2, but Jalen Hurts’s pass fell incomplete after being broken up by rookie CB Christian Gonzalez.
Patriots can’t take advantage after forcing fumble — 7:28 p.m.
The Patriots could not convert on fourth-and-17 with 2:15 left in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles have the ball on their own 48, leading 25-20.
Mac Jones’s pass attempt to Hunter Henry was incomplete. Own third-and-12 on the previous play, Jones fired over the middle but Kendrick Bourne could not come up with the catch. A delay of game penalty left the Patriots with fourth-and-17.
Eagles turn it over — 7:20 p.m.
Marcus Jones recovered an Eagles fumble and the Patriots have first-and-10 at the Philadelphia 41 with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter.
Jalen Hurts fumbled when he was hit by Jabrill Peppers on first-and-10. Hurts had scrambled for 8 yards before coughing it up.
Jones to Bourne again — 7:15 p.m.
Eagles 25, Patriots 20 | 3:37, fourth quarter | 6 plays, 75 yards, 1:56
New England scored quickly to get right back in the game. An 11-yard pass play from Mac Jones to Kendrick Bourne cut Philadelphia’s lead to 25-20 with 3:37 left.
Jones raced into the end zone for a 2-point conversion that was negated by a holding penalty on offensive lineman Calvin Anderson. New England’s second attempt at a 2-point conversion failed when Jones’s pass was batted down in the end zone.
Elliott good again to keep Eagles ahead — 7:10 p.m.
Eagles 25, Patriots 14 | 5:33, fourth quarter | 7 plays, 50 yards, 3:59
Patriots rookie Christian Gonzalez recorded his first sack as a pro player. Gonzalez, chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, raced in nearly untouched to corral Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts by the feet as he tried to scramble.
The Eagles took a 25-14 lead on Jake Elliott’s fourth field goal, this time a 51-yarder with 5:33 left in the fourth quarter.
That capped an eight-play, 45-yard drive. The key play came after an overturned call that negated a 48-yard reception by A.J. Brown, but the Eagles went right back to Brown for a 23-yard pass play.
Call overturned — 7:05 p.m.
A 48-yard catch by Eagles receiver A.J. Brown was overturned when challenged by Patriots coach Bill Belichick with 9:16 left in the fourth quarter. On first down, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts let it fly down the right sideline and Brown hauled it in as he stepped out of bounds, but he juggled the ball a bit after getting both feet inbounds. — Pepin
Drive ends early — 6:59 p.m.
Mac Jones was taken down as he tried to scramble on fourth-and-3, and the Patriots saw an 11-play drive end with 9:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Fletcher Cox, making his second impactful stop in as many plays, helped force the issue and Haasan Reddick brought Jones to the turf. The Eagles take over at their own 17.
Earlier, on fourth-and-8, Hunter Henry corralled a Mac Jones pass over the middle with one hand and plunged toward the line to gain to sustain the drive. — Pepin
Elliott banks in another field goal — 6:46 p.m.
Eagles 22 Patriots 14 | 13:21, fourth quarter | 11 plays, 50 yards, 4:22
The Eagles capped an 11-play, 50-yard drive with another field goal.
Jake Elliott’s 48-yard field goal attempt bonked off the left upright and over the bar to give the Eagles a 22-14 lead with 13:21 left in the fourth quarter.
On third-and-7, Jalen Hurts overthrew Dallas Goedert to leave the Eagles with no choice but to kick.
The Eagles, who started at their own 20, had key receptions from DeVonta Smith, including two for 13 yards and another for 9.
End of third quarter: Eagles 19, Patriots 14 — 6:41 p.m.
The Eagles will have the ball at the New England 46.
Patriots punt again — 6:35 p.m.
A 15-play Patriots possession was derailed by a pair of holding penalties and a loss of 4 yards on third-and-21 at the Philadelphia 39.
Rookie Bryce Baringer’s punt resulted in a touchback, putting the Eagles at their own 20 with 2:43 left in the third quarter,
The Patriots had moved 52 yards on the drive.
Eagles forced to burn time out — 6:21 p.m.
Eagles 19, Patriots 14 | 8:48, third quarter | 10 plays, 33 yards, 4:55
The Eagles saw an 11-play, 43-yard drive end with a 56-yard field goal by Jake Elliott that gave them a 19-14 lead – but not before Philly was forced to call a timeout to get set.
