Gordon, whose indefinite suspension was lifted by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Aug. 16, caught a 19-yard pass on the team's third offensive play. That sparked an ovation from the home crowd at Gillette Stadium.
Gordon was charted on the field for 21 of the first 23 plays overall, in addition to a two-point conversion. Over that span, he was targeted six times and totaled two catches for 30 yards. Those were his final numbers in a 31-29 loss.
Gordon dropped one pass on a slant route to open the second drive, which reflected how he is shaking off rust. He also drew a 35-yard pass interference penalty on the first play of the second quarter, which preceded a 35-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham to veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Gordon did not speak to reporters after the game.
"I really thought he did some really good things. Josh is obviously very, very talented," Stidham said.
Gordon, whose previous game was Dec. 16 in a 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, wasn't eligible to play Aug. 22 in New England's third preseason game. Because he wasn't part of the Patriots' offseason program and the first three weeks of training camp, he has some catch-up work to do with conditioning. That was part of the reason he played in the preseason finale despite the Patriots sitting many of their top players, including quarterback Tom Brady.
In addition to Gordon, Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman made his preseason debut (five snaps played), as did Thomas.