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Patriots vs. Giants: New England drops preseason opener 23-21

The first game of preseason is in the books.

Pre]season - New England Patriots vs New York Giants Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The preseason is officially upon on. The New England Patriots took the field for the first time this summer as they welcomed the New York Giants to Gillette Stadium for both teams’ preseason opener.

The Patriots, who rested most of their starters on both sides of the ball, did have some solid moments. At the end of the day, however, they fell short with a final score of 23-21.

Final Score: Patriots 21 : 23 Giants

August 11, 7:00 pm ET | Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA

First quarter

After winning the coin toss, the Giants elected to put the offense on the field first. New York marched right down the field against the Patriots’ defense that mainly featured backups. The Giants were able to strike on a pair of run-pass options plays for big gains, but stalled down near the goal line settling for a field goal. [Patriots 0 : 3 Giants]

Taking over after a touchback, Brian Hoyer and the Patriots’ offense could not make much happen. After a completion to Kristian Wilkerson and a handful of touches from J.J. Taylor, New England was hurt from a Justin Herron false start and an eventual third down drop by Tre Nixon.

New York was not able to build off their strong first drive the second time around. The Patriots’ defense made life difficult dialing up the pressure as Josh Uche recorded a sack after Sam Roberts applied the initial pressure. Uche again got in the backfield on third down, forcing Jones to quickly get rid of the ball.

Using a 30-yard punt return by Myles Bryant to their advantage, Hoyer and the same starting offensive unit got right to work on their second drive. After a long incompletion to Tyquan Thornton, which drew an illegal contact, Hoyer struck on a similar play to Kristian Wilkerson the very next play for 33-yards. Several plays later, Hoyer found Thornton, who fought through a hold, in the back of the end zone for a two-yard score. [Patriots 7 : 3 Giants]

Second quarter

Starting the second quarter, the Patriots defense again made life difficult for the Giants offense, which was led by backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Despite a completion to an open Collin Johnson, cornerback Terrance Mitchell was able to punch the ball out forcing a fumble which was recovered by Malcolm Butler.

With Bailey Zappe now under center, the Patriots offense was not able to take advantage of the turnover. Haunted by a pair of penalties, including Justin Herron’s second of the evening, the offense went backwards before punting it away.

New York took back over and had their drive extended by a questionable pass interference call on Shaun Wade. The Patriots defense rebounded quickly, forcing a quick punt shortly after.

After a seven-yard completion to Tyquan Thornton to start the Patriots drive, an incompletion to Matt Sokol and drop by Kevin Harris forced a quick three-and-out for New England.

Looking for some momentum before halftime, the Giants offense found the groove. Taylor found bth Richie James and Collin Johnson for solid gains, one being a typical Patriots vs. Giants circus catch on a ball that was redirected up into the air and caught by James. Several plays later, James beat Joejuan Williams near the goal line for a score. [Patriots 7 : 10 Giants]

Getting the ball back with just under four minutes until half, New England got off to a strong start with a third-down completion from Zappe to Kristian Wilkerson. The drive stalled however, and Zappe was sacked by Trenton Thompson on third-down.

With less than two minutes remaining and starting at their own 19-yard line, the Giants played conservative, but found success. After gaining 25 yards on three straight runs, New York started to get aggressive with under 30 seconds in the half. After two straight incompletions, a third down catch-and-run by Gary Brightwell kept the drive alive. New England’s defense held strong, forcing four straight incompletions to go into halftime.

Third quarter

Receiving the opening kickoff to start the second half, Zappe and the offense got moving. The rookie quarterback connected with Tre Nixon on a 36-yard completion, then came back to Nixon on a 32-yard completion down the left sideline several plays later. Nixon showcased nice adjustments on both receptions. Shortly after, Kevin Harris plunged in a three-yard score to regain the lead. [Patriots 14 : 10 Giants]

In their first drive of the second half, the Davis Webb led Giants had no issues moving the ball down the field, and got some help by cornerback Joejuan Williams who extended the drive with a penalty. In the red area, a ten-yard completion from Webb to Alec Bachman put the Giants in scoring position. They capitalized two plays later on a two-yard score from Antonio Williams. [Patriots 14 : 17 Giants]

Looking to build off their previous scoring drive, New England spread the ball around often. A pair of handoffs to Pierre Strong and completions to Tre Nixon, as well as a short completion to Lil’Jordan Humphrey, had the offense on the move. A deep incompletion to Kristian Wilkerson, in which he looked for a pass interference, and a completion to Strong for no gain however forced the Patriots to punt.

The Patriots defense held strong as they retook the field, forcing a three-and-out after a third down incompletion from Webb to Keelan Doss.

Fourth quarter

New England’s passing attack to end the third quarter and kick off the fourth got off to a strong start. Zappe completed three straight completions, one to Kristian Wilkerson and two to Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Success was limited after that, as Zappe’s fourth-and-one pass intended for Josh Hammond was tipped and intercepted by Austin Calitro.

Looking to perhaps put their stamp on the final score, the Giants drive got off to a strong start thanks to a questionable roughing the passer penalty on New England’s Nate Wieland. Later on, New York converted a fourth-and-one on the ground, extending their drive to set up an eventual 40-yard field goal from Graham Gano. [Patriots 14 : 20 Giants]

A 25-yard kickoff return by J.J. Taylor got the Patriots drive started with just over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, Zappe fired a back shoulder ball for a 14-yard completion to Wilkerson. New England struggled finding success afterwards, as a third-down pass to Tre Nixon was knocked away, forcing a punt.

Taking the field with 8:36 left in the game, the Giants quickly went three-and-out. After two straight runs, Jeremiah Pharms Jr. broke up a third-down pass at the line of scrimmage.

Searching for a go-ahead score, Wilkerson hauled in a completion on the left sideline and drew a face mask penalty that tacked 15-yards on and moved the ball past midfield. Zappe went right back to Wilkerson the very next play for an eight-yard completion, which Pierre Strong followed with a nine-yard run hitting a cut-back lane opened by Arlington Hambright. After a string of incompletions, Zappe found Lil’Jordan Humphrey on a 20-yard touchdown pass to take the lead. [Patriots 21 : 20 Giants]

With under five minutes remaining, the Giants started their drive with a 19-yard gain by Antonio Williams. After Ronnie Perkins later broke up a second-down pass, the Giants converted a third-and-three on a completion to Jashaun Corbin. Despite an offensive holding penalty that put New York behind the sticks, they responded with a play-action rollout to Austin Allen for a first-down. Under the two minute warning, Sandro Platzgummer bounced outside for a 15-yard gain to the Patriots’ 12-yard line. After a pair of runs to let the clock wind down to four seconds, Graham Gano buried the game-winning field goal as time expired. [Patriots 21 : 23 Giants]