Elliott is 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, but he did miss an extra-point attempt after the Eagles’ second touchdown.
The key play on the drive was the first, a 15-yard reception by AJ Brown that put Philadelphia at their own 44.
Second half underway — 6:10 p.m.
The Patriots went 3-and-out to begin the third quarter.
First-half takeaways — 6:05 p.m.
Christopher Price’s first-half takeaways:
• In a nutshell, the defense and special teams played well over the first two quarters. The offense was heard from late when Jones connected on 10 straight pass plays to finish the half, but not consistently enough.
• In the early going, ball security was an issue. Kendrick Bourne couldn’t corral a pass from Jones, the ball slipped free, and Darius Slay took it back 70 yards for a pick-6. A brutal sequence for the Patriots’ offense that ended with Philadelphia taking a 10-0 lead with 4:56 left in the first quarter. On the very next offensive play for New England, Zeke Elliott couldn’t hold on to the ball, and the Eagles took over on the Patriots’ 26-yard line. A few plays later, Hurts found DeVonta Smith for a five-yard touchdown pass to make it 16-0 with 2:39 left in the first quarter. (The extra point was no good.)
• It’s important to note that Elliott hasn’t had problems with ball security in the past; it was his first fumble lost since 2021. One other Elliott note: it appeared he ditched his dark visor soon after that. Probably not easy seeing through that on a day with such lousy weather.
• After a sluggish stretch, the offense came to life with a nice drive midway through the second quarter when Jones engineered a 10-play, 71-yard sequence that included a 15-yard pass play to JuJu Smith-Schuster and a 23-yarder to Pop Douglas. The series was capped by a. 7-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Hunter Henry to make it 16-7.
• The Patriots followed that up with another good drive, a six-play, 63-yard drive that was topped by a really nice pass from Jones to Kendrick Bourne to make it 16-14 with 25 seconds left in the first half.
• The Patriots played a lot of man coverage out of the gate against Philadelphia. (It wasn’t exclusive, but it certainly looked like Jonathan Jones was traveling an awful lot with A.J. Brown.) New England yielded a pair of early third-down conversions, but Matthew Judon delivered a sack off the edge to force a Philadelphia field goal. (Judon flushed Hurts out of the pocket on multiple occasions and New England finished with two sacks.) The Eagles failed to convert on their last five third-down opportunities of the first half.
• You want a glass-is-half-full report? Despite the offensive line issues — two rookies started at guard — Jones wasn’t sacked times in the first half. A sizable portion of that was because of his own pocket presence, moving well to avoid pressure. (A nod to Tom Brady, who was in the building and one of the best in the business when it came to pocket awareness?) But no sacks and no hits. Good stuff.
• The emotion in the building was palpable at the start, with the appearance from Brady at the top of the remodeled lighthouse to New England’s decision to kick at the start of the game. The building was certainly buzzing out of the gate — despite the bad weather, the fans brought plenty of energy. Almost the whole place was on their feet. (The cheers turned to boos before the end of the first quarter as the Patriots dropped into a 16-point hole.)
• The first half didn’t feature a lot of flags, with Philly taking three penalties and the Patriots getting two. Deatrich Wise, Jr. took an ill-timed offsides call to help Philly continue its opening drive. Kyle Dugger picked up a defensive holding later in the first, that wiped out a Davon Godchaux sack and set up an Eagles’ first-and-goal from the 5-yard line.
• For the Patriots, the most consistent of the three phases in the first half was special teams: Ty Montgomery provided a special teams boost with a 43-yard kick return that set the Patriots up at their own 44 with just under two minutes to go in the first quarter. Marcus Jones nearly broke a punt return at the start of the second quarter, ending up with a 21-yard return that got New England into Philly territory. (Although Jones was lit up twice on second-quarter returns.) And Bryce Baringer’s first three punts of the season all dropped inside the Eagles’ 20-yard line.
• The Patriots will get the ball to start the second half.
First-half stat leaders — 6:02 p.m.
Patriots stats leaders: Mac Jones 17 of 24, 142 yards, 2 TDs; Ezekiel Elliott 2 carries, 10 yards; Hunter Henry 4 catches on 4 targets, 44 yards, 1 TD
Eagles stats leaders: Jalen Hurts 9 of 13, 47 yards, 1 TD; Kenneth Gainwell, 10 carries, 40 yards; AJ Brown, 3 catches on 3 targets, 18 yards
Brady being inducted to Patriots Hall of Fame — 5:57 p.m.
