It's been 193 days since Tom Brady last faced off against Nick Foles. That happened to be Super Bowl LII, where the Eagles outlasted the Patriots, 41-33, and Foles earned MVP honors. The stakes aren't quite as high in this mid-August rematch, at least for the veteran quarterbacks, but both players are making their preseason debuts after missing Week 1 with injuries.
In the two other Thursday-night get-togethers, Aaron Rodgers makes his debut for the Packers after sitting out last week while both Ben Roethlisberger and his backup, Landry Jones, won't play for the Steelers. In Washington, D.C, another strong showing by No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold could solidify his place as the Jets' starting quarterback. Meanwhile, the Redskins will begin to sort out the muddled-again running back position after losing rookie Derrius Guice to an ACL injury last week.
For all the scores, highlights and takeaways from Week 2 of the preseason, make sure to keep reading.
Kansas City at Atlanta, 7 p.m. ET (GameTracker)
N.Y. Giants at Detroit, 7 p.m. ET (GameTracker)
Buffalo at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network (GameTracker)
Miami at Carolina, 7:30 p.m. ET (GameTracker)
Arizona at New Orleans, 8 p.m. ET (GameTracker)
Jacksonville at Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET, NFL Network (GameTracker)
Oakland at L.A. Rams, 4 p.m. ET, NFL Network (GameTracker)
Cincinnati at Dallas, 7 p.m. ET, NFL Network (GameTracker)
Tampa Bay at Tennessee, 7 p.m. ET (GameTracker)
San Francisco at Houston, 8 p.m. ET (GameTracker)
Chicago at Denver, 9:05 p.m. ET (GameTracker)
Seattle at L.A. Chargers, 10 p.m. ET (GameTracker)
As expected, Tom Brady is in midseason form
The Patriots' 41-year-old future Hall of Fame quarterback showed no signs of rust in his first series of the preseason. Brady didn't play in Week 1 and skipped voluntary workouts this offseason. But none of those missed reps mattered in New England's first offensive series against the Eagles. Brady went 5 for 5 for 27 yards, with James White hauling in three of those passes and Chris Hogan finishing things up with a four-yard touchdown catch.
The only controversy came three plays before the touchdown when Eagles safety Rodney McLeod was flagged for violating the new helmet-to-helmet rule:
When the Patriots' announcers are skeptical about a call that favors the hometown team, you know things aren't going as planned. The NFL has three more weeks of preseason games to sort this out though it seems like things will get worse before they get better.
Brady played the entire first half and when he was done he had completed 19 of 26 passes for 172 yards, 2 touchdowns, no turnovers and a passer rating of 116.2. He found seven different receivers, including White, who had six catches for 61 yards, including this nifty 20-yard score with 52 seconds left in the first half.
Nick Foles' shoulder injury punctuates uneven outing
For as good as Tom Brady was in the first quarter, Nick Foles looked every bit the veteran journeyman quarterback who wasn't taken seriously until he led the Eagles to the Super Bowl during a four-week stretch in January and February.
On Thursday, Foles' first two drives combined for negative-11 yards. The offense managed nine yards on drive No. 3, but things got decidedly worse a series later. Facing a second-and-8 from the Patriots' 38-yard line, Foles was rocked by defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
Adding insult to injury, Foles injured his shoulder on the play, though it's not thought to be serious. (The Eagles listed him as questionable to return with a shoulder strain; we're guessing his evening is over.)
Foles' first-half stats looked nothing like his MVP effort against the Patriots in Super Bowl LII: 3 for 9, 44 yards, 3 sacks, a fumble, and a passer rating of 50.2.
Aaron Rodgers previews life with Jimmy Graham
Rodgers played just seven games last season because of a shoulder injury, but against the Steelers he looked like just like the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback who led Green Bay to eight straight playoff appearances between 2009-16. Yes, he only played one series, but we learned that this offense could be even more explosive with the addition of tight end Jimmy Graham, who outmuscled Steelers first-round pick Terrell Edmunds for an eight-yard touchdown grab that gave the Packers a 14-0 lead barely three minutes into the game.
Rodgers' backups, first Brett Hundley and then DeShone Kizer, had solid evenings too. Hundley finished 6 of 9 for 77 yards and Kizer, who was the Browns' 2017 second-round pick, threw this touchdown pass late in the first half to give Green Bay a 34-14 lead:
But the Packers' defense may have been the most impressive; the unit, which ranked 20th in efficiency last season, according to Football Outsiders' metrics (eighth against the run, 27th against the pass), spent much of the evening smothering the Steelers' offense. Yes, Pittsburgh was without Ben Roethilsberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, and rookie Mason Rudolph got his first NFL start, but there was a lot to like if you're Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy.
Both halves started with pick-sixes. You can see Rudolph's below on the very first pass of the game. Not to be outdone, Rudolph's replacement, Joshua Dobbs, also saw his first throw of the third quarter go the other way for six:
That's Joshua Jackson, the Packers' second-round pick in 2018, who could be a key cog in one of the NFL's best young secondaries.
Meanwhile, the Steelers accomplished little else between those two throws. The offense managed just seven first-half first downs, was 0 of 6 on third down, averaged four yards per play, and Rudolph was sacked three times.
The Vikings may have won the division last season, and they may be among the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in 2018, but with the return of Rodgers, and the possibility of a much-improved defense, the Packers could again be a playoff team.
Mason Rudolph starts for Steelers, promptly throws pick-six
The Steelers selected Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and with Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones not playing in Green Bay, he earned his first NFL start. And on his very first pass of the evening he threw a touchdown pass ... to the Packers.
Ultimately, that one play means little; Rudolph, like every other rookie quarterback in the history of the National Football League, is far from a finished product in his very first preseason. As it stands, he's the Steelers' No. 3 quarterback, likely ahead of 2017 fourth-rounder Josh Dobbs, and he'll need to play much better to make a run at Jones' role as Big Ben's backup.
Sam Darnold comes back to Earth, Teddy Bridgewater sharp again
While coach Todd Bowles won't come out and say it, the Jets starting quarterback job is Darnold's to lose. The No. 3 overall pick looked really good in his Week 1 debut, when he went 13 of 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown. He started against the Redskins on Thursday and was an efficient 8 of 11 for 62 yards. But Washington's front seven pressured him on many of those dropbacks, which led to two sacks.
Darnold's biggest mistake came late in the second quarter when he forced a throw into coverage that was intercepted:
But just like a week ago, Darnold also showed why he went so high in the draft, and why he has a very good chance to win the starting job:
You can watch every one of Darnold's throws right here.
Bridgewater, meanwhile, had little trouble carving up the Redskins' second- and third-team defense, and despite throwing just two passes the last two seasons, looked like the same, agile-in-the-pocket-and-mobile-outside-of-it quarterback that was originally the Vikings' first-round pick.
And that was a preview for this fourth-quarter touchdown pass:
Bridgewater did throw an interception midway through the final quarter, but he still finished 9 of 14 for 110 yards. And if Darnold does indeed earn the No. 1 job, don't be surprised if the Jets trade Bridgewater to a team in desperate need of starting-quality quarterback.