Patriots-Giants wrap up pre-season
Thursday, August 29, 2013
No Tom Brady? No regulars to start the game? No problem?
After the disastrous 40-9 trouncing at the hands of the Detroit Lions one week ago, the Thursday night pre-season finale at Gillette Stadium against the New York Giants could have been another opportunity to tune up for the real thing.
Or not. With rookies and backups starting in front of the projected Patriot starters - largely against the first team offense and defense of the Giants, New England managed to squeeze past the Giants 28-20...and finish the pre-season with a 3-1 record.
After two stops on the first two drives against the Eli Manning-led Giants offense for the Patriots' backup "D," Manning put a monster 10-play, 91 yard drive together, culminating with a two-yard scoring toss to WR Hakeem Nicks toward the end of the first quarter for a 7-0 New York lead.
As the 2nd quarter got underway, QB Ryan Mallett - who got the start for Brady in the backfield - marched his offense into the Giants' red zone behind the running of rookie George Winn, and great catches from rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. At the NY four yard line, Mallett's attempt at a near-corner fade to Dobson was picked off by Prince Amukamara, but on replay review he was shown to be out of bounds. Two plays later, Winn plowed in from the one to tie the score at 7-7, ending a 12-play, 86 yard drive with 9:50 to play before the half.
All in all, representable play for the Patriot back-ups, against starters and scrubs alike for the Giants.
On the next opportunity, it didn't take long for the Patriots to strike again. Following a 43-yard punt return by Leon Washington, Mallett found rookie Josh Boyce for a 40-yard TD toss, giving New England the lead at 14-7, coming at the expense of the first wave of NY subs.
After an exchange of turnovers - rookie LB Steve Beauharnais recovered a fumble, then Dobson lost a catch from Mallett into the hands of LB Mark Herzlich - the Giants' Josh Brown converted a 35-yard field goal with 1:04 to play before halftime to make it 14-10.
The second half brought Tim Tebow into the game, but his first three possessions brought on four QB sacks by the Giants' defense. To his credit, maybe, Tebow attempted to stay in the pocket on three of them, but had his protection break down. With 7:08 remaining in the 3rd, Josh Brown pulled the Giants within one on a 48-yard field goal. And following a punt return by Charles James that set the Giants up at the NE 21, QB Curtis Painter connected with Da'Rel Scott for a six yard scoring pass to give NY a 20-14 lead, and 4:23 left in the period.
Tebow fans (and Josh McDaniels?) got what they had been looking/hoping/wishing for in the 4th quarter, as the erstwhile Denver Broncos' starter found rookie Quentin Sims up the seam and into the end zone on a 3rd down, 52-yard TD play. With 12:26 remaining, Tebow boos turned into Tebow cheers as the Pats seized the lead back from the Giants at 21-20. But what the football gods giveth, they taketh away on the next possession, as Tebow was picked off by Trumaine McBride.
Fortunately for Tebow, the interception didn't do any damage to the scoreboard. Pinned on their own three with just over three minutes remaining, NY's Painter hit Marcus Harris for 43 yards, but after a nice deflection by Marquise Cole on a pass intended for Kevin Hardy, the Pats defense sacked Painter on a 4th down attempt with under two minutes to play. From there, it was all Tebow time. He found Sims in the end zone for a nine-yard garbage-time score with :06 left on the clock.
Perhaps for the final time.