Kraft makes the announcement during the halftime celebration.
Watch the Brady ceremony here — 5:53 p.m.
End of first half — 5:52 p.m.
Eagles 16, Patriots 14.
Bourne grabs TD pass to close out first half — 5:49 p.m.
Eagles 16, Patriots 14 | 0:25, second quarter | 6 plays, 63 yards, 2:08
What a resurgence from the Patriots offense.
After a worst-case scenario start for Mac Jones and co., they’ve ripped through the Eagles through the air on back-to-back drives, and Jones suddenly can’t miss — he was 5 for 5 on that drive, capped off by a 19-yard pitch-and-catch to Kendrick Bourne in the end zone, and he’s completed 12 straight passes.
New England is back within 2, and gets the ball back after halftime. It’s a new game.
Two-minute warning — 5:42 p.m.
Make it four three-and-outs for the Patriots defense, which is keeping the team in the game — a score before halftime, with New England getting the ball back after the break, would do wonders after a disastrous opening quarter.
The offense takes over a fresh set of downs at its own 37. — Touri
Jones to Henry for a TD — 5:35 p.m.
Eagles 16, Patriots 7 | 4:34, second quarter | 10 plays, 71 yards, 4:48
The Patriots offense finally gave the chain gang some work and Mac Jones found his rhythm, completing seven passes to seven different receivers — finished off by a 9-yard touchdown toss to Hunter Henry — for 67 yards and New England’s first score of the season. JuJu Smith-Schuster (15 yards) and Mike Gesicki (9 yards) both made their first catches as Patriots as part of the scoring drive.
Gesicki gets a touch — 5:30 p.m.
Mike Gesicki is trying to pump up the crowd after a 9-yard completion, his first catch of the game, for a first down. The Patriots finally broke their streak of three consecutive three-and-out drives. — Yang
Patriots take over on downs — 5:28 p.m.
The first downs have all dried up, as has Marcus Jones’s ability to call for a fair catch. The defense forced another three-and-out, and the second-year returner got popped as he shagged the punt for the second time in as many opportunities. The ball came loose this time, but went straight out of bounds and New England will take over on its own 29. — Touri
No it’s not — 5:22 p.m.
Maybe it was a bad throw from Mac Jones, maybe it was a bad drop from JuJu Smith-Schuster; either way, it was another three-and-out instead of a first down, and Bryce Baringer is staying busy with another punt inside the 15. — Touri
Analysis: Well, the course of this game seems awfully familiar. The defense is doing its job, while the offense cannot get anything going. — Yang
Third time’s the charm? — 5:18 p.m.
The three-and-outs keep coming, as the Patriots bottled up the Eagles offense again to quickly put the ball back in Mac Jones’s hands with strong field position at the New England 43. Maybe the third time’s the charm? — Touri
Patriots give up the ball ... again — 5:10 p.m.
Another drive, another three-and-out for the Patriots offense after getting great field position. It’s been a rough start for Mac Jones, who is just 4 of 9 for 18 yards and that early pick-6. Punter Bryce Baringer is doing his job, at least, pinning the Eagles inside the 10. — Touri
Analysis: The revamped offense is starting to look more and more like last year’s as the game goes on. The Patriots need to string together a solid drive before the half, not only to improve their chances of a comeback but also just to keep morale afloat. — Yang
Second quarter underway — 5:07 p.m.
The Patriots will once again have solid field position, this time thanks to a tip-toeing Marcus Jones. The 21-yard return puts them in Eagles territory already. — Touri
Coach Bill Belichick didn’t freeze out Ezekiel Elliott after his fumble, which is not surprising given Elliott’s veteran status. But the Patriots also do not have the offensive depth that would even afford him to do so. — Nicole Yang
End of first quarter: Eagles 16, Patriots 0 — 5:04 p.m.
That’s more like what Bill Belichick was looking for. The Patriots defense forced a three-and-out of their own to finish out the first quarter, punctuated by Myles Bryant’s big hit on AJ Brown after New England sent a blitz at Jalen Hurts on third down. — Touri
Share your thoughts on the first quarter here.
Tough day for the offense — 5:00 p.m.
