Patriots' Tom Brady makes strong preseason debut against Eagles

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The NFL's reigning Most Valuable Player picked up where he left off, as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his preseason debut Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, played deep into the first half of the 37-20 win, and finished 19-of-26 for 172 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

In all, Brady led six drives, the first of which culminated in a 4-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chris Hogan. Brady was 5-for-5 on the opening drive, executing mostly shorter passes.

"Tom did a nice job. We've been competitive here," coach Bill Belichick said at halftime on the team's television broadcast on WBZ-TV, as the Patriots led 27-7 at the break.

Brady, who had been managing a sore back, did not play in the preseason opener Aug. 9 against the Washington Redskins. The home crowd welcomed him back Thursday night, at one point chanting, "Brady! Brady! Brady!"

"It's the first time having to do that in about six months," Brady said after Brian Hoyer wrapped up the victory. "I feel like my timing could be better in certain areas. I've been doing this for a long time, so a lot of it is second nature at this point."

Before the game, Brady took the field before warm-ups -- which he seldom does -- and spent a minute or so talking to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz at midfield. Brady, who never connected with Eagles quarterback Nick Foles after Super Bowl LII, might have been looking for Foles as well, but Foles wasn't on the field at that time.

Foles ended up getting knocked out of Thursday night's preseason game because of a strained right shoulder, but he and Brady did finally connect after the game.