I had the pleasure of being at Gillette Stadium last night for the Patriots-Giants preseason finale. The Giants came out on top, winning 18-17. The Pats put out their first units to start the game, and Tom Brady played 18 snaps into the second quarter. The Giants played their second-stringers, so the enthusiasm for the Patriots’ great start to the game has to be tempered somewhat. There were some surprising players that stepped up, and a couple of debuts that had the fans in the stadium excited.
Here are some quick first impressions:
- Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis made their debut in the game and flashed what they can do in this defense. The starting defensive line for the Pats consisted of Andre Carter at right defensive end, Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth at defensive tackle, and Shaun Ellis at left defensive end. They got some serious penetration. Any time Haynesworth was shown on the big screen, or especially when his name was mentioned for making a tackle, the crowd erupted. Go HERE for some play-by-play analysis of Haynesworth’s performance. Ellis was able to take David Carr down for a sack, so all in all it was a good first night for this formidable unit.
- Rob Ninkovich forced a fumble on the Giants’ first play of the game. The guy always seems to be around a big play.
- Matthew Slater has been a real surprise this preseason. He showed why he’s such a great special teams player all preseason (last night he had 2 solo tackles), but he’s also started to get opportunities in the passing game. He made a great catch on a drag route and turned it into a 64-yard gain. There’s no way he doesn’t make the team.
- Another surprise player to step up was CB Antwaun Molden. Molden just joined the team a couple of days ago, but he played in sub packages with the first unit and then most of the second half. He had two passes defensed, and they were nice looking plays. I don’t know if he did enough to stick when final cuts come down with his limited time here, but he certainly made a case for himself.
- Seeing Danny Woodhead live gave me a new appreciation for how quick he is. A quick cut here, maybe another quick cut there, and he’s down-field. He wasn’t out on the field long, but when he is out there goo dthings usually happen. He’s not going to carry the load, but you can’t win in the NFL without guys like Woodhead on your team.
- Speaking of Woodhead, one of the more comical moments of the night was a fan who had a plastic piece of wood on his head, with Woodhead’s number on it. I don’t know if that’s his creation or something now being sold to the masses, but it’s a golden idea!
- Ryan Mallett did not have a good night, but that goes without saying if you saw the game. Many of the guys he was playing with (but certainly not all) will not be on the team come Saturday, so that has to be factored in. What I especially didn’t like, and I’m not sure if this showed up on the TV showing of the game, was his frustration with his teammates. He was visibly frustrated on the field, and looked like he was coming unglued. You have to have more poise on the field, and save some of that frustration for the sidelines and anything else that’s left for the locker room, not the field. What especially tweeked me was that some of his problems, like th e5 times he was sacked, was at least partially his fault. You’ve got to show better poise and leadership, rookie.
- Brandon Meriweather didn’t see the field until the second half with the 3rd and so-to-be-no-more stringers. We’ll know for sure in a couple of days when cuts and trades come if that meant anything or not.