BOSTON (CBS) — The preseason is over, and in two short weeks, football will start to count for the Patriots and the rest of the NFL.

New England closed out its three-game preseason slate with a 22-20 win over the New York Giants, winning all three exhibition games. Sunday night featured the Patriots’ future at quarterback throwing his first touchdown pass, an incredible block and a handful of incredible runs by a rising running back, and some more dominance from the defense.

This game didn’t feel too much like the final preseason game of years past, when the starters got a rest and the backups had their run of the show. But that’s what happens when the fourth preseason game gets the axe; you get an intriguing game right before the regular season. Here is a look at the Ups and Downs from our last look at the Patriots until Sept. 12 against Miami.

Ups

Jones Throws His First Touchdown

Mac Jones didn’t have a particularly good first half, but he was strong in the second half. He finished off his first drive of the second half with a beautiful touchdown toss to Isaiah Zuber. The rookie QB froze the safeties with a quick look to his right and then threaded the needle with a perfect strike to Zuber in a small window. Zuber finished off the play for a 17-yard score.

Not too shabby for the kid’s first career touchdown pass. Jones’ next throw on the ensuing possession was a 30-yard strike to Devin Asiasi down to the New York 20. That drive also ended with a Patriots touchdown, as Rhamondre Stevenson powered his way in for another preseason touchdown.

Jones finished his final game of the preseason by going 10-for-14 for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Stevenson Finds The End Zone — Again

We just mentioned the other rookie, but Stevenson is worth bringing up again. His nine-yard touchdown in the third quarter was his fifth touchdown of the preseason. You read that right: He found the end zone five times in three games.

There will be no redshirt year in New England for this rookie running back.

Joejuan Williams

Once considered a potential bust, Williams has worked his way into the equation at cornerback with some solid preseason play. Against the Giants, he kept Evan Engram out of the end zone on a big hit early in the second quarter, bringing the tight end down to at the one-yard line. Williams also played had some solid coverage throughout the game.

Josh Uche

The second-year linebacker ended New York’s first possession when he sacked Daniel Jones on a third-and-5. Uche was also up on Jones when he was picked off by D’Angelo Ross in the end zone, showing off his ability to apply some nice pressure throughout the game.

Overall, it was another solid evening from the New England defense up and down the roster.

J.J. Taylor

Taylor is only 5-foot-6. He showed that size doesn’t matter on this play, where he leveled Leonard Williams, who is nearly a foot taller and over 100 pounds heavier.

Taylor also had a nice 21-yard run just ahead of halftime, and moved the sticks on a third-and-4 carry to start the second half before another huge run for 18 yards. Taylor finished with 76 yards on nine carries, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt.

He also had 13 yards on two catches and returned three punts for 28 yards, including a nice 23-yard return. There is little doubt that he’ll be on the 53-man roster come Tuesday afternoon.

Kickers

Nick Folk made a 41-yarder for his first — and only — field goal of the preseason. The vet should have the job all sealed up, but Quinn Nordin bounced back Sunday after an atrocious game in Philly.

The undrafted rookie hit a 48-yarder when first called upon and added a 37-yard boot in the fourth quarter. He was also true on his one extra-point try. He did, however, miss a 54-yard attempt in the final 30 seconds to rob him of a perfect evening.

The kicking gig likely belongs to Folk but maybe Nordin secured a spot on the practice squad, or at the very least, in Belichick’s Rolodex as an emergency option.

Downs

First Half Quarterbacking

Neither quarterback was particularly great in the first half of their final preseason game.

Newton went out there with the starters for two series and was just 2-for-5, including the interception that wasn’t all on him. But since he was out there with the first team, making him a perfect three-for-three on that front this preseason, all signs are pointing to Cam starting against the Dolphins in two weeks.

Jones was just 2-for-6 and was sacked twice in the first half. Receivers couldn’t seem to get open for Cam and Gunner Olszewski had a bad drop for Mac, but overall, the QB play left a lot to be desired in the first half.

Trent Brown

The veteran lineman had a bad false start on a third-and-2 from the New England 11, which backed things up five yards. Newton, throwing out of the end zone, was picked off the very next play.

As long as Brown got that kind of penalty out of his system for the regular season, all is good. But it wasn’t a great way to end the team’s final preseason look at Newton and the first teamers on offense.

Gunner’s Drop

Jones delivered a perfect pass to Olszewski in stride on the first play of New England’s fourth drive, but the receiver simply dropped it. Instead of a big gain to get things started, the Pats got nada. Mac went Gunner’s way again on third-and-12, but the pass was knocked out of his hands and the drive was over after just three plays (and a penalty).

Olszewski’s job is safe, but he did not catch either of the passes that went his way Sunday evening.

Michael Jackson

Jackson was called for a hold in the end zone, negating an incomplete pass (and some solid defense by Williams) on a 3rd-and-8. A few plays later on 2nd-and-Goal, Jackson was called for too many men on the field. D’Angelo Ross picked off Jones’ bootleg pass to the end zone the next play, and another corner stepping up and making plays doesn’t bode well for Jackson making the team after being flagged for two penalties in a three-play span.

He was also burned on New York’s fourth quarter touchdown. Not a great evening for Michael Jackson Sr.

 

CBSBoston.com Staff