By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
August 22, 2003

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PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The Patriots went into the locker room with a 17-3 halftime lead and didn't look back, beating the Eagles 24-12 at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday night.

New England quarterback Tom Brady tossed three touchdown passes and had a solid outing finishing 14-of-24 for 148-yards and no interceptions.

In a game that most coaches will say is the one that is the most important of the exhibition season, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick played his starters well into the third quarter. The extra work seemed to pay off as the New England offense looked sharp, marching down the field on their opening possession of the third quarter and finishing with a 12-play 61-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady to tight-end Daniel Graham.

Wide receiver David Patten accounted for the other two touchdowns, hauling in grabs from Brady of 21 and 12-yards and finishing with 5-catches for 81-yards on the evening.

Meanwhile in his first game in a Patriots uniform after New England acquired him earlier in the week via trade, defensive lineman Ted Washington had an impressive outing. Although he finished with just one solo and one combined tackle for the evening, he pushed the Eagles offensive line back and collapsed the pocket. The defensive ends and linebackers spent much of the first half harassing Donovan McNabb and sacked him three times. Philadelphia also converted just 1-of-6 third downs in the 1st half (17%).

Philadelphia caught a break on the Patriots first drive of the game after New England drove down to the Eagles 27-yard line. Runningback Kevin Faulk coughed up the football and Philadelphia recovered, ending a potential scoring threat by the Patriots.

But New England's defense got the ball right back, sacking McNabb and forcing a fumble that linebacker Roman Phifer recovered.

The Patriots then got a 38-yard pass interference penalty on Troy Vincent which gave New England 1st and 10 at the Eagles 22-yard line. Two plays later David Patten hauled in a perfectly thrown 21-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to give the Patriots an early 7-0 lead.

After the Eagles went three-and-out, the Patriots also failed to convert on third down and Ken Walter came on to punt. Lito Sheppard then fumbled the catch and was pushed out of the way by Chris Akens. Linebacker Don Davis recovered at the Eagles 14-yard line, and Adam Vinatieri would later convert a 27-yard field goal to extend the Patriots lead to 10-0 with 1:20 left in the first quarter.

Philadelphia later forced a fumble by Brady when he was sacked and had the ball punched out. The Eagles then turned around and drove down to the Patriots 20 but failed to convert a 3rd-and-6 after Philadelphia wide receiver James Thrash was cut down by Ty Law. Thrash would reportedly suffer head and neck injuries on the play and was carted off the field on a stretcher. He was reportedly taken in for X-rays which were negative. The Eagles would then convert a 38-yard field goal to cut the lead to 10-3.

The Patriots took over with 4:31 remaining and engineered a 13-play, 74-yard drive which ended with a 12-yard touchdown play with :24 left in the half. Damon Huard started the drive, but on the fourth play Tom Brady returned to work on New England's 2:00 minute offense and executed it perfectly to lead the team into the locker room with a 17-3 lead.

The Patriots final points came at the beginning of the 3rd quarter when Brady marched them down the field on a 12-play 61-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown catch by Daniel Graham with 9:21 left in the 3rd quarter.

Akers would add a field goal to put the score at 24-6 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and on New England's next possession Ivory McCoy picked off Damon Huard for a 66-yard interception return for a touchdown. The two point conversion would fail, and that would be it for Philadelphia on the evening.

The team will now return home to prepare for the Chicago Bears who will visit Gillette Stadium next Wednesday night in Foxboro.

GAME NOTES: J.R. Redmond and Tyrone Poole did not see any action against the Eagles on Friday night…….Antwoine Womack, Damien Woody, Kenyatta Jones, Bethel Johnson, and David Givens were all listed as "inactive"…..The Patriots watched their two back-up centers get banged up on Friday night, with Dan Koppen and Bill Conaty both suffering injuries against the Eagles and leaving the game. Russ Hochstein came in and played in place of the two injured players.


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