By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
August 18, 2002

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FOXBORO, MA -- The Patriots overcame three first half turnovers en-route to a 16-15 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at New England's brand new Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Saturday night.

Quarterback Tom Brady had a rough outing, throwing two interceptions during that first half, including one in the endzone which ended a potential scoring drive.  Brady finished the night 11-of-19 for 116 yards, with a dismal quarterback rating of 36.2,   Wide receiver Deion Branch accounted for the other turnover, fumbling on a first down pass from the Patriots own 9-yard line which lead to a Philadelphia field goal.

The good news was Saturday's game saw the return of wide receiver Troy Brown and tight end and 1st round draft choice Daniel Graham.  Neither player started the game, but Brown took the field alongside Branch and finished with two catches for 32-yards.  Graham was held without a reception.

For the second straight game New England's first offense was unable to reach the endzone, and were absolutely dismal on third down.  They went 0-for-5 on third down in the first half, including an interception on a 3rd-and-3 play from the Eagles 11-yard line when Brady under threw a fade pattern to receiver Donald Hayes in the corner of the endzone.  Lito Sheppard stepped in front and took the ball away, ending a potential scoring drive for the Patriots.

New England finally reached the endzone in the third quarter when second-string quarterback Damon Huard helped put together a 12-play 64-yard drive that lasted over 7-minutes.  During that span Kevin Faulk carried 6-times for 31-yards, and the drive ended when Faulk took the ball in from one yard out to put the Patriots up 10-6 with 6:35 left in the third quarter.

However the Eagles answered on the ensuing possession, driving 66-yards on 13-plays which helped set up a 23-yard field goal to help Philadelphia pull within one point at 10-9 with :25 left in the third quarter.

The Patriots added two more field goals on their next two possessions, pushing their lead to 16-9 with 3:41 left in the game, and got the ball back when Sheppard fumbled the ensuing kickoff return and New England recovered, giving them the ball on the Philadelphia 29-yard line.  However Adam Vinatieri appeared to be favoring his left foot following the kickoff and when the Patriots drive stalled, Vinatieri missed a 41-yard field goal wide left.

The Eagles dodged a bullet, and took advantage of their opportunity.  They drove 69-yards on 9-plays and added insult to injury when they connected with former Patriot Sean Morey for the touchdown to pull within one with just under two minutes left in the game.  Head coach Andy Ried decided to go for the win following the score, but their two point conversion failed.

On the ensuing kickoff the Eagles attempted an onside kick, and after recovering the kickoff were called for illegal touching after the ball hit Sean Scott before it went 10-yards.  The play was reviewed but the call was upheld, and Philadelphia was forced to try again. But they would recover again, giving them one final chance to win the football game.

However it was the Patriots defense that would come up big, sacking A.J. Feeley with 10-seconds left in the game, and with no time-outs New England was able to escape with their first ever preseason victory at their new stadium.

The Patriots will now spend this week preparing for the Carolina Panthers who will come to town on Friday night.  Game time is at 8:00pm.


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