BOSTON (CBS) — Thursday night was the last time we’ll see Tom Brady on the football field for over a month.
The Patriots quarterback played the entire first half of New England’s preseason finale against the New York Giants on Thursday night, the final time he’ll see the field before serving his four-game DeflateGate suspension. Jimmy Garoppolo, who will start the first four regular season games in Brady’s place, did not play in Thursday night’s 17-9 loss.
It was the first time Brady played quarterback in the preseason finale since 2011 (he played holder for a snap in 2014). He saw the field for 39 snaps on Thursday night, finishing 16-of-26 for 166 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Brady’s night didn’t start on a high note, as his first drive ended with an interception. Aaron Dobson didn’t put up much of a fight for the second-down bid, and it was picked off by Trevin Wade. Brady completed just one of his first five passes, but finished the night strong and was able to get into a rhythm, which was what the quarterback had hoped to do before his suspension kicked in.
He even took a sack, which likely led to a few gasps throughout New England, but again, that was something Brady wanted to do given he’ll go ninth months between games that count.
Brady got the game’s scoring going with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Keshawn Martin late in the first quarter, but couldn’t connect with Chris Hogan on the two-point conversion. He had a pair of lengthy connections on the drive, with a 20-yard connection to Julian Edelman on the first play and then hit D.J. Foster on a wheel route for 30 yards. Brady also used his legs on the drive, as he did several times Thursday night to buy extra time, scrambling 10 yards a few plays before his touchdown pass.
Brady’s night ended with the QB taking a knee just ahead of halftime. His four-game suspension begins Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., and the quarterback won’t be able to do anything with his team until October 3. But he was happy to see the field Thursday night.
“It was a good opportunity to get out there and play, just to get out and feel some game action. We did a decent job moving the ball but turned it over too many times,” he said. “Hopefully our guys can learn from it and do a better job next week against Arizona.”
“You can’t take insurance out on players. If you play football, you play football,” Belichick said after the game, adding it was the plan to play Brady for the full first half. “I don’t know how you get better playing football without playing football. You can’t stand around and talk about it all day. I don’t think that makes you a better player. At some point you have to get out there and play.”
What’s next for Brady? The quarterback doesn’t know, as he agreed that “uncharted” was a great way to categorize his situation. But he’ll be watching, cheering on the Patriots from home.
“I’ll be cheering like hell,” he said. “I don’t know how much that helps us win, but that’s all you can do when you’re watching.”