Kelly gets a Blount (re)introduction from Patriots in preseason opener
While the fans’ eyes were on Tom Brady and his new complement of receivers, LeGarrette Blount’s eyes were on the end zone.
The Patriots’ fourth-year running back gained 101 yards and scored two touchdowns, including a 51-yard scoring run, in New England’s 31-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason opener for both teams Friday night.
It was also the NFL’s first look at Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who grew up in Manchester. Football fans wondered what Kelly, who ran a high-tempo, hurry-up offense at the University of Oregon, would do in the NFL.
But in his NFL coaching debut, Kelly was not in a hurry to show more than he had to in a preseason game.
The Patriots got the ball first and scored a touchdown in 3 minutes, 12 seconds. New England needed only four plays, keyed by Stevan Ridley’s 62-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Ridley finished the drive with a one-yard scoring run.
That set the stage for Kelly’s NFL debut on offense.
On the Eagles’ first possession, quarterback Michael Vick had the offense huddle up between plays, and the time between the end of the first play and the snap of the second was a pedestrian 25 seconds. Hardly a blur.
However, the Eagles were impressive on the drive, going 77 yards in five plays and scoring on a 47-yard touchdown from Vick to DeSean Jackson.
New England scored on its second posession, a 10-play drive capped by a 13-yard pass from Brady to Shane Vereen.
Brady left the game after that second drive, having completed seven of eight passes for 65 yards.
After Nick Foles replaced Vick, the Eagles at least did go to a no-huddle on a possession that began with 14:05 left in the second quarter. Coaches on the sideline made baseball-type signals to call the plays. While this did prevent New England from substituting on defense, the Eagles’ pace — averaging about 21 seconds between snaps — was hardly reminiscent of the breath-taking shows Kelly put on at Oregon.
Still, the offense was effective. The Eagles drove 66 yards in 10 plays with running back Bryce Brown scoring on an eight-yard run up the middle. With 10:37 left in the second quarter, Kelly had at least unveiled the no-huddle part of his attack, albeit at a normal NFL pace, and, the score was tied, 14-14.
New England scored the last 10 points of the quarter on Blount’s 51-yard run and a Stephen Gostkowski 34-yard field goal.
Blount scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter to give New England a 31-14 lead.
Philadelphia closed out the scoring with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Matt Barkley to Greg Salas. The Eagles went for two and succeded.
As for Brady’s new receivers, he connected with Kenbrell Thompkins three times for 17 yards on New England’s second touchdown drive. Brady also hit rookie Aaron Dobson down the field for 23 yards.
The Pats play their second preseason game next Friday at home against Tampa Bay.