Aug 22, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks with quarterback Tom Brady (12) during a break in the action as they take on the Carolina Panthers in the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots vs. Panthers Final Score: Pats Dominate, Win 30-7

In their third, and most important preseason game of the year, the Patriots put on a show, dominating the Carolina Panthers by a score of 30-7. The starters played into the third quarter, and while the backups didn’t play as well as the top guys did, they continued to beat up the Panthers.

The Pats offense started out slow, as they were forced to punt on their first two drives, but they followed that up with six consecutive scoring drives, led by Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Brady was particularly impressive, as he just sliced apart one of the best defenses in football. Whether it was Julian Edelman, Shane Vereen, or Danny Amendola, Brady was constantly finding open receivers, on his way to an incredibly efficient night. Brady completed 17 of 21 passes, for 204 yards, and two scores. Jimmy Garoppolo played good as well, as we went nine for 12, for 105 yards, and one touchdown.

Mallett only attempted three passes, but it has become clear that he is the backup to Tom Brady. Bill Belichick decided to put Mallett in the game for Brady in the first quarter, in an attempt to practice an “emergency” situation. You never know when Brady may have to come out of a game, and by putting Mallett in, I think that shows us Belichick sees Mallett as the official backup.

More importantly for the offense, they went up against the best front sevens in the NFL, and didn’t give up one single sack. And they were playing without right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. This is huge to me, because it shows they can hold up against just about anybody in the league. When Brady has time to sit back in the pocket, the opposing defense has absolutely no chance. Especially when that guy named Rob Gronkowski makes his return to the field.

The defense played great as well, giving up only seven points all game long. The starters once again dominated, and they did it without Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, and Brandon Browner. The run defense was stout, the secondary was absolutely perfect, and the defensive line went nuts, specifically Chandler Jones.

The third year pass rusher out of Syracuse was all over the field, making a number of terrific stops in the running game, and constantly getting pressure on Cam Newton. Having a good secondary behind him certainly helps, but  Jones is going to have a huge 2014 campaign. Jones has gotten better each year he has been in the league, and in 2014, he will be a handful for every offensive line that has to face this Patriots defense.

Alfonzo Dennard made his preseason debut, and was solid in coverage. Having his services in the back end this year will be vital for the Patriots defense. Malcom Butler once again started opposite Darrell Revis, as the Pats prepare to play the first four games without Brandon Browner. Many have commented on this, but I wantedt to reiterate it. If New England’s defense can stay healthy, they will be one of the best units in the entire league. There is no weakness in this group, as we saw once again tonight. I am very excited to see them perform each week during the regular season.

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