Tom Brady overcomes rocky start in win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- At least for one series Tom Brady looked like Tom Brady again.

The four-time Super Bowl champion overcame two early interceptions to lead his first touchdown drive of the preseason as the New England Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 17-16 on Friday night.

New England's first six possessions included four three-and-outs and two Brady interceptions, although one came when Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman wrestled the ball away from Aaron Dobson on the ground. Brady's other pick came when he fired over the middle in traffic and safety Kurt Coleman stepped in front of the pass.

Before his TD drive, Brady had a quarterback rating of 2.8. He exited at halftime, finishing 7 of 13 for 84 yards.

"We didn't do much offensively," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said when asked to assess Brady's performance.

Brady left without speaking to reporters after the game; the Patriots are not making him available to the media in a preseason that has been a titanic struggle for Brady, who is awaiting word on his appeal of a four-game suspension for his role in "Deflategate."

After managing just three first downs in his first 11 preseason possessions, Brady finally got on track, leading an 80-yard scoring drive before halftime running the hurry-up offense. He capped the drive with a well-placed 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Scott Chandler over the shoulder of linebacker Thomas Davis.

The Patriots played again without tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receivers Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman.

Newton finished 17 of 28 for 160 yards and a touchdown.

Carolina's first-team offense has had struggles of its own this preseason, scoring 20 points on 15 drives as penalties and drops ruined scoring opportunities.

"As an offense we need to be better," Newton said. "It's frustrating that at halftime, with the defense playing its tails off, and we only had six points."

Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press

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