The Patriots saw a handful of regulars play deep into their second preseason contest while quarterback Mac Jones played three total series. The result was New England taking home their first victory of the preseason, 20-10.
Live Score: Patriots 20 : 10 Panthers
August 19, 7:00 pm ET | Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA
The Patriots starting defense took the field first after deferring the coin toss and got right to work. After a defensive holding call on the first play from scrimmage, New England regrouped and quickly forced a Carolina punt.
With Mac Jones under center, the Patriots opened in 12 personnel with Damien Harris, Jonnu Smith, Devin Asiasi, DeVante Parker, and Jakobi Meyers. After a Harris six-yard carry, a pass slightly behind Parker was dropped before Jones was sacked by Julian Stanford on third-down. Stanford beat James Ferentz, who drew the start at right guard, forcing a Patriots punt.
Carolina’s second offensive drive got off to a hot start with P.J. Walker finding Keith Kirkwood for a 19-yard completion. Later in the drive, a pair of back-to-back sacks from Deatrich Wise and Josh Uche and a false start penalty on Carolina derailed their momentum, leading to another punt.
Mac Jones and the Patriots found little success yet again on drive number two. A quick three-and-out that featured two incompletions from Jones - a high miss to Jakobi Meyers and a miscommunication with Rhamondre Stevenson.
Matt Judon continued to makes his presence felt early, knocking down Walker’s first-down attempt at the line of scrimmage. That didn't stop Carolina’s offense, as they marched down the field highlighted by a 21-yard completion to Giovanni Ricci and a Christian Barmore roughing the passer penalty which tacked an additional 15-yards on top. New England’s defense held firm in the red zone, holding Carolina to a field goal. [Patriots 0 : 3 Panthers]
New England’s starting offense found some life on their third drive, as Mac Jones delivered a dime downfield to Nelson Agholor for a 45-yard gain. Three plays later, Ty Montgomery punched home a two-yard touchdown to give the Patriots the lead. [Patriots 7 : 3 Panthers]
Matt Corral took over for Carolina in their first drive in the second quarter and got some help as third-down pass interference call on Terrance Mitchell extended their drive. After one additional first down, Jonathan Jones broke up a third-down ball down the right sideline intended for Kirkwood, forcing a punt.
New England also made a QB change as Brian Hoyer replaces Jones. Hoyer started his first drive with a 17-yard completion to DeVante Parker for a first-down. Hoyer again found Tyquan Thornton for 12-yards, but the play was negated for too many players in the huddle. Damien Harris found some success in the zone-run game, but the Patriots were not able to overcome the earlier penalty and punted away.
After a completion to Stephen Sullivan, safety Joshuah Bledsoe delivered a strong hit to dislodge the football. The play was originally ruled incomplete, but a Bill Belichick challenge overturned the call. New England took over at the Carolina 26-yard after a clear recovery from Myles Bryant.
With Bailey Zappe now under center, New England was not able to fully capitalize on their turnover. A three-and-out led to a 38-yard field goal from Nick Folk. [Patriots 10 : 3 Panthers]
Another short three-and-out from Carolina with under two minutes remaining in the first half. For New England, Mack Wilson Sr. recorded a pass breakup reading Corral’s eyes on a double slant combo. He then helped Terrance Mitchell on third-down by getting Rashard Higgins on the ground short of the sticks.
With just over a minute in the first-half, Zappe took the field and got to work in a two-minute drill. The drive started with back-to-back completion to Devin Asiasi for 19-yards and Tre Nixon for 11-yards. an unnecessary roughness penalty on James Ferentz for a late hit on Kenny Robinson, who was ejected in both joint practices earlier this week, put a halt to the Patriots offense. They punted two plays later.
Carolina kneeled to go to halftime.
Zappe and Lil’Jordan Humphrey got off to a strong start on New England’s opening drive, connecting on a pair of receptions for 20- and 26-yards. A false start penalty on Yodney Cajuste and third-down sack by Brandon Smith derailed the Patriots’ progress. Tristan Vizcaino came on to handle kicking duties but pushed a 53-yard attempt far right.
With P.J. Walker back into the game for Carolina, the Panthers offense did not get the spark they were looking for. A throw Walker would like back was intercepted by Shaun Wade for New England’s second turnover of the night.
Looking to build on their lead after the turnover, Zappe found Tre Nixon for a first down before going right back to Humphrey in the air for gains of 16 and four. New England did not much find success of the ground however, as three straight Pierre Strong runs resulted in a turnover on downs.
Carolina continued their offensive struggles going three-and-out. Sam Roberts made a strong impact for New England bringing down Spencer Brown for a two-yard loss on the Panthers’ first play of the drive.
A promising start to the Patriots drive quickly turned into a disaster as Bailey Zappe’s pass towards Tre Nixon had no chance as Tae Hayes read and broke on the ball for an easy pick-six. [Patriots 10 : 10 Panthers]
J.J. Taylor got off to a strong start on the Patriots drive to end the third quarter with a strong blitz pickup - allowing Zappe to find Tre Nixon for eight yards - and then finding room on the ground on a 15-yard scamper. After a pair of deep passes (that should have been caught) fell incomplete to Josh Hammond and Nixon, Vizcaino nailed a 51-yard field goal to give New England the lead. [Patriots 13 : 10 Panthers]
With the Patriots back in the lead, Matt Corral was back under center for Carolina. The Panthers picked up one first down but continued to struggle against the New England defense. A pair of strong coverage reps from rookie Jack Jones, including a dropped interception on third down, forced Carolina into their sixth punt of the night.
Looking for the potential put-away touchdown, the Patriots leaned on rookie running back Pierre Strong to open the drive. After three straight runs from Strong and a scramble from Zappe, a false start from Drew Desjarlais put them behind the sticks. That led to an eventual punt, which Lil’Jordan Humphrey made a spectacular play on to pin the Panthers offense at the four-yard line.
Pinned deep in their own territory, Corral and the Panthers continued to move backwards. Between two false start penalties and a sack by Anfernee Jennings, the Panthers were backed up to their own two-yard line. Corral then completed a 12-yard completion to Ra’Shaun Henry on third downs, allowing their punter some breathing room.
Starting with strong field position at the Carolina 40-yard line, a third-down false start penalty moved New England back to a 3rd-and-7. After a Zappe completion to Matt Sokol for six yards, the Patriots dialed up the aggressiveness on 4th-and-1. J.J. Taylor originally converted the run, but Sokol was called for a hold setting up a 4th-and-11 and a Patriots punt.
P.J. Walker replaced Corral for the Panthers at quarterback for their final two-minute drill. New England was ready, as Ronnie Perkins registered a sack and DaMarcus Mitchell forced a fumble which Sam Roberts recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. [Patriots 20 : 10 Panthers]
With one last prayer, Walker found Jared Scott for 10-yards and Derek Wright for a 32-yard gain to get the drive started. Walker’s next pass was intercepted by Brenden Schooler.
New England kneels to end game. [Patriots 20 : 10 Panthers]