The New England Patriots wrapped up the 2010 preseason with a 20-17 loss to the New York Giants. The defense couldn’t hold on to a late 17-12 lead, allowing the Giants to score on a 60-yard pass down the middle and convert the two-point conversion. The starters for both the offensive and defensive units played two series apiece and had mixed results. On the defense’s opening series, Eli Manning and the Giant offense torched the ‘D’ for 86 yards in 9 plays and a touchdown, but botched the extra point/two-point conversion. The Patriot offense responded and scored a touchdown on an 8-play, 45-yard drive that was set up by a 55-yard kick-off return by RB Thomas Clayton. The Pats scored on a 5-yard pass from Tom Brady to rookie TE Rob Gronkowski.
On the ensuing Giants drive, the defense was able to stop the Manning-led offense and force a punt. However, Brady tossed an interception to Antrel Rolle on a deep pass attempt to Randy Moss that was under-thrown. With that, the starters’ night was over on both the offense and the defense. From there, we saw some pretty interesting combinations on the field, with rookie offensive linemen seeing time on the defensive line and rookie WR Buddy Farnham seeing time at safety. Laurence Maroney finally saw some extensive time on the field with the back-ups, and finished the night with 32 yards on 9 carries (3.6 YPC average). Back-up QB Brian Hoyer has shown his maturation on the field and did a commendable job between a Swiss cheese offensive line. Hoyer took a beating throughout the night, getting hit on virtually every pass attempt. He finished the night 15/26 for 266 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
After a poor showing last week, rookie CB Devin McCourty had a good game with tight coverage on receivers and showed his tackling ability as well. He finished with 3 tackles and 1 pass-defensed. G Rich Ohrnberger had a golden opportunity tonight starting the game at right guard in place of Stephen Neal. He had an inconsistent night. He looked OK with the starters on the field, but struggled at times when he stayed on the field with the back-ups. On the Brian Hoyer INT, Ohrnberger was beaten badly (and embarrassingly if you watch the tape) by Jay Alford, who forced a bad Hoyer pass. I don’t feel too definitively about most of the back-up offensive linemen to say who will and will not make this team. Let’s face it, they have struggled as a unit.
Nobody else on the team really stood out to make an impact and say, “Hey, I deserve a roster spot.” One player that did stand out to me, albeit on the Giants, was LB Bryan Kehl. Kehl, who is entering his third year in the league, showed good speed and awareness on some key plays in the game. In the third quarter, Kehl ran down WR Rod Owens from behind to make the tackle. Owens went 67 yards on the play, and Kehl was about 10 yards or so away from the initial catch. That was certainly an eye-opening effort. On the same drive on 4th and goal, Kehl, who was lined up away from the side the play was run to, came across the formation and made the tackle to prevent BenJarvus Green-Ellis from getting into the end zone. I’m not sure his standing on the Giants, but he certainly seems like an asset on special teams if he becomes available. He’s a little light to play OLB in the 3-4, weighing only 237 pounds. Most of the OLBs on the Pats are in the 250-pound range.
The focus now will be on the regular season opener against the Bengals a week from Sunday. Later on I’ll recap the “5 to Watch” and do one more roster projection before the final cut on Saturday.