Patriots

Pats start hot, fizzle late, fall to Giants 18-17

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Pats start hot, fizzle late, fall to Giants 18-17

By Jimmy Toscano
CSNNE.com

It won't mean much in the grand scheme of things, and that's good, because the Pats lost this one, 18-17.

But there were plenty of positives to take from the exhibition loss to the Giants at Gillette Stadium in the final preseason game of the year, and if it's just the starters you care about, then maybe you're okay with how the game went.

The Pats took control fast in this one.

In fact, it took just 20 seconds for them to get on the board.

Back at their own 5-yard line due to an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, the Giants' David Carr, playing for Eli Manning, completed the first pass of the game to wide receiver Domenik Hixon at the 17 yard-line. But Hixon was stripped of the ball after the catch by Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. Patriots safety Pat Chung picked up the loose ball and returned it all the way to the 1-yard line.

It was then up to Tom Brady (5-for-9, 116 yards) and the gang to convert on their end, and it took just one BenJarvus Green-Ellis run to get the job done.

Talk about a short playing field.

That Giants turnover was one of three on the night, and pretty much summed up the first half for each team.

The Giants didn't play any of their usual starters, while the Patriots trotted out Brady, Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis, and a number of other usual suspects for the first quarter and into the second quarter.

The decision to play the starters for a bit makes sense, seeing as the Patriots don't play until Sept. 12, and it would have been 15 days in-between game action for a number of players.

And the report, in short, should be a good one. Haynesworth, while visibly winded out there, commanded double teams regularly, and provided pressure on Carr. Ditto for Shaun Ellis.

"Yeah, we had several guys out there that havent played in preseason and we had a chance to play them today," Bill Belichick said. "It was good to get them a little action. Im sure that will benefit them."

Later in the quarter, the Pats were blessed with a short field again after a Devin McCourty interception and return to the Giants' 33 yard-line. They managed a field goal for a 10-0 lead.

The Giants answered with a field goal of their own to make it 10-3, but Brady got to work on the ensuing possession.

Starting at his own 10-yard line, Brady connected with tight end Aaron Hernandez twice for 7 and 15 yards, respectively. But it was a deep Brady pass to a wide-open Matthew Slater streaking across the middle that really broke it open. Brady connected with Slater, around midfield, and he ran it all the way down to the Giants 4.

Cue Green-Ellis again.

The Patriots would go up 17-3, and it would appear that this one was in the books.

But in the second half, it was all New York. Showing punt formation to start the fourth quarter, the Giants faked it, and instead called a direct snap to Da'Rel Scott, who flew past unsuspecting Patriots special teamers for 65 yards and the touchdown.

Then, it was payback for the Giants, who turned the ball over deep in their territory to start the game.

Patriots running back Richard Medlin fumbled it at the 11 yard-line, where it was picked up by the Giants' Brian Jackson and taken to the house for the score.

With the Giants down 17-16, they elected to go for two. The conversion was successful, as Ryan Perilloux found Jerrel Jernigan in the end zone.

With 9:40 remaining in the game, that would be the last score.

Brian Hoyer, in limited minutes, went 3-for-5 for 31 yards, while rookie Ryan Mallett went 6-for-16 for 57 yards.

Patriots rookie running back Shane Vereen led all Patriots rushers with 34 yards on 11 carries.

Newly acquired wide receiver Tiquan Underwood had four receptions for 52 yards, but a costly illegal formation penalty that cancelled out a Patriots special teams touchdown could be what stands out for him.

Saturday marks roster cuts in the NFL, and the Pats must go from 80 players to 53. If you think Bill Belichick was only scoping out the young guys tonight, think again.

"Were trying to evaluate everybody, including the veterans," Belichick said. "What veterans did last year, thats great, but thats last year. Its really where they are now and what they can contribute to this team, so I think they have to prove themselves just like the rookies do. They have an experience advantage, but they still have to go out there and show what theyre able to do and theyre competing for playing time as well as roster sports."

Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

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Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on it’s own feel, it’s own flavor and - eventually - it’s own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: