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5 winners and 2 losers from Thursday night’s preseason NFL games

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We got fake punts, squirrels, and Blake Bortles making a smart choice.

On Thursday night, the Eagles topped the Dolphins, and the Panthers edged the Jaguars. But it’s preseason, so final scores don’t really matter. The big stories from Thursday’s games were the quarterbacks.

We saw Cam Newton take the field for the first time since his shoulder surgery, and though he was only in the game for one series, he looked sharp, hitting Kelvin Benjamin for a 9-yard touchdown to cap off that drive.

Chad Henne got the start for the Jaguars over Blake Bortles, and Henne was ... OK. Henne completed 8 of 14 passes for 72 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Bortles still got plenty of work in the second half, and he was ... OK, too. He went 12-of-16 for 125 yards, a touchdown and a pick.

We got our first look at Jay Cutler in a Dolphins uniform, and he looked great, actually. He had 105 yards and a touchdown on just five completed passes. Matt Moore, on the other hand, completed fewer than half of his passes and had two picks and no touchdowns. If this is a quarterback competition in Miami, it’s in name only.

Carson Wentz got the start, unsurprisingly, for the Eagles, and he looked solid. He also appeared happy to have some new receiving options in Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery.

There were some stellar moments, and a couple of embarrassing ones. Here are the winners and losers from Thursday night’s games.

Winner: This fake punt

We don’t see fake punts in the preseason often. Hell, even during the regular season, they’re not incredibly common. But we got one from the Jaguars on Thursday night.

If you’re going to try a fake punt in a preseason game, you’d better get it right. And the Jaguars did:

It resulted in a 51-yard gain, and the Jags were able to convert that into a touchdown. Well played, Jacksonville.

Winner: Blake Bortles making a smart business decision

Bortles has thrown a lot of picks, and it’s fair to call his decision-making on the field into question. But he demonstrated wisdom after he threw a pick against the Panthers and decided to just chill instead of trying to tackle Zack Sanchez:

Bortles is trying to win the starting job again in Jacksonville, but the most important ability is availability. It’s smart to not risk injury in a game that truly doesn’t matter.

Loser: All of us, because this wasn’t a big-guy touchdown

We all love big-guy touchdowns. There’s something delightful about seeing a large man— a guy who doesn’t look like a wide receiver or a tight end or a cornerback — making a play on the ball and running that thing in for a touchdown.

Well, it almost happened for the Dolphins’ Jordan Phillips, who hustled every bit of his 333-pound frame toward the end zone when he picked off Wentz:

It looked like a touchdown at first, but he was ruled out at the 2-yard line after replay. At least big guys coming up with interceptions is still fun to watch.

Winner: The Eagles’ additions at receiver

Smith had his first touchdown since signing with Philadelphia on Thursday. It was a beauty. Wentz heaves this one under pressure, and Smith is wide, wide open and into the end zone with ease:

Wentz followed that up with a pretty 15-yard pass to Jeffery, his other new receiving threat. It looks like Philly’s offseason acquisitions are fitting right in.

Winner: Jay Cutler

Cutler knows Miami’s offense from his time working with head coach Adam Gase as his offensive coordinator in Chicago. He looked comfortable and confident, especially on this 72-yard pass to DeVante Parker:

Technically the quarterback situation hasn’t been settled in Miami. Moore is still up for the job in theory. But after the Dolphins paid Cutler $13 million to delay his broadcasting career and return to football, it seemed obvious what direction the team was going to go. Cutler’s performance on Thursday solidified it.

Loser: All of the quarterbacks who threw these picks

It’s preseason, so it doesn’t matter that much. But there were a ton of interceptions on Thursday night. That’s fun for all of us watching, and it’s less fun for the quarterbacks involved.

Mychal Kendricks impressed with a 31-yard pick six against the Dolphins:

The Eagles were able to turn this one into another touchdown in this high-scoring affair.

It was a tie ballgame in Philly, and Dolphins backup Brandon Doughty tossed a pick that put the Eagles in a position to score again. Look at him go!

And here goes Sanchez, who picked off Bortles in Carolina’s win:

Even though these quarterbacks can’t be too proud of the picks they threw, they’re enjoyable to watch. That makes us the real winners here.


This squirrel was the best part about the Dolphins-Eagles game. And that game was pretty interesting.

SO cute.