Patriots

Four Ups, Four Downs From Patriots’ Loss To Giants In Preseason Finale

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Jimmy Garoppolo (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — It wasn’t the most crisp football game ever played, but the Patriots-Giants preseason meeting on Thursday night was much more for the coaches than it was for us.

Nevertheless, we all watched — this was football, after all, and when football’s on, we all watch — and we’re now ready for real football and the regular season.

But before moving on, let’s take a quick look at who shined and who struggled in the Patriots’ preseason finale.

Four Ups

Tim Wright
The new guy looked all right in his Patriots debut, which is impressive considering he’s had about 45 minutes to learn the Patriots’ playbook. He caught four passes for 43 yards, including a 16-yard catch-and-run over the middle early in the third quarter.

Immediately upon his acquisition, he was believed to be a serviceable player in the Aaron Hernandez role. While it’s impossible to be Aaron Hernandez — and that’s on and off the field — Wright showed promising signs that he can be a useful player in this offense.

Aaron Dobson
The receiver got his first action of the preseason, and he got in some good work in some rushed preparation for Week 1. He showed incredible focus to win a hand fight with Trumaine McBride along the sideline and then haul in a pass while falling across the goal line for the Patriots’ only touchdown, and he finished with three receptions for 57 yards. He would have had another touchdown, too, if Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t overthrow two consecutive passes from inside the 10-yard line in the second half.

All in all, Dobson showed promising signs that he’ll be good to go come Week 1.

Tavon Wilson
It’s hard to say with certainty whether or not the third-year safety is on the bubble, but he made a really smart and strong play in this game that stood out.

With the Giants’ starters still in the game, Eli Manning threw to Kellen Davis on a third-and-2. Wilson showed great recognition to burst toward Davis before wrapping him up and refusing to give an inch. Wilson ended up riding Davis out of bounds, forcing the Giants to punt.

Tom Brady
You might remember — or, if you were partying really hard, you might have forgotten — Tom Brady was forced into emergency duty as a holder last postseason, when Ryan Allen suffered a shoulder injury mid-game. Well, that experience apparently taught Bill Belichick a lesson in preparation, because he sent his future Hall of Fame quarterback to hold the ball on a PAT attempt.

Brady, of course, was perfect. Best. Hold. Ever.

Somewhere In Between

Jimmy Garoppolo
The QB wasn’t great, but he wasn’t bad, so he’ll go here in the “in between” area. He completed 22 of his 42 passes for 284 yards, and he threw one touchdown and one interception. The same positives that have been consistent with Garoppolo all preseason were there in this game — the poise, the quickness — and he never looked like he was in over his head. But he also made some mistakes and some questionable passes. A bogus penalty call bailed him out of an early interception, and he badly overthrew a simple pass to Aaron Dobson in the back of the end zone, a mistake that cost the Patriots four points when they had to settle for a field goal.

We may not see this kid take a snap until next summer. Hopefully, you enjoyed the Jimmy G. Show while it was possible.

Four Downs

Michael Buchanan/James Morris
The second-year defensive lineman and rookie linebacker make this list not due to their poor play, but because they unfortunately suffered injuries. It appeared to be a lower-body injury of some kind for Buchanan, and it looked like it might have been a knee sprain or something of that nature with Morris. The players and the Patriots have to hope it’s nothing serious with either player.

Offensive Line
Is it fair to single out an offensive lineman for one mistake in a football game? No, of course not. But in the wake of the Logan Mankins trade, the offensive line was guaranteed to be under a microscope in this game. And Cameron Fleming, the fourth-round pick out of Stanford, made a mistake early in the game, running past New York’s Stevie Brown and giving the defensive back a free run to disrupt the running play.

But it wasn’t as if the majority of the offensive line looked great in this one. Garoppolo was sacked three times, and the Patriots’ running backs combined for just 54 rushing yards on 23 attempts. That’s just a 2.3-yard average, which obviously isn’t going to cut it.

Fourth-Down Performance
In a tied game late in the fourth quarter, the Patriots pulled a “Hey, Why Not?” fourth-down conversion attempt. Garoppolo threw to his left, where Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins looked to have no idea which routes to run. The two receivers looked at each other with confusion as the pass sailed between them, and the Pats turned it over.

The Preseason
In general, the preseason is a painful process. It’s so slow, and it lacks excitement, and when you get down to the bottom of it, it doesn’t count. Fortunately for all of us, it’s over. Bring on the regular season.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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