BOSTON (CBS) — We saw Tom Brady, we saw Nick Foles. We saw Darrelle Revis, and we saw LeSean McCoy.
And we also saw penalty flags. So. Many. Penalty flags.
That’s the main story coming out of Friday night’s game at Gillette Stadium, a 42-35 win for the Patriots. Frankly, it made it hard to recall with clarity all of the important plays of the game, but hopefully this list of four ups and four downs helps refresh some memories.
In his first action of the preseason, the quarterback was nearly perfect. He went 8-for-10 for 81 yards, connecting with Kenbrell Thompkins on a perfect back-shoulder throw for a first-quarter touchdown.
Brady did throw an interception, but it was clearly due to tight end Steve Maneri being out of sync with the QB and failing to run the right route. The only bad thing Brady did on that play happened when he chased down Cary Williams and made a diving attempt to tackle the cornerback. That’s a risk the Patriots probably don’t need their MVP to be taking in the preseason.
All in all, it was a solid showing from Brady. He looks ready for Week 1.
There was a play on the Patriots’ second drive which caused a whole lot of confusion. Brady lofted a deep pass up the left sideline for Julian Edelman. The receiver was interfered with, drawing the penalty flag, but he also made the catch. Apparently, he was ruled to have made that catch out of bounds, as the officials enforced the penalty rather than awarding the catch. This perplexed Bill Belichick, who lit into the men in stripes and demanded an explanation. As you can see in the photo below, it’s clear that Edelman tapped at least one foot before going out of bounds, so it seemed possible that he got both feet down before going out of bounds:
Well, Bill was a little too forceful, and he ended up getting slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. He was beside himself, at one point reaching to his sock to grab the red challenge flag before thinking better of it and deciding to not turn a 15-yard penalty into a 30-yard penalty.
Still, it’s clear from Bill’s burning rage that he’s already in midseason form. Well done, Coach Bill.
Dont’a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich And The First Team Offense
Granted, the Eagles didn’t exactly have a ton of offensive opportunities in the first half, but nevertheless, the Patriots’ defense stood tall against a powerful offense.
On the Eagles’ first offensive snap — which came nearly 10 full minutes into the game — Malcolm Butler held up receiver Ifeanyi Momah. Dont’a Hightower came across the middle and lit up the receiver, knocking the ball loose. Tommy Kelly pounced on the loose ball, and four plays later, the Pats were in the end zone.
On the Eagles’ second series, Rob Ninkovich came up with a third-down sack to force a punt. On the third Philadelphia series, the New England defense halted the drive at their own 29-yard line, and then Alex Henery missed his 47-yard field goal attempt.
Foles and the first-team offense did eventually find the end zone, but that came on a short field after a blocked punt. You’d never know it from the final score, but the starting defense really did a good job on this night.
The receiver once again caught a touchdown, this one from Ryan Mallett, but that’s not why he’s on this list. He’s on this list because he got up after making a very difficult catch and broke into the Randy Moss touchdown celebration. Very well-executed move by Tyms.
That’s two postseason touchdowns and two memorable celebrations for Tyms, who looks to have a beat on making the roster.
Ryan Mallett: Good bounceback performance from the QB, who was a third-stringer on this night and went 7-for-11 for 92 yards with the aforementioned touchdown to Tyms. He also ran it in from the 6-yard line for another score.
Jimmy Garoppolo: He started out great, going 4-for-5 for 56 yards and two touchdowns in his first two drives. He hit some bumps thereafter, but still a strong showing from the rook.
Brandon LaFell: The new guy came up with a big third-down catch to pick up 26 yards, and he later caught a floater in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Red-zone scoring was a problem for New England last year, and LaFell figures to help that problem this year.
Referee John Parry And The Officiating Crew!
If this is what the NFL wants, the league better prepare to lose fans by the thousands. In all, the two teams combined for 21 penalties and 169 penalty yards, and every play ended with the uncomfortable feeling of waiting to see a yellow penalty flag on the field.
It was, frankly, absurd, and hopefully the league figures out what it wants to do with regard to the illegal contact penalties. Because this was difficult to watch, plain and simple.
Ryan Allen And Stephen Gostkowski
Special teams is the one unit on the field that is supposed to be perfect — or close to perfect — every time out there. In this game, the special teams unit was not perfect … not even close.
Ryan Allen was partially to blame for a blocked punt in the first half, as he wasn’t exactly quick in getting the ball to his foot after Arrelious Benn broke through the line, and later in the game he let a snap slip right through his hands. Those are mistakes that can completely change games and therefore can never happen.
Stephen Gostkowski missed his only field-goal attempt of the night — a standard 43-yarder — and he also clanked a PAT off the goalpost and in. It wasn’t the sharpest he’s ever looked, but that’s what the preseason is for.
The running back was having a decent game, gaining 45 yards on nine carries, but early in the second quarter, he fumbled.
Now, had the Eagles recovered and the play been reviewed, it’s likely that Ridley would have been ruled down, and therefore there would be no fumble. But because James Develin was Johnny on the spot and was able to recover the fumble, no replay was necessary.
Still, with Ridley, fumbles just can’t happen.He can’t lose the ball. He cannot. He won’t be playing much if he can’t hold on to the ball, and that was clear on Friday night. After he fumbled, he was not asked to touch the ball for the rest of the game.
This is nothing new for Ridley, and it needs to stop.
I’m not going to sit here and pick apart the bottom half of the roster, guys who won’t be in the NFL by the end of the month. That would be wrong. But allowing Mark Sanchez — Mark Sanchez! — to slice through you like that? Where is the pride?
It is true that Duron Harmon made a nice play to intercept a Sanchez pass to start the second half, but that was Sanchez’s only incompletion of the night. He went 11-for-12 for 117 yards, and he threw two touchdowns. Perhaps he was inspired by some inner desire to gain Buttfumble revenge, but come on. You can’t make Mark Sanchez look like Dan Marino out there — I don’t care if it’s August.
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