The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

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

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