The New England Patriots wrapped up the preseason on Sunday night with a 22-20 win over the New York Giants in the Meadowlands.
It was more of the same for the Patriots, who wrapped up their first perfect summer since 2003 as Cam Newton started at quarterback and just played two series. Mac Jones got the bulk of the work as he finished the day 10-of-14 with a touchdown. And New England’s ground game, led by Rhamondre Stevenson and JJ Taylor, picked up where they left off by rushing for 99 yards combined and a touchdown.
With roster cutdown set for Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, bubble players had one last opportunity to showcase themselves to the coaching staff. Let’s get into who stood out on Sunday night.
Winner: QB Mac Jones
Jones wrapped up his efficient preseason by throwing for 156 yards and his first career touchdown pass. The rookie relieved Newton early in the second quarter and picked up where he left off. Jones’ best drive of the night ended in three points, but he made some impressive throws down the field versus the Giants’ starting defense while running with the Patriots’ backup offensive line and skill players. His best throw of the day came on a seam route to tight end Devin Asiasi as he threw him open on a beautifully placed back-shoulder throw to convert on third down. Jones has shown flashes of just how smoothly he can run the offense despite his limited game action with the team’s top unit. He finished off his impressive preseason completing 62 percent of his passes for 352 yards and the score. Jones was consistently the best quarterback on the field again for the Patriots, but with all signs pointed towards Newton leading the team Week 1, it is uncertain when we will see the first-round pick again.
Winner: CB D’Angelo Ross
With roster cuts coming in a few days, D’Angelo Ross made a nice lasting impression on the Patriots’ coaching staff. With Jonathan Jones out due to injury, Ross got the start at slot corner for the Patriots on Sunday night. He made a big tackle on wide receiver Sterling Shepard early in the game on a third down that forced the Giants to punt, then picked off quarterback Daniel Jones in the end zone that would have gave New York the lead. Ross, an undrafted player who has battled his way from injured reserve to the practice the last couple seasons, might have played himself onto the roster.
Loser: WR Gunner Olszewski
We all have been waiting for Olszewski to come around as a wide receiver, but after a tough week at the position, he struggled with drops once again. There were two for Olszewski, who struggled to get open all night long. He dropped a perfect ball from Jones at the end of the first half that would have led to a big gain. Later on in the drive, it seemed as if Jones was unhappy with Olszewski, who ran the wrong route when the Patriots were running a two-minute offense. With his roster spot somewhat safe coming off an All-Pro season as a punt returner, Olszewski has yet to expand his role beyond that in his third year in New England.
Winner: RB J.J. Taylor
Even with how well Jones has played, Taylor was the star of the Patriots’ preseason. Coming into training camp, Taylor was on the outside looking in with a loaded running back room. However, his play helped lead to a Sony Michel trade earlier in the week and he continues to carve out a role for himself. Taylor finished up his impressive preseason with 23 carries for 179 yards and a touchdown while catching 10 passes as well. He looks to have played himself into a role in the Patriots’ backfield as a change-of-pace back that can come in and serve as a spark.
Winner: TE Devin Asiasi
With Hunter Henry still out and the Patriots thin at tight end, Asiasi finished up his preseason with a nice performance on Sunday night. He caught three passes for 58 yards and flashed his YAC ability. The UCLA product caught a beautifully placed back-shoulder ball from Jones and turned in a nice gain early on in the game when he took a crosser for 26 yards. Asiasi has continuously gotten better since starting camp on the Covid-19 list and can serve as a viable TE3 who can step in and play if Henry or Jonnu Smith were to miss time during the regular season.
Winner: RB Rhamondre Stevenson
Like Taylor, this is Stevenson’s third week in a row as a winner. He registered his league-leading fifth touchdown of the preseason and continued to show off his elite footwork and ability to run between the tackles. Stevenson ran the ball five times for 23 yards and a touchdown where he bounced off defenders and carried the pile across the goal line. His strong camp and preseason should have the Patriots feeling confident heading into September. Stevenson is someone who can step in and take the pressure off of Damien Harris to carry the bulk of the load.
Loser: CB Michael Jackson
It’s hard picking on guys who have virtually no shot of making the Patriots’ Week 1 roster, but Jackson’s play on Sunday night showcased just how sloppy preseason football can get at times. In a three-play stretch, Jackson gave up a big catch, was flagged for defensive holding and then on the ensuing down was flagged for 12 men on the field. It was a rough night for a cornerback who was battling for snaps at outside corner with Stephon Gilmore still on physically unable to perform.