Ty Montgomery set the Patriots up with great field position after a 43-yard return, but the offense went nowhere. Rhamondre Stevenson picked up a yard on first down, Mac Jones could have been picked again on second, and the Eagles pass rush flushed Jones out of the pocket to force an incompletion and a quick three-and-out. — Touri
Pats give up the ball — 4:59 p.m.
Early boos for the Patriots, who just went three-and-out. More are likely on the way, if the defense doesn’t get a stop here. — Yang
Eagles score ... again — 4:53 p.m.
Eagles 16, Patriots 0 | 2:39, first quarter | 4 plays, 26 yards, 2:08
The Eagles needed just five plays to capitalize on another turnover, as Jalen Hurts hit DeVonta Smith for a 5-yard touchdown pass to give the visitors a three-score lead before the end of the first quarter.
Tough start for Pats offense — 4:50 p.m.
The Patriots offense turned the ball over on back-to-back plays, with Mac Jones’s pick-6 immediately followed up by an Ezekiel Elliott fumble after a screen pass to give the Eagles excellent field position on the New England 26.
Analysis: Up until the pick-six, the Patriots’ offense actually looked smooth and efficient. Even with the two rookies at guard, the team moved the ball with some strong play calls from O’Brien. Lots of tempo, as expected.
Also of note: second-year cornerback Marcus Jones was on the field when Elliott fumbled. It appears the Patriots will continue to use him in all three phases, even though Jones primarily took defensive and special teams snaps during training camp. — Yang
Darius Slay snags pick-six — 4:44 p.m.
Eagles 10, Patriots 0 | 4:56, first quarter | Drive: 7 plays, 34 yards, 2:46
The first drive of the season for Mac Jones and the offense didn’t go as planned.
Jones just overthrew an open Kendrick Bourne who got fingertips to it, but the touch did him no good — the ball floated into the hands of Eagles cornerback Darius Slay for a 70-yard pick-6 to put New England behind by two scores early.
“E-A-G-L-E-S!” chants are ringing out at Gillette Stadium.
Analysis: The throw to Kendrick Bourne was a little high, but he definitely should have caught it. Bourne spent most of last season in Matt Patricia’s doghouse and seemed primed for a bounceback year, but that play is not going to help with earning the trust of the coaching staff.
And now Ezekiel Elliott fumbles on New England’s first play after the pick-six. The rain is probably playing a factor in the turnovers, but, as Bill Belichick will certainly say after the game, both teams are playing in the same conditions. — Nicole Yang
Eagles settle for a field goal to get on the board — 4:36 p.m.
Eagles 3, Patriots 0 | 7:42, first quarter | Drive: 14 plays, 61 yards, 7:18
The Eagles drove the field quickly on their first possession, with a Jalen Hurts quarterback draw on 3rd and 11 bringing Philadelphia inside the 10-yard line, but the Patriots held firm. Kenneth Gainwell was stuffed twice before the pocket collapsed around Hurts on third down and a Matthew Judon sack helped hold the Eagles to 3 points on the opening drive.
That looked like a miscommunication between Lane Johnson at RT and Cam Jurgens, the new RG for the Eagles, on the Judon sack. Both players went to block a blitzing Kyle Dugger. No one blocked the Patriots' best pass-rusher. He takes advantage.— Christopher Gasper (@cgasper) September 10, 2023
Defensive lineup for the Pats — 4:30 p.m.
Godchaux, Wise, Barmore, Peppers, Gonzalez, Bryant, Jones, Judon, Bentley, Dugger, Tavai start on defense for New England.— Christopher Price (@cpriceglobe) September 10, 2023
And we’re off! — 4:25 p.m.
The Patriots won the toss and deferred.
Tom Brady rings in the new lighthouse — 4:15 p.m.
Brady was spotted on the observation deck of the new lighthouse, towering over the north end of the stadium.
JuJu Smith-Schuster out to prove he’s still a ‘reliable guy’ — 4:00 p.m.
When wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster explains why he signed with the Patriots as a free agent this offseason, he typically mentions two things: coach Bill Belichick and the opportunity.
For the 26-year-old Smith-Schuster, entering his seventh NFL season, the three-year contract with Patriots is a chance to prove that he can still be a productive target, that he can still be a reliable option. New England’s receiving corps lacks an elite No. 1 playmaker, so the passing attack will rely heavily on a collective effort.
