By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — It was a strange start to a beautiful Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, and that was before the Patriots and Bears even kicked things off.

Several reports said Tom Brady was going to start, but a pre-game accident kept that from happening. Then the Patriots offense and defense both got off to slow starts before they put it all together for a 23-22 win over Chicago.

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It’s only preseason, and there were a lot of second, third and even fourth-teamers involved in this one, so we don’t want to overreact too much. But here are the Ups and Downs from Thursday night’s preseason tilt.


Jimmy Shows Progress

After a so-so debut and another slow start, Jimmy Garoppolo settled in for a solid night in his second preseason game as New England’s starting quarterback. He finished 16-for-21 with 181 yards and a touchdown, running the hurry-up to near perfection at the end of the first half.

And as an added bonus, quarterback Jacoby Brissett also looked strong after taking over for Garoppolo, going 9-for-13 for 87 yards.

A.J. Derby Makes His Case

The battle for the third tight end spot may be over after a six-catch night by Derby. He held on after getting hit hard in the end zone on Garoppolo’s touchdown pass before the half, and made a spectacular grab up top for a 26-yard reception from Brissett in the third quarter.

Patriots tight end A.J. Derby makes a nice catch along the sideline in New England's preseason win over the Chicago Bears. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Patriots tight end A.J. Derby makes a nice catch along the sideline in New England’s preseason win over the Chicago Bears. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Blount Did Blount Things

After a bad preseason debut, the big back led the way with 69 rush yards on 11 carries, including New England’s first touchdown.

Anthony Johnson Says Hello

With a handful of defensive lineman sitting this one out, Anthony Johnson made the most of his opportunity. The second-year player out of LSU was disruptive whenever he was on the field, finished with half a sack and a pair of tackles. He also tipped a Jay Cutler pass at the line on Chicago’s first drive, forcing the Bears to settle for a field goal.

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Another Slow Start For Offense

Garoppolo stressed the importance of a strong start after last week’s win over the Saints, but the offense went three-and-out in their first series on the field.

That cannot happen next week in Carolina against a talented Panthers defense, and definitely cannot happen when games start to matter in three weeks.

Stinky Start For D

The defense was worse to start the game, letting the Bears jump out to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter. Cutler and Alshon Jeffery picked on Justin Coleman on back-to-back plays, resulting in 41 yards for Chicago, which helped lead them to an opening drive field goal. The D let the Bears put together an 11-play, 64-yard touchdown drive on their second possession, allowing Jeremy Langford to run for 40 yards (including a 34-yard run to the New England 5) and a touchdown. This came against a Bears team that didn’t score in their preseason opener.

There were also a pair of third down holding penalties on Coleman and Patrick Chung on that second drive, moving the chains for Chicago.

Bolden Fumbles

The Patriots offense had a nice drive going on their second possession of the game, marching 83 yards down the field deep into Chicago territory. But Brandon Bolden let Tracy Porter strip the ball away, and the Bears corner recovered the fumble at the Chicago 3-yard line for a big missed opportunity by New England.

This is a rarity for Bolden, who has zero fumbles in 53 regular season games, but you can bet he’ll be holding onto a football wherever he goes the rest of the preseason.

Tom’s Thumb

Brady reportedly cut his right thumb with scissors as he tried to clean his cleat before the game (shouldn’t some rookie be doing that?). His agent Don Yee told WBZ-TV that Brady “will be okay in time,” but cutting the thumb on his throwing hand can’t be fun.

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At least he has seven weeks to heal up.