FOXBORO –- If you were jonesing to see the Patriots offense, the first quarter was a good one for you.
New England ran 29 plays in a flag-filled quarter and ended the first 15 minutes up 14-7.
Tom Brady took the Patriots first two drives, Jimmy Garoppolo got the next two and Ryan Mallett got to watch as the New England offense strung some plays together against an Eagles defense that looked very good during joint practices this week.
Here’s what we saw.
The Patriots started with Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman as wideouts and tight end Steve Maneri on the field along with fullback James Develin.
The offensive line to start was Dan Connolly at center, Jordan Devey at right guard, Logan Mankins at left guard and Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer at the tackles.
When the Patriots went to four wides, it was Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell in with Thompkins and Edelman.
The Patriots ran 23 plays with Brady under center. Their first drive was flavored with a nice third-down conversion after being backed into a second-and-13. Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins for 6 and Edelman for 7 for the pickup. Brady also hit Amendola with a 9-yard completion on third-and-4 for another conversion.
The Patriots got to the Eagles 30 before Brady, on a first-and-10, threw outside to tight end Steve Maneri who didn’t expect the pass. It was picked by Cary Williams who took it back for a score despite the best effort of Brady to knock Williams out of bounds. Williams blew his hamstring on the return and was questionable to return.
The flags flew on the Patriots second drive. Five penalties were called on the Eagles. Through the haze of yellow fabric, rookie running back James White was seen doing little with his second professional game action. But Brady got a swing pass off to the right flat to jump start the drive with Shane Vereen getting a nice downfield block from Julian Edelman and picking up 12. Vereen got another 9 on a throw from Brady before a 26 yard pass interference call on the Eagles got the ball down to the Philly 11. Bill Belichick, bemoaning something, appeared to get flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalty (the officials never mentioned the offender) moved the ball to the Eagles 26. The drive was punctuated by a terrific back-shoulder completion to Thompkins for the score from 15 yards away.
The Eagles burped it up on the first play of their first drive with Malcolm Butler stripping Ian Momah on a quick slant.
Jimmy Garoppolo took over after that and -- running with the 1s -- produced a touchdown with a four-play drive finding James Develin in the left flat wide open for a 15-yard score.
ALSO IN THE QUARTER…
The Patriots shuffled things up significantly on the line with Marcus Cannon taking snaps at left tackle, Josh Kline at left guard and Ryan Wendell in at center for Connolly.
Defensively, Kyle Arrington had the safety start next to McCourty. Jamie Collins and Donta Hightower were at linebacker. The Patriots were very inventive with their fronts and pressures in terms of personnel and we’ll have to take a longer look at the DVR to see who the hell was where. Sorry.
* James White got a look in a third-down situation and made good. He took a handoff out of the shotgun and moved his tacklers forward for a first down. Otherwise, he didn't seem to create much yardage after contact.
* Garoppolo appeared to move pretty well out of the pocket. He eluded an Eagles rush and nearly hit Kenbrell Thompkins on the sideline for a solid gain but Thompkins couldn't get his toes down in bounds on the ball thrown a touch wide.
* Garoppolo lofted another nice deep pass to LaFell near the sideline. Same good touch we saw last week against the Redskins and in practices this past week. Nice route by LaFell to sell the inside move and then fade out to the sideline.
* Brandon Bolden made a couple of nice hard runs early in the quarter -- one to the outside for a good gain and one tough one-yard run for a first down with Eagles defenders converging on him. Bolden hasn't done much to open eyes during practices in camp but showed good burst on that first drive of the quarter.
* Ridley fumbled at the end of a short second-down run. James Develin was right there to fall on the ball. Unclear as to whether or not it was a result of his fumble or just part of the original Patriots plan, but Ridley did not see any snaps in the remainder of the half.
* Garoppolo steps up and hits LaFell in the back of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown to finish off a 13-play drive that traveled 75 yards in just over six minutes. LaFell showed nice concentration to haul in the pass that was tipped by corner Curtis Marsh.
* Kyle Arrington continues to play safety next to McCourty on Philly's first drive of the second. Same 3-4 look we saw in the first quarter with Hightower and Collins in the middle and Jones and Ninkovich on the edges. Tommy Kelly, Vince Wilfork and Joe Vellano were the defensive linemen.
* Patriots were gashed by two long plays to start the Eagles drive. Brent Celek ran by Dont'a Hightower for a long gain going across the middle and LeSean McCoy took a run to the outside for a first-down run.
* Patrick Chung, in at safety for Arrington, appeared to make a good breakup of a Nick Foles pass to Zach Ertz but was called for an illegal contact penalty -- the first for the Patriots on the night. (The Eagles haven't been so lucky, racking up illegal contact and defensive holding penalties at an alarming rate in the first half.)
* Interesting to see the Patriots find a way to get Boyce's hands on the ball. He decent quick burst on a wide receiver screen, but it resulted in a short gain.
* Ryan Allen had his punt blocked when Arrelious Benn ran by long-snapper Tyler Ott, the Harvard garduate.
* Patrick Chung laid the biggest hit of the night on Brent Celek when he and Butler teamed up to awkwardly take down the Philadelphia tight end. Celek gave a roar as he got to his feet.
* Foles found Ertz for a six-yard touchdown with Chung in coverage.
* Marcus Cannon had a rough ensuing drive. He was called for an illegal roll block and then called for an illegal hands to the face soon thereafter.
* Mark Sanchez sighting at the end of the half. He looked very smooth running Philadelphia's two-minute drill and finished off the drive with a touchdown pass that bounced off the hands of a diving Ifeanyi Momah and into the hands of Benn.
* A 31-yard kickoff return by Roy Finch elicited a brief attaboy from Belichick on the sideline.