The New England Patriots fell to the New York Giants in their final preseason game Thursday night, 16-13. In defeat, the Patriots did show many bright spots on the both sides of the football. Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played the entire game from start to finish. Aaron Dobson and Tim Wright made several positive plays in the passing game. All in all, many of the reserves took great strides toward potentially securing a roster spot. Most importantly, they escaped the Meadowlands without sustaining any major injuries.
New York’s starters played two series. New England’s reserves impressively stifled the Giants starting offense, making them look downright terrible at times. Eli Manning completed just one pass for no yards. Tom Brady, Ryan Allen and Stephen Gostkowski were the only starters to play for Bill Belichick. Brady’s loan play came on a field goal in which he served as the holder.
Garoppolo wasn’t perfect, but he was impressive yet again. He made a slew of noteworthy plays, including a 35-yard touchdown connection with Aaron Dobson. In the second quarter, Garoppolo rocketed a bomb down the sideline, finding a diving Dobson in the end zone to cap off an 82-yard drive. The Patriots took a 7-3 lead at the time.
When all was said and done, Garoppolo finished with 284 yards on 22-of-42 passing. He notched one touchdown and one interception. He showed tremendous poise in bouncing back from the interception. He also was sacked on a couple of occasions and continued to keep at it without hesitation. It’s worth noting Garoppolo’s interception came against the Giants defensive starters.
Dobson snagged three balls for 57 yards. The second-year wideout showed that he can indeed provide the offense with that deep threat ability that they had hoped for. Having missed all three of the prior preseason games, the Patriots have to be happy with what Dobson showed as far as timing goes. Kenbrell Thompkins added five catches for 46 yards.
Tight end Tim Wright, in his first game as a Patriot, showed great versatility. Wright lined up in tight to the line and split outside at times. He finished the game with 4 receptions, totaling 43 yards. He finished with a total of 43 snaps. His ability to quickily learn the team’s plays and calls in such a short period of time is a positive.
Bill Belichick gave Josh Kline a long look at left guard. Perhaps he’s leaning towards replacing Logan Mankins with Kline. The second-year man had his ups and downs in the game. Jordan Devey, a fellow guard who had been seeing a ton of reps in prior games, did not play. As of right now though, Kline appears to be a clear frontrunner to start the season at left guard.
Safety Nate Ebner and defensive ends Jake Bequette and Zack Moore led the defensive charge. Many players who the Patriots hope to utilize as depth guys moving forward did step up and have strong showings. Ebner led all Patriots tacklers with 11. Bequette recorded seven tackles and one sack. Moore added eight tackles and one sack.
Linebackers Steve Beauharnais and Ja’Gared Davis held it down. They each notched seven tackles and were extremely active. Heading into the game, defensive back Daxton Swanson was a guy who had a lot to prove and a lot to gain. He was given a ton of playing time and it resulted in an eye-catching forced turnover. The rookie stripped a ball carrier and recovered the fumble. Coach Belichick will certainly take note as that’s something he preaches on a regular basis.
Gostkowski nailed both field goals he attempted. Hit hit from a long of 37 yards in the second quarter and then from 21 yards in the third quarter.
The Patriots will be forced to reduce their roster to 53 players by 6 p.m. on Saturday. They open the season on September 7 at the Miami Dolphins.