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Patriots-Giants: 10 things we learned from New England’s 40-38 loss

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The Patriots lost, but we still had fun.

NFL: New York Giants at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots came back from a 34-14 deficit against the New York Giants to take a 38-37 lead, but allowed the Giants to march down the field during the final 48 seconds of the game to kick a field goal and win 40-38.

There were plenty of good things about the Patriots offense, just like there were plenty of horrible, please-don’t-make-me-watch-it-again things about the defense. This is what we learned.

1. The Patriots back-up defenders were #NotGood but that’s okay

I could argue that just three or four defenders had good games. EDGE Geneo Grissom led the way with a sack and a handful of pressures; he might have won a roster spot thanks to his performance, the Patriots lack of depth at the position, and his special teams ability.

DB Damarius Travis was extremely active with 10 tackles and a forced fumble and recovery, but he did allow a lot of plays in coverage- even if he wasn’t the man, he wasn’t a deterrence, which is a big aspect of the job for a safety. CB Kenny Moore had 7 tackles and a pass defended, but he allowed some completions on third down. CB Will Likely had 6 tackles and a pass defended out of the slot, in addition to some punt returns.

But who else are the Patriots playing on defense? Grissom might make the team. DT Woodrow Hamilton will likely go to the practice squad, along with LB Trevor Bates. The Patriots didn’t play anyone on defense that’s expected to contribute in the regular season and only a couple are even considered for the practice squad.

Their performance against the Giants is not representative of what the Patriots defense will be in 2017.

The Patriots lost 40-38, but that was a surprisingly fun game. What'd you think?

Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Thursday, August 31, 2017

2. QB Jacoby Brissett had his best day as a Patriot

Brissett finished the day 28 of 39 (71.8%) for 341 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception, in addition to 4 rushes for 29 yards and a touchdown. That interception was a pick-six, but the blame should be shared between Brissett and RT Conor McDermott, who whiffed on the cut block.

While his accuracy wasn’t consistent all the time, Brissett was finding his target and putting the ball where they could at least try to come down with it- a big improvement over the prior couple weeks of the preseason. If he can continue to improve, then maybe the Patriots would be more comfortable with their quarterback position heading into 2018, regardless of where Jimmy Garoppolo signs.

3. Tom Brady has a great reaction to Jacoby Brissett’s scrambling for a score

Brady hasn’t seen those moves since he juked Brian Urlacher into outer space.

“I think [that’s] a tribute to the respect that each guy on the team has for his teammates and vice versa,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about Brady and the veterans supporting the younger players. “It’s not something you can legislate. It’s not something you can mandate. It’s just spontaneous and that’s the way it should be.”

4. Brady and Rob Gronkowski also react well to Brissett avoiding a sack

THROW IT THROW IT THROW IT

HOW DO YOU NOT GET SACKED THERE

I love when the team captains are still so invested in the back-ups in the final minute of the fourth preseason game.

“You can hear them,” Brissett said about the veterans on the sideline. “Even when we were on the sideline before we went out, they’re just going crazy. You know, that’s so fun to see. You get kind of caught up in it’s the NFL so you’ve got to kind of, not not have fun, but it’s just so serious. And then you see a lot of the guys that you look up to in the locker room, you see the Tom’s [Brady] and you see the [Devin] McCourty’s and you see Duron [Harmon] and things like that and you’re just like, ‘Man, this is fun.’ Like, you know, you’re going out there and just playing football.”

5. We hope Cyrus Jones is okay and will recover quickly

The Patriots 2016 second round pick suffered what is considered a serious injury to his right knee and is expected to miss a lot of time, if not the whole season. He entered the game as the sixth cornerback on the depth chart and we know this because he was on the field.

Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Justin Coleman, and Jonathan Jones did not play, which implies that they should make the team, leaving Cyrus at the bottom of that list.

Hopefully Cyrus Jones can recover quickly and contribute in 2018.

6. The Patriots depth at punt returner is very shallow

The Patriots have lost WR Julian Edelman and CB Cyrus Jones in consecutive weeks and now the team does not have a punt returner. WR Danny Amendola is the most experienced at the role, but he’s also too important to the offense with the loss of Edelman. S Patrick Chung and WR Brandin Cooks are the only two other Patriots with NFL experience returning punts and they’re too valuable as well.

Will Likely was a star punt returner in college and could be a dark horse to make the team, while D.J. Foster is another option as he has returned punts for the Patriots in the preseason. But there isn’t a solid answer on the roster and that points to Bill Belichick making a trade for a punt returner in the next week.

7. The coaching order of succession has been named

As is tradition, the Patriots coordinators did not call the plays in the final preseason game, instead handing the headset over to the next-in-command. On offense, WR coach Chad O’Shea earned the nod, while LB coach Brian Flores called the defense for the second-straight year.

Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia are both serious head coaching candidates for 2018- arguably both in the top five- and the Patriots are preparing for the future.

8. Stephen Gostkowski was perfect on the day

Gostkowski hit a 55-yard potential game-winner with a minute left in the game. He connected on all five of his extra point attempts. He was pretty much perfect on kickoffs with five touchbacks and the Giants average drive off a kickoff starting on the 25-yard line.

Let’s hope he finds some consistency, but he was certainly on the money for the day. He finishes the preseason 11 of 12 on extra points and 8 of 9 on field goals with the one field goal miss on a reasonable 56-yard attempt. He’ll be fine.

9. The Patriots are really bad at beating the New York Giants

The Patriots have faced the Giants in the fourth preseason game every year since 2005 and have a 3-10 record.

2005: L 3-27
2006: L 23-31
2007: W 27-20
2008: L 14-19
2009: W 38-27
2010: L 17-20
2011: L 17-18
2012: L 3-6
2013: W 28-20
2014: L 13-16
2015: L 9-12
2016: L 9-17
2017: L 38-40

That’s crazy, right?

10. More Patriots players rested than actually played

Of the 49 players that didn’t play, two (Julian Edelman, Derek Rivers) should go to the injured reserve, while rookies Keionta Davis, Tony Garcia, Andrew Jelks, and Josh Augusta are ideal candidates for the injured reserve. Add in the three specialists and Brissett and Karras and there are roughly four open roster spots, depending on the health of Shea McClellin and Nate Ebner.

Who were the best four Patriots tonight? Because they’ll probably get a roster spot.

Also, note that this isn’t perfect. Harvey Langi is listed as a substitute and he definitely didn’t play. Neither did Justin Coleman. That could bring the total of open spots down to two. My money goes to James O’Shaughnessy and EDGE Geneo Grissom.