Best and worst: Brissett finishes off his summer with a flourish
FOXBORO -- It wasn't pretty. And with both the Patriots and Giants working with 90-man rosters, meaning they could play borderline NFL talents for the vast majority of the game, maybe that was to be expected.
But it wasn't all bad. Here are some of our observations from the night, Best and Worst style.
BEST WAY TO PROVE YOU'RE IMPROVING
Jacoby Brissett knew he'd be seeing plenty of playing time on Thursday, and he came out hot. He completed his first four passes on his first series, including a nine-yard touchdown to Cody Hollister, targeting the undrafted rookie out of Arkansas despite tight coverage. Brissett's first two preseason outings had been rough in terms of the numbers, but he felt as though he was improving over the course of the summer. His first drive -- despite an off-the-mark throw to Jacob Hollister that was salvaged by a great catch from the undrafted tight end -- was proof of that. Brissett's first drive in the second quarter was even better. He completed all four of his passes, but appeared to be in better rhythm than he was early on. He scanned the field quickly, made good decisions, and hit his targets with accurate throws for a total of 71 yards.
BEST WAY TO CAP YOUR SUMMER
Brissett's touchdown run near the goal line in the fourth quarter was smooth, juking a Giants defender that seemed to have both Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo impressed on the Patriots sidelines. Then he hit Jacob Hollister for a four-yard score when Hollister had a defender all over him. Before that, Brissett's touchdown throw to Devin Lucien at the end of the third quarter was fairly absurd. Facing down pressure, throwing off of his back foot moving away from the line of scrimmage, taking a hit, he threw a pinpoint pass to the back corner of the end zone for six. Coming out of college, one of the check marks in Brissett's favor was his arm strength. In New England, obviously, it's important to be able to make throws that cut through the wind, cold and snow in December and January. Brissett reminded folks he could be capable of that with some of the darts he threw Thursday. Seeing as how he likely won't see a single snap during the regular season, finishing off the night with two touchdown passes and a touchdown run -- bringing his stat line for the night to 28-for-38 for 321 yards, four touchdowns and a pick -- wasn't a bad way to end his summer.
WORST WAY TO SPARK A DRIVE
Brissett and offensive tackle Conor McDermott can share this honor. On New England's second drive of the game, on the first play, McDermott failed to execute a cut block on defensive end Kerry Wynn. Not noticing that Wynn was still upright, Brissett tried to make a throw into the flat that was picked easily and run back for a touchdown. After the play, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia could be seen lecturing McDermott, a sixth-round pick this year who came into the game seemingly on the bubble.
BEST WAY TO CATCH ANOTHER TEAM'S EYE
Plenty of players playing in this game understand that they're not long for the Patriots roster. Demarius Travis could be one of those. He happens to play safety, which happens to be one of the deepest and most experienced positions on either side of the ball for Bill Belichick's club. But he may be playing for a practice-squad spot. Or a spot in a locker room of another franchise. His forced fumble and fumble recovery in the first quarter was the kind of play that might catch someone's eye somewhere.
BEST WAY TO SPEND A NIGHT
Asked recently how he spent preseason finales during his career, Jerod Mayo said, "sunflower seeds." Here's a list of "bubble" players who didn't see any action on Thursday, which could bode well for the security of their spots on the 53-man active roster: Brandon Bolden, Cam Fleming, Elandon Roberts, Justin Coleman and Jordan Richards.
WORST WAY TO END YOUR NIGHT
Cyrus Jones went down with an ugly knee injury in the second quarter. It was of the non-contact variety, like Julian Edelman's last week. He did not return. More details here on Jones' injury and what the Patriots might have to do in terms of their punt returns if Jones misses extensive time.