There are concerns about Smith-Schuster’s health, as he missed the majority of the spring while rehabbing a knee injury suffered in January. But he returned for training camp and hasn’t appeared on the injury report ahead of Week 1. Amid reports that his knee is “a mess,” Smith-Schuster is saying all the right things, that he feels “great” and is improving daily.
The hope is that Smith-Schuster can stay healthy and play an integral role in reviving an offense that regressed significantly last season.
Spotted: Tom Brady’s old teammates — 3:50 p.m.
What is the Pats’ over/under for the season? Get your pregame betting notes. — 3:45 p.m.
A few notable betting lines, as the Patriots open 2023 as low in Vegas’ estimation as ever:
- Over/under: 6.5 wins
- Make the playoffs: +245
- Win the AFC East: +800
- Win the Super Bowl: +6500
The oddsmakers initially had the Patriots’ over/under at 7.5, but that number has dropped to 6.5 as the opener approaches. You can get better than 2-to-1 odds on New England making the postseason, and according to FanDuel, only seven teams have longer odds to win it all.
If player props are your thing, here are some to keep an eye on:
- Mac Jones passing yards over/under: 3,199.5
- Rhamondre Stevenson touchdowns over/under: 5.5
- Matthew Judon sacks over/under: 11.75
- Christian Gonzalez to win Defensive Rookie of the Year: +1400
Vegas doesn’t have much faith in a big bounce back year for Jones, pegging him to fall well short of the 3,801 yards he put up as a rookie. The bookies are also playing it conservative with Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott’s touchdown numbers; while Stevenson’s yardage over/under (850.5) is just about double Elliott’s (425.5), the touchdown lines are nearly even (5.5 for Stevenson, 4.5 for Elliott) as it remains to be seen who will get the call for goal-line touches.
As for Sunday? It’s no surprise that the reigning NFC champion Eagles open as favorites, laying 3.5 points to the Patriots on the road as -185 moneyline favorites. The over/under for the opener has settled at 44.5.
Our predictions — 3:30 p.m.
Globe staffers are altogether more optimistic than the oddsmakers. Nobody is more bullish than Chad Finn, who has the Patriots finishing 10-7 largely thanks to a resurgent offense under a far more established offensive coordinator; Christopher L. Gasper, Christopher Price, Ben Volin, and Nicole Yang have New England just scraping over the .500 mark at 9-8; Tara Sullivan landed just under that threshold at 8-9; and Dan Shaughnessy is lowest on these Patriots, predicting a 7-10 finish that would mark the franchise’s worst record by winning percentage since 2000.
None of our staff have New England winning the division, and only two — Finn and Price — foresee a playoff berth.
Who are the new players on the Patriots to watch? — 3:15 p.m.
The Patriots made two notable additions to their skill positions this summer, and all eyes will be on receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday.
After an up-and-down stint in Pittsburgh to start his career, which included a Pro Bowl appearance in 2018 before a handful of underwhelming and injury-plagued seasons, Smith-Schuster signed with the Chiefs last year and contributed to a Super Bowl win. In New England, he becomes perhaps Mac Jones’s top target — especially in replacing Jakobi Meyers, and with DeVante Parker not expected to play Sunday — but has never been a true No. 1 option.
Elliott has long been one of the most high-profile running backs in the league, making three Pro Bowls and rushing for over 1,000 yards and at least 10 touchdowns on four occasions each, including 12 scores just last season. That all came behind a Cowboys offensive line that was perennially among the best in the NFL, and before all that mileage could catch up with him; in a different role and different blockers, how much does Elliott have left in the tank?
Patriots inactives are out — 3:00 p.m.
The Patriots just announced their inactives for today’s game:
- G Cole Strange
- WR DeVante Parker
- G Michael Onwenu
- OLB Anfernee Jennings
- DT Sam Roberts
- CB Shaun Wade
Takeaways from the inactives:
• Guard Cole Strange has been struggling with a knee issue all summer, and so his presence here is no surprise. Between Strange and Mike Onwenu (ankle) being sidelined, the Patriots will have to rely on a series of rookies to provide protection for Mac Jones this afternoon, including Atonio Mafi. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see New England use tight end Pharaoh Brown as an extra blocker off the edge.
• DeVante Parker has been on the injury report with a knee issue, which means New England will have to dip into its receiver depth; while there are a few possibilities, based on their body type, I’d look for Kayshon Boutte to get some reps in place of Parker.
