Patriots, Giants battle in pre-season finale
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
For a final pre-season game, the hope is to get out of it as “undamaged” as possible.
In what was hardly a re-match of last February’s 21-17 New York Giants’ win in Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots dropped a ho-hummer to the Giants 6-3 Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Ultimate success, however, can’t be measured in a win or a loss…especially when your expected go-to guys never get up to go anywhere. At least in this game.
Featuring a starting line-up that might have had two regulars playing (Sebastian Vollmer at offensive tackle, Jermaine Cunningham on the defensive line), it was clear from the outset the Patriots were hoping to accomplish a few things – one, keep the regulars healthy. Two, give plenty of opportunity to players who might still figure into the final 53-man roster…and three, give the rest of the guys a shot to play well enough and perhaps catch on with another team.
After a scoreless first quarter, QB Ryan Mallett led the offense on a 12 play, 51 yard drive, led by the running of Brandon Bolden and Eric Kettani. The Patriots had to settle for a 20-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal after the drive stalled at the Giants’ three yard line…and so it was a 3-0 NE lead with 8:22 to play in the second quarter.
Perhaps the best news to this point, however, might have been the play of the New England defense, featuring mostly back-ups against Eli Manning and the majority of the NY first-team offense. The second-and-third line “D” sent Manning to the sidelines without a score when his night ended after the first quarter was completed, and included a 14-yard sack of Manning by Cunningham. Cunningham would add another sack (on backup QB David Carr) at the end of the half.
Even with a 3-0 game at halftime, it became apparent both teams had little desire to engage in much more than basic offensive sets and plays…perhaps hoping, as mentioned previously, to get out of the Meadowlands with no more than basic bumps and bruises. The Giants showed some offensive spark on the opening drive of the third quarter, with running back Andre Brown finding room within the creases of the Patriot defense. A 13-play, 64 yard drive (consuming 7:30 – half of the 3rd quarter) ended with Lawrence Tynes booting a 34 yard field goal for a 3-3 score.
The Giants dominated in the 3rd quarter, if not on the scoreboard, by holding possession for 13:42 out of the 15 minutes of play. The Patriot defense, however, was able to force another New York punt after a 6-plus minute, 11-play drive ended short of a potential field goal attempt. With a 3-3 score and just under 3:00 to play in the 4th quarter, Patriot QB Brian Hoyer was stripped of the ball by Adewale Ojomo, with the ball recovered by Marcus Thomas at the New England 17. Three plays later, Tynes connected on a 32-yard field goal to put the Giants up 6-3. Hoyer's last gasp effort at pitching the Pats to a win ended with an interception in the end zone by Laron Scott. The play ended the Patriots' pre-season with a 1-3 record.
Perhaps the players made it out of the Meadowlands undamaged physically for the most part...but psychologically? After lackluster offensive performances in all four pre-season games?
We'll find out, starting September 9th.
Post Game Notes
QB Ryan Mallett made his second start of the preseason. He started in the Monday Night Football game against Philadelphia on Aug. 20 at Gillette Stadium. Mallett played through the first half before being relieved by Brian Hoyer. Mallett finished the game 8-of-15 for 40 yards...Hoyer finished 9-of15 for 96 yards...the Patriots and Giants closed out the preseason for the eighth straight year. The Patriots lost to the Giants 6-3 and are now 2-6 in those games...of the seven 2012 draft picks, four were in the starting lineup against the Giants. Second-round pick Tavon Wilson started at safety, sixth-round pick Nate Ebner started at safety, seventh-round pick Alfonzo Dennard started at cornerback and seventh-round pick Jeremy Ebert started at wide receiver...Rookie free agent RB Brandon Bolden started at running back and finished with 15 carries for 59 yards for a 3.9-yard average...both teams punted the ball nine times...first-year LB Mike Rivera led the team with 12 total tackles, including 11 solo tackles...cut down to the final 53-player roster is expected by 4pm ET Friday afternoon...