FOXBORO – Dante Scarnecchia may be thinking how nice it’d be to watch the sunset on Block Island tonight.
The veteran offensive line coach, coaxed out of retirement to fine-tune an offensive line which seemed to be flagging, has watched the Saints pressure and pummel quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as blown assignments seem to be reigning early in the Patriots’ first preseason game.
Garoppolo has started 3-for-7 for 33 yards – all completions to tight end Martellus Bennett. On the Patriots’ third drive, Garoppolo got whacked when Marcus Cannon failed to pick up a defender coming across his face and threw incomplete. A completion to Bennett was followed by a full-on jailbreak and another sack, that one for 14 yards.
Garoppolo’s throws haven’t been outstanding. He misfired badly into the flat on a throw to James White and his first completion to Bennett was off the mark, preventing any run-after-catch yards. He also took a sack on the first series when it appeared he had some room to step up in the pocket.
The Patriots’ defense created turnovers on the first two drives. The first came when Jabaal Sheard caught Mark Ingram like a human catcher’s mitt then put his hand on the point of the football and ripped at it like he was trying to start a lawnmower.
The second came when Saints’ backup Garrett Grayson forced a pass into a Patriots team meeting. Patrick Chung deflected it to Jamie Collins who scurried down the sideline for the first touchdown of the fake season.
White ran in the two-point conversion. The Saints used a long punt return to set up their first touchdown and scored another at the start of the second to go ahead, 16-8.
The Pats ironed some things out on their first drive of the second quarter with a nice completion to Aaron Dobson, a first-down run by LeGarrette Blount and a long screen pass to White down to the Saints 1. Blount went in from there.
At the half, Garoppolo was 11-for-18 for 168 yards. The Patriots led, 17-16.