• Linebacker Anfernee Jennings is also among the inactives. A victim of too much talent on the edge, the likes of Josh Uche, Keion White, and others are good to go in his place. Defensive tackle Sam Roberts and cornerback Shaun Wade are also among those who are the victim of a numbers game coming into this afternoon’s action.
• It’s worth noting that several rookies are active, including Mafi, White, Boutte, cornerback Christian Gonzalez, and wide receiver Demario Douglas. In addition, kicker Chad Ryland and punter Bryce Baringer are set to make their NFL debuts this afternoon.
• One other possible combination along the offensive line would be veteran tackle Calvin Anderson at right tackle, while rookie Sidy Sow could play right guard. (Sow has played a lot of tackle this summer, but was a guard in college.) — Christopher Price
Eagles inactives — 3:00 p.m.
The Eagles will be without:
- RB Rashaad Penny
- CB Mario Goodrich
- CB Eli Ricks
- G Tyler Steen
- DT Moro Ojomo
- TE Albert Okwuegbunam
- QB Tanner McKee
Spotted: TB12 — 2:50 p.m.
Where is Matt Corral? — 2:45 p.m.
The Patriots’ backup quarterback situation has been a bit of a rollercoaster over the last couple of weeks, as Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham were both waived and then signed to the practice squad, Matt Corral was picked up off waivers, and eventually Zappe was re-signed to the 53-man roster and Corral was initially thought to have been released.
Reports have instead surfaced that Corral was not released but placed on the exempt/left squad list, as the former Panthers draft pick had not appeared for meetings or practices over the last couple of days.
This has led to some concern about Corral’s well-being without much explanation over his status and situation, which remains unclear as of Sunday morning.
Who will fill the hole left by Jack Jones? — 2:40 p.m.
Without injured cornerback Jack Jones, the Patriots’ secondary depth will be tested. Veteran Jonathan Jones and rookie Christian Gonzalez are projected starters on the perimeter, with Marcus Jones, Myles Bryant, Shaun Wade, and Ameer Speed available as backups. Marcus Jones (5 feet 8 inches) and Bryant (5-9) function best out of the slot, given their size. Wade has nominal NFL experience, while Speed, a sixth-round pick, made the team more as a special teamer and is still a developmental player on the defensive side.
Opposing receivers will certainly challenge the Patriots, as A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Garrett Wilson, and CeeDee Lamb are on the schedule during Jack Jones’s absence.
Patriots injuries to watch — 2:35 p.m.
The inactives for Game 1 will be out shortly. The last injury report, sent Friday afternoon, has the following players listed as questionable:
- Mike Onwenu
- DeVante Parker
- Rhamondre Stevenson
- Cole Strange
NFL Network reports Stevenson is likely to play, and Parker is not.
Patriots will be without Jack Jones — 2:30 p.m.
Jack Jones has had a strange summer, mostly spent dealing with the fallout of his June arrest at Logan Airport and subsequent weapons charges; those charges were unexpectedly dropped Tuesday, seemingly clearing the way for second-year corner to re-establish himself as a starter.
Instead, the Patriots are likely to be without Jones for an extended period after he was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury which reportedly could keep him out for a matter of months rather than weeks.
‘Sure, he did some other things.’ — 2:20 p.m.
By Kevin Paul Dupont
Tom Brady’s time in Foxborough, where he turned the NFL record book into a lesson in new math and hoarded Super Bowl rings like Beanie Baby collectibles, on Sunday will be the centerpiece celebration of the Patriots’ season opener at Gillette Stadium.
Over the course of 20 seasons (2000-19), Brady went from that unknown face auditioning among Patriots quarterbacks to become the face of the franchise, if not the entire sport. Now 46 years old, he is also in an exclusive class of athletes who, no matter where their playing days led from here, their identity will be forever Boston.
Brady’s three years in Tampa? That seventh shimmering, diamond-encrusted ring with the Buccaneers? Mere footnotes at the bottom of Brady’s pigskin curriculum vitae.
“Absolutely, I mean, as far as I’m concerned, Tom Brady’s a Patriot,” said Fred Lynn, who forged his Forever Boston bona fides during his heralded run with the 1970s Red Sox, which began with MVP and American League Rookie of the Year honors in ‘75. “Yeah, sure, he did some other things, but that’s not who he is, that’s somebody else. He’s Tom Brady. He’s a Patriot.”
