Quick-hit thoughts from the Patriots 18-17 loss to the New York Giants:
Patriots Starters Bounce Back. Overall, the Patriots starters did a decent job in bouncing back from the Lions debacle. Tom Brady and both starting groups played nearly the entire first half, entering the break with a 17-3 lead. On the night, Tom Brady was far from spectacular, but looked solid enough to warrant a passing grade.
Haynesworth, Ellis Step Up in Debuts. Along the defensive line, two major offseason acquisitions for the Patriots, Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis, both debuted. Ellis started the game at left end, picking up a pressure and a second quarter sack. Haynesworth started at defensive tackle and rotated in and out, pushing the pocket on pass plays, and coming up with a nice run-stop.
Defense Takes Advantage of Opportunities. The Patriots' top defense let up some yards, but came up with three key turnovers in the first half which helped stall Giants drives and set the team up in scoring position. Devin McCourty's interception on the second drive was a real beauty.
Reserve Offensive Line Struggles. The ugliest part of tonight's game was probably the play of the reserve offensive line for the Patriots. The unit really struggled, with Jonathan Compas standing out in particular with his poor play.
Molden, Underwood Solid in Debuts. Tiquan Underwood and Antwaun Molden, two recent Patriots pick-ups, each made some plays in tonight's game. Underwood was a frequent target of Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, coming up with four grabs (although he did have a drop). Molden had a nice pass breakup in the second half, and picked up three total tackles.
Frustrating Fourth Quarter Collapse from Third Unit. The Patriots, deep into their reserves, had a 17-3 fourth quarter lead and were seemingly in control. However, the Giants faked a punt, with Da'Rel Scott taking the ball 65 yards into the end zone. Kind of strange, a team faking a punt in the fourth quarter of a final preseason game, but the Patriots should have been prepared. Shortly after that, Richard Medlin had a fumble that was picked up by the Giants' Derrick Martin, who took the ball into the end zone. The Giants went for two and converted, and took the lead 18-17. The Patriots offense had a couple of chances to retake the lead, but their offensive line simply couldn't hold up to the Giants pass rush.
Preseason Over, Final Cuts and Dolphins Next. Tonight's loss to the Giants marked the end of a very up-and-down preseason for the Patriots. And now, the real fun begins. Rosters will have to be cut down to 53 players by Saturday, so we'll be sure to see a lot of roster moves in the next day and a half. Following that, the team will take on the Miami Dolphins on Monday, September 12th.