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NFL preseason Patriots vs Giants game report: Wide receivers show their potential during New England’s 31-29 loss

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The final game of New England’s preseason is over.

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at New England Patriots Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots’ 2019 preseason is over: the team faced off against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium, with the visitors winning 31-29 on the final play of the game — the Patriots’ first loss in the four exhibition games this summer. The biggest stories coming out of the game, however, have little to do with the actual score but more with the players’ performances two days ahead of roster cutdown day.

With that in mind, let’s recap the game.

Starting lineups

Offense

LT Dan Skipper

LG Hjalte Froholdt

C James Ferentz

RG Tyler Gauthier

RT Tyree St. Louis

TE Stephen Anderson

TE Eric Saubert

QB Jarrett Stidham

RB Nick Brossette

WR Josh Gordon

WR Julian Edelman

Defense

DE Ufomba Kamalu

DT David Parry

DT Byron Cowart

DE/OLB Terez Hall

LB Calvin Munson

LB Scooby Wright III

OLB Christian Sam

CB Ken Webster

CB Keion Crossen

S Joejuan Williams

S Malik Gant

Game recap

First quarter

After receiving the opening coin toss, the Patriots offense entered the field — and rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham had an impressive receiving corps to work with: Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon started the game, with Demaryius Thomas and Jakobi Meyers also entering the field during the opening series. Edelman, Gordon and Thomas all registered catches on the series which stalled in the Giants red zone and was capped by a 31-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal. [Patriots 3 : 0 Giants]

The biggest story of the opening drive, other than the starting/top rotational wide receivers all seeing the field, was Julian Edelman appearing to hurt his left hand after his lone 20-yard reception. He left the field, but remained on the sideline looking okay but not wearing his glove. Edelman, of course, missed a considerable portion of training camp due to a broken thumb on the same hand he injured on the opening series of this game.

Behind first-round rookie Daniel Jones at quarterback, the Giants offense marched down the field quickly. Along the way, the Patriots had to burn a timeout for having too many defenders on the field. But while the series started badly for New England’s second/third-string defense, the unit was able to leave the field again without having surrendered points: thanks to a strong push from the interior defensive line, the Patriots stopped New York on a 4th and 1 rush to take over.

New England’s offense failed to take advantage of the turnover-on-downs. While the team moved the ball well early during the series, the drive ended with the first takeaway of Jarrett Stidham’s pro career: he took too long to get rid of the ball and got hit just as he wanted to release it, with the pass ending up in the arms of Giants safety Sean Chandler. New York was able to turn the interception into a touchdown on a 35-yard pass over cornerback Keion Crossen. [Patriots 3 : 7 Giants]

The Patriots’ next drive did not end any better, as the offense again gave the ball away on the very first play of the series: Jarrett Stidham and Demaryius Thomas were unable to connect on an end-around hand-off, leading to a fumble and a Giants recovery. Four plays later, the visitors added to their lead thanks to a 31-yard field goal. [Patriots 3 : 10 Giants]

Second quarter

New England was able to get some momentum back on its next series after the Giants’ field goal by driving 75 yards in just three plays. Thanks to a 35-yard defensive pass interference call drawn by Josh Gordon and a beautifully executed 35-yard back-shoulder touchdown pass from Stidham to Demaryius Thomas, the Patriots came within one point of tying the game. The ensuing two-point attempt fell incomplete, however, leaving the Giants up 10:9. [Patriots 9 : 10 Giants]

The Giants’ next offensive series came to a quick end as the team went three-and-out, in part because of a terrific pass breakup by Keion Crossen on 3rd and 11 — one that was celebrated by the entire Patriots sideline. New England continued to take over the game following the punt, with one player standing out in particular: first-year Patriot Demaryius Thomas added three more receptions with the final of which a 3-yard touchdown grab. [Patriots 16 : 10 Giants]

The world champions continued to take control of the game in the late second quarter. First, cornerback Keion Crossen registered an interception which set up a 40-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal that increased the Patriots’ lead to 19-10 — a kick that was perfectly executed one week after some struggles in this area. [Patriots 19 : 10 Giants]

The Patriots then added to their lead thanks to another touchdown that was set up by a turnover. Second-year cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. came away with the football after a deflected pass, and set up his team at the Giants 17-yard line. On the very next play, Jarrett Stidham went deep for Jakobi Meyers resulting in a defensive pass interference call. With the football placed on the 1-yard line, Nick Brossette scored on an off-tackle run. [Patriots 26 : 10 Giants]

The first half ended with the Patriots putting even more points on the board, once again thanks to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. This one, a 51-yarder, capped a four-play drive that went for 27 total yards. [Patriots 29 : 10 Giants]

Third quarter

New York received the second-half kickoff and was able to move the football well against the Patriots’ third-string defense — in part because the defense dropped two interceptions along the way. In the end, however, New England held in the red zone and forced the Giants to settle for a 27-yard field goal to cut their deficit to 16 points. [Patriots 29 : 13 Giants]

Following a short Patriots possession that ended with a Jake Bailey punt, the Giants again were able to drive down the field. This time it took the team 9 plays to cover 69 yards. The results was different this time around, though, as the Giants ended the series with a 27-yard touchdown pass over rookie safety Malik Gant. The Patriots did, however, hold their opponent out of the end zone on the two-point attempt after the touchdown. [Patriots 29 : 19 Giants]

After another New England three-and-out, the Giants were again able to drive into Patriots territory to end the third quarter.

Fourth quarter

New York’s series ended with another touchdown, but with the Patriots again denying their opponent a successful two-point try. In true fourth-quarter-of-the-presesaon form, undrafted rookie wide receiver/return specialist Gunner Olszewski was the one defending on the unsuccessful pass. Olszewski, of course, played as a cornerback at Bemidji State before changing positions this offseason. [Patriots 29 : 25 Giants]

With New England’s offense continuing to struggle in the second half, the defense was again back on the field quickly after the Giants’ touchdown. However, this time the unit did not surrender any points and instead forced a turnover on downs on a 4th and 3 pass attempt. In possession of the football again, the Patriots were able to milk the clock before a sack on 4th down forced the team to give up the possession.

The Giants drove down the field on their next series — the contest’s last one — and were able to score a game-winning touchdown on the final play. [Patriots 29 : 31 Giants]