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Preseason week 4 Patriots vs Giants: 6 winners and 4 losers of New England's 40-38 loss

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New England's preseason is over. Let's take a look at who stood out in the final game.

Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots' 2017 preseason came to an end yesterday, when the team lost its fourth exhibition game 40-38 against the visiting New York Giants. The Patriots played an up-and-down game and ultimately came close to winning but a last-second field goal by New York led to the loss and New England will finish the preseason with a 1-3 record.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at individual players who were or were not successful yesterday.

Winner: QB Jacoby Brissett

New England's third-string quarterback was the team's best offensive player. Brissett played the entire game and finished with 28 pass completions (on 39 attempts; 71.8%) for 341 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He also added four rushes for 29 yards and a score. His numbers were not the only impressive part of his performance: The 24-year old looked poised in the pocket, moved well, made mostly solid decisions and some very good throws. While not all was perfect – his pick-6 comes to mind –, Brissett showed that he belonged on the 53-man roster.

Loser: The backup defense

With starters and roster locks sitting the preseason finale out, the Patriots' backup defense saw all the action. And it struggled big time, especially early in the game. After forcing a turnover on New York's first possession, the unit allowed five straight scoring drives en route to a 34-14 halftime score. The Giants had no issues moving the football on the ground or through the air. While the defense settled down in the second half, its performance against Geno Smith and New York's backup offense was a disaster.

Winner: DT Woodrow Hamilton

While the collective success of the defense was negligible, there were a few exceptions. One of them was second-year defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton, who appears to be fighting for a practice squad spot. Hamilton finished with five tackles – one of which for loss – and generally had a disruptive night. A fourth down stand on the Giants' first drive of the second half is a good example for that as the 24-year old was able to initiate pressure from the interior defensive line leading to Nick Usher's drive-stopping tackle.

Loser: LB Jonathan Freeny

Freeny was by no means bad yesterday as he finished tied for the team lead with 10 tackles and was moving well as an off-the-ball linebacker. However, the simple fact that he played 73 of a possible 75 snaps in the preseason finale, when the roster locks and veterans were generally sitting out, does not bode well for the veteran. He could still make the team, but at this point appears to be on the outside looking in – and yesterday's game seems to have confirmed this.

Winner: DE Geneo Grissom

Grissom playing all 75 defensive snaps could mean that he also is in the same category as Freeny. However, there are two differences when it comes to the defenders' respective situations: Grissom looked better against second and third stringers and finished with four tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit. As opposed to Freeny, the 25-year old also has not been active for the prior two preseason games. His high snap count might therefore simply be the result of the coaching staff trying to give him as many snaps as possible before the regular season starts. And during those snaps, Grissom might have been able to solidify his standing on the roster.

Loser: FB Glenn Gronkowski

His brother Rob sat the game out and Glenn Gronkowski did also not see a lot of playing time. He finished with 12 snaps and failed to make a positive impact as both a blocker and receiver – quite the opposite actually. Gronkowski caught one pass but fumbled the football, resulting in a change of possession. For a players aiming at the practice squad, a play like this could mean the difference between making it or not.

Winner: WR Devin Lucien

Brissett's favorite target of the day was second-year wide receiver Devin Lucien. The former seventh round draft pick was targeted seven times, catching five passes for 92 yards and a touchdown – all numbers are team-highs. He looked good as a route runner and catcher of the football, as his lone touchdown of the day demonstrates. While a roster spot still appears to be out of reach, Lucien certainly continued to state his case for the practice squad.

Loser: CB Cyrus Jones

After a rocky start to training camp and later the preseason, Cyrus Jones appeared to be on an upwards trajectory as of late as both a punt returner and a cornerback. Unfortunately, however, he hit a road block yesterday: Midway through the second quarter, the former second round draft pick injured his knee on an incomplete pass. As has been reported later, the team fears that Jones tore his ACL and will effectively miss his sophomore season.

Winner: CB Will Likely

One man's sorrow is another man's joy. With Jones seemingly having to spend the season on the sidelines, the Patriots have a sudden opening at punt returner and backup cornerback. The player most likely to benefit is the player named Likely: Rookie cornerback Will Likely. The 22-year old saw some work in that area in college and was the next man up, once Jones went down. And while Likely was a long-shot to make the team prior to yesterday's game, he now appears to be on the inside track to replace Jones on the active roster.

Winner: K Stephen Gostkowski

One week after kicking the game-winner against the Detroit Lions, Gostkowski had another solid performance. He made all five of his extra point attempts and also put the Patriots ahead late in the fourth quarter with a 55-yard field goal. And while, yes, it is only preseason, seeing Gostkowski convert on all six of his attempts is an encouraging sign moving forward and a sure confidence booster for a player, that has had his fair share of ups and downs last season.