In recent days, the Globe contacted Lynn, Ray Bourque, and Drew Bledsoe, all of whom played elsewhere after here, and all remembered first and foremost for their days wearing local colors. All three agreed that Brady’s enduring legacy will be the things he did in a Patriots uniform, just as they feel that the days they spent here will stand as the defining times of their careers.
“Let’s just get this straight from the start,” said Bourque, laughing as he returned a call to discuss the topic, “I’m no Tom Brady.”
Is the feud between JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Eagles in the past? — 2:10 p.m.
When the NFL schedule was announced in May, Patriots receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster could only laugh. Thursday, when asked about the Patriots’ opponent this Sunday, Smith-Schuster again couldn’t stop chuckling.
Of all the teams the NFL could have scheduled for the Patriots’ Week 1 opener, of course it was the Eagles.
“It was actually funny, because I definitely didn’t expect to play them in the first game,” Smith-Schuster told the Globe. “At the same time, just super excited to go back against them, a really great team. I think it’s a great test for us as the Patriots to go out there and see where we’re at.”
The NFL scheduled a few rivalry games for Week 1 — Bears vs. Packers, Raiders vs. Broncos, Giants vs. Cowboys, Bills vs. Jets. But no rivalry on Sunday may be spicier than Smith-Schuster vs. the Eagles.
The rivalry has nothing to do with the Patriots, who haven’t faced the Eagles since 2019. Instead, it’s strictly between Smith-Schuster and the Eagles, who didn’t appreciate how Smith-Schuster handled himself after winning the Super Bowl with the Chiefs in February.
Meet the Eagles — 2:00 p.m.
The defending NFC champion Eagles are in town. Here are the players to keep your eye on:
QB Jalen Hurts: Philadelphia’s quarterback made the leap in his third season in 2022, throwing for 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions and rushing for 13 touchdowns to finish as the runner-up to Patrick Mahomes in MVP voting last season. Hurts’s dual-threat proficiency kept defenses off-balance every week en route to a 14-1 record in 15 starts, and broke out as one of the most electric players in the league last season. Stopping the Eagles on Sunday starts with their star signal-caller.
WRs AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith: Hurts’s breakout season was helped by an absurdly talented tandem at receiver, as Brown and Smith made up one of the NFL’s very best wideout duos last season in combining for 2,692 yards and 18 touchdowns. Brown was a second-team All-Pro last season who is as un-coverable as they come, and he was well-complemented by the slender but surprisingly physical Smith whose hands and route-running are already at an elite level at 24.
DT Jalen Carter: The Georgia star’s legal issues saw him slip in the draft, gifting GM Howie Roseman and an already-stacked roster with a blue-chip talent at No. 9. Carter has the potential to be a game-plan wrecker inside, the sort of defensive tackle that opens up opportunities for pass rushers — like star linebacker Haason Reddick, who had 16 sacks last season — and can blow holes in the interior in the run game. He’s just a rookie, but Carter has been the talk of training camp; Patriots center David Andrews and whoever lines up either side of him on Sunday will have to keep an eye out.
Weather report — 1:40 p.m.
Sunday’s game is expected to kick off under cloudy skies with temperatures in Foxborough in the high 70s. There is some possibility of rain either side of kickoff, but nothing that should affect the season opener too significantly — Tom Brady might just need an umbrella for his halftime ceremony.
Three hours until game time — 1:25 p.m.
Kickoff is fast approaching for the Patriots. Here’s your pregame reading list.
- Tom Brady is returning to Foxborough. Here’s how to watch.
- ‘Sure, he did some other things.’ Three Boston stars know Tom Brady will always be a Patriot first.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster out to prove he’s still a ‘reliable guy’ in his first season with the Patriots
- Patriots elevate quarterback Bailey Zappe to 53-man roster, release Matt Corral
- Trying to make sense out of all the broadcasting changes and viewership options as the NFL season begins
- Is the feud between JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Eagles in the past? We should find out on Sunday.
- If the offense is merely competent, the Patriots will be much better this season. But their schedule is brutal, starting with the Eagles.
- Why does the Chiefs’ loss matter to the Patriots? Because it proves there are no unbeatable teams in the NFL.
Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com. Christopher Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @cpriceglobe. Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.Follow her @nicolecyang. Matt Pepin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Katie McInerney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her @k8tmac.