Tom Brady looked sharp in his preseason debut, throwing a 33-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan in helping the Patriots to a 19-17 preseason win over the Panthers on Friday night.
Brady relieved Jimmy Garoppolo late in the first quarter and completed a 37-yard pass to Aaron Dobson on his first play from scrimmage, leading to a field goal. On his second drive Brady heaved an over-the-shoulder pass to Hogan down the right sideline for a 9-0 lead. Brady's other two drives failed to produce points.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton struggled in his most extensive playing time of the preseason. Newton was intercepted twice and the Panthers failed to score on his eight first-half possessions. Overall, the Panthers had three points in 10 Newton-led drives.
The sixth-year quarterback was high on some passes and didn't get much help from receivers, who had problems getting separation and dropped four passes, one by Brenton Bersin on fourth and 2 at midfield.
New England's defense shut down the league's highest-scoring offense from a year ago. They also intercepted Derek Anderson and allowed only one passing play of more than 15 yards in the first half.
Garoppolo, expected to start the first four games for the Patriots while Brady serves a suspension for his role in "Deflategate," returned in the second quarter but got nothing going.
ROMO ENCOURAGED AFTER HIT: After Thursday's preseason game, all everyone could do was laugh about Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's injury scare .
Owner Jerry Jones joked that he was going to check into a Seattle hospital for heart issues, delaying his trip back to Dallas.
Romo, 36, who has had back issues throughout his career, was crunched on the ground and grabbing his back on the third play of the game after a hit from Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril. But Romo got up and walked off the field. The pain had dissipated, and though he didn't return because coach Jason Garrett wanted to play it safe, Romo admitted he and the team dodged a bullet.
"At the moment when you go down, you crunch, so your back gets squished, I guess you could say," Romo said. "You almost feel a sensation as if someone gave you a stinger in your shoulder. It just feels hot for a second. That dissipates after a minute and you're okay."
Romo missed 12 games last year after twice fracturing his left collarbone, and he hasn't played a full 16 games since 2012. He had back surgeries after the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Romo said that the hit, which came as he attempted to slide and Arvil grabbed him from behind, and his recovery is an example of how far he has come and the strength in his back.
"That was a perfect-timed situation," Romo said. "I was going into a slide. It's a perfect storm as far as the slide and going down. The fact we dodge a bullet is a good thing. I also think probably from the back being stronger allowed me to probably get through that.
"In a weird way, I feel good about the fact that was probably as tough of a hit I've taken on the back as I've had in the last five years. From that regard, I feel very lucky that it can hold up and I can keep going."
FALCONS' NEAL OUT: Atlanta rookie strong safety Keanu Neal, a first-round draft pick from Florida and the projected starter, will miss at least the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the Bucs with a right knee injury suffered in Thursday's loss to the Dolphins. Neal was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery Monday and was expected to miss three to four weeks. Also, receiver Julio Jones was expected to be limited in practice but okay for the regular season after sustaining an ankle injury.