Brady is back and all is well in Patriots’ world

Any New England Patriots fan will tell you this was the preseason game that counted the most.

Yes, Thursday night’s encounter at Gillette Stadium with the Philadelphia Eagles had a wee bit more interesting fragments than last week’s snoozer vs. Washington. They say the third week is the one to watch, but Patriot fans got to see their dramatic TB 12 in actual game action for the first time since that ill-fated Super Bowl LII.

And, of course, who was the opponent then? Why those same Eagles, of course. And yes, MVP Nick Foles was at the controls. And yes, a roar came from the crowd when Tom Brady took the field with just over a minute gone in the first quarter. His first pass? A 6-yard completion to running back James White.

Get used to it, Patriot fans. With the receivers New England will have to start the season, White and Gronkowski look to be the main targets.

And Chris Hogan, who caught Brady’s 4-yard TD pass. So Brady’s first drive was eight plays, 62 yards, taking 3:30 off the clock. His final numbers for a 27-7 half’s work: 19 of 26 for 172 yards and two touchdowns.

Who needs OTA’s?

“I feel good,” Brady said earlier in the week. “I feel really good. …

“This team needs a great quarterback and you know, hopefully I can go out and be that.”

And, after the 37-20 game, Brady added, “I think this is all just part of the growth process. It feels good to win, but there’s certainly a lot of things we’ve got to do better. …Whoever’s out there the last three weeks, you’re just trying to get on the same page.”

It beat watching Brian Hoyer. Brady’s opening drive: 5-of-5 for 27 yards and a touchdown. Later, He and Julian Edelman connected on an 8-yard completion with 7:37 left in the opening quarter. Fans roared with that one, too.

Brady certainly wasn’t perfect. He appeared to underthrow Phillip Dorsett on a deep ball and overthrew Cordarrelle Patterson over the middle on the Patriots’ second possession. Then couldn’t connect with Chris Hogan on a deep ball, the play broken up and nearly picked off by Eagle DB Ronald Darby.

But is anybody really worried?

Just the sight of Brady throwing to anyone had to make Patriots fans happy. All the off-season drama, speculation, etc., took a back seat to something different: something that actually took place on a football field. What a concept.

Of course one frightening sight for Patriots fans was Brady scrambling in the pocket before finding a wide open Hogan over the middle. Hogan dropped the pass. Not good for a guy who is having trouble negotiating a contract extension (he’s up after this year).

Now remember, fans, this is not your normal Patriot offense. It’s as vanilla as the ice cream served in the media pre-game meal. The Patriots will have many things up their collective sleeve once the season begins. And remember, once again the other Patriot drama king, tight end Rob Gronkowski, did not play. A wise choice.

“There’s not a ton of game-planning for these games,” Brady said. “The preparation is mostly about us … A lot of it is kind of second nature at this point. Still you’ve got to see yourself do it and kind of get the instincts back.”

Yes TB 12 was back. And he should be well protected this year, as one of the biggest stories in camp – literally – is 6-8, 370-pound left tackle Trent Brown. He has had a fabulous camp and could make many forget a guy he is making about $20 million a year less than – the now New York Giant Nate Solder.

“Trent,” Brady said post game, “has come in and earned everyone’s trust.”

But seeing potential right tackle rookie Isaiah Wynn, the team’s top pick this past April, go down with an ankle injury in the first half was not a good sight. That means both of this year’s first rounders (running back Sony Michel has a knee issue) are on the shelf.

Brady ended his night by taking the Patriots 69 yards in 59 seconds, hitting White on a 20-yard quick pass.

Conversely, Brady’s Super Bowl counterpart, Foles, was done with a strained shoulder after an Adrian Clayborn strip-sack/Ja’Whaun Bentley 54-yard TD play.

It just shows the risk playing your starting quarterback a lot in the preseason. Tom Brady was back for the Patriots. He threw, they scored. No drama.

Put him back on the sidelines until September 9.

Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,, or @Telegraph_TomK.