COMMISSIONER GOES TO WATCH PATRIOTS’ PRESEASON OPENER
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell watched the Patriots’ exhibition opener.
It was his first game in New England since suspending quarterback Tom Brady in the scandal that came to be known as “Deflategate.”
Goodell was in Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s luxury suite as the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars started, according to a photograph posted on Twitter by The Boston Globe. Patriots spokesman Stacey James confirmed to The Associated Press that Goodell was at the game.
Goodell suspended Brady four games after an NFL investigation concluded that he conspired to use illegally underinflated footballs in the 2015 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
New England fans rallied to their quarterback’s defense and lashed out at Goodell for the harsh penalty that was based on dubious evidence. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl anyway — Brady’s fifth.
On Thursday, Chad Henne hit Keelan Cole on a 97yard touchdown pass, Corey Grant scored on a 79-yard run and Jacksonville feasted on a Patriots lineup without Brady and Rob Gronkowski — or much defense at all — to beat the defending NFL champions 31-24.
With the reigning Super Bowl MVP sitting out, Jimmy Garoppolo completed a Brady-like 22-of-28 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots’ heir apparent completed 13 straight passes at one point.
Top pick Garrett shines.
Myles Garrett showed flashes of dominance in his NFL exhibition debut, and Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer threw a late touchdown pass and the Browns beat New Orleans 20-14 while Saints stars Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson watched. The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Garrett had a tackle for loss and blazed off the edge to pressure Saints backup QB Garrett Grayson in the first half.
• Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater need not rush back from injury after Case Keenum showed glimpses of being a capable backup in the Vikings’ 17-10 preseason-opening win over the Bills. Taking over for starter Sam Bradford, Keenum went 11-of-16 for 121 yards. Buffalo starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor played three series and hit 5-of-8 attempts for 46 yards.
• Now the NFL’s highest-paid running back, Devonta Freeman looked the part in a brief appearance, scoring on a 15-yard reception from Matt Ryan as the Atlanta Falcons lost to the Miami Dolphins 23-20. Freeman, who agreed to terms Wednesday on a $41.25 million, five-year contract extension, scored to cap the Falcons’ first preseason possession. The Dolphins’ exhibition season began badly. Second-round draft pick Raekwon McMillan, the front-runner to start at middle linebacker, hurt his right knee on Roberts’ punt return and walked to the locker room accompanied by trainers.
• Ryan Mallett struggled in place of injured quarterback Joe Flacco, throwing for only 58 yards while playing the entire first half, but the Ravens still beat the Redskins 23-3 in a sloppy game. — The Associated Press