PHILADELPHIA — Tom Brady’s return against the Philadelphia Eagles was overshadowed by a bigger comeback.
In a surprise move, Michael Vick is back from his NFL exile and coming to Philly.
Brady threw two touchdown passes in his first game since tearing ligaments in his left knee in Week 1 last year, leading the New England Patriots to a 27-25 victory over the Eagles in the preseason opener Thursday night.
Vick stole the headlines from Brady with news that the quarterback had signed a one-year deal with an option for a second year with the Eagles.
Brady said he wasn’t surprised to see Vick back in the league.
“No, he’s a good player,” he said.
Vick was convicted in August 2007 of conspiracy and running a dogfighting operation, and served 18 of a 23-month sentence in federal prison. The former Atlanta star also was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. He played his last NFL game on Dec. 31, 2006, against the Eagles.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said Vick deserved a second chance.
“You’re talking about one of the top quarterbacks in the league when he was playing,” Reid said. “I talked to Michael and he’s in a good place.”
Brady, who used a protective brace, played his first game since the 2008 opener.
Brady ran well in the pocket and showed no lingering effects of his surgically repaired left knee. He threw two touchdown passes to tight end Chris Baker, one in the first quarter and another in the second.
Brady completed 10 of 15 passes for 100 yards with one interception.
“I need the work, we all need the work,” Brady said. “You can’t duplicate this on the practice field.”
Brady, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, sat out the entire exhibition season last year because of an unspecified foot injury. He was knocked out for the season in the first quarter against Kansas City. Brady had started 128 consecutive games before going down.
The 2007 NFL MVP completed his first pass and threw an incompletion in his first series.
Brady handed off on his first play before tossing a 6-yard pass to Wes Welker out of a shotgun formation. On third-and-4, Brady’s pass for Joey Galloway was broken up.
Brady came out firing on New England’s second possession. He connected with Randy Moss over the middle for 13 yards, then threw a perfect deep ball to Moss down the right sideline. Former Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel was called for pass interference on the play, resulting in a 46-yard gain to the Eagles 18.
Four plays later, Brady found Baker open for a 4-yard TD strike.
“I thought he was sharp. He went out there and moved us up and down the field and put some points on the board,” Baker said.
Brady’s lone mistake came in the first quarter when he had a pass intercepted by cornerback Sheldon Brown. Brady slammed his helmet in disgust as he took his seat on the bench.
Julian Edelman, a converted quarterback, returned a punt 75 yards for a score that gave the Patriots a 14-3 lead.
Brady sent the Patriots into halftime with a 21-6 lead when he connected with Baker on a 9-yard scoring play.
Brady got his wish to play in the preseason after missing all of last year’s games. He had hinted this summer that skipping the games during the 2008 exhibition season might have left him open to the injury that knocked him out for the season.
He kept busy during his injury timeout. Brady rehabbed his knee, married supermodel Gisele Bundchen and even guest-starred this week on the HBO show “Entourage.”
Brady can add a win, beating Donovan McNabb and the Eagles just like he did in the 2005 Super Bowl.
“There’s no place I’d rather be,” Brady said “This is the place where I probably have the most fun and enjoy it the most. Preseason game doesn’t have quite the feel of a regular-season game, but to be out there on the field with my teammates and celebrate after a win, and the bus ride home … those are the things you probably enjoy the most.”
McNabb knows all about playing with a controversial teammate, surviving 11/2 tumultuous seasons with Terrell Owens that included the one Super Bowl appearance.
He’ll deal now with Vick, who brings more baggage than just disrupting team chemistry with controversial comments and gripes about his contract.
McNabb was out of the game when Eldra Buckley scored rushing and receiving touchdowns in the third quarter for the Eagles that cut the lead to two at 24-22 at the end of the quarter.
David Akers missed a 43-year field goal with 57 seconds left in the game that could have won the game for the Eagles.
By the end, the only thing the fans were buzzing about was the news that Vick was coming to Philly.
McNabb has led the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance in the last eight years – beating Vick and the Falcons in the 2004 title game.