In their first meeting since Super Bowl XLVI, the New England Patriots faced off against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. tonight. While this might sound like it was something exciting, it was instead a mostly uninspired way to end the preseason. With neither side really getting into a rhythm, it was a low scoring affair. The final saw the Giants win, 6-3.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided that he would rest most of his starters and focus on giving players further down the depth chart the chance to show why they should still be with the team when the 53-man roster comes out on Friday. As a result, the offense had no Tom Brady, no Brandon Lloyd and no Gronk.
Head coach Tom Coughlin of the Giants, on the other hand, did put in his starters early. And while at times, they were able to make plays on offense, more often than not, the Patriots second string defenders were up to the challenge of stopping Eli Manning and company from getting too far down the field. This was a very good thing to see from a defense that gave up a combined 57 points against the Eagles and Buccaneers.
Among the standouts on the defense for New England were linebacker Mike Rivera, who managed 12 tackles, 11 of them solo and 2 of them for a loss. Also making his presence known was veteran Jermaine Cunningham who managed to break through and hit the quarterback three times, two of those for sacks. It would not be surprising to see one or both of them make the final cut in a defense that needs help.
Unfortunately, the offense did not have as good a game. Ryan Mallett, who showed such promise at quarterback in the last couple of games, didn’t always seem able to quite hit his targets right. Sometimes he would throw too low. Other times he would miss a better opportunity to dump a pass for a short gain, or no gain at all. He ended up going 8-for-15 with a total of 40 yards passing and a quarterback rating of 59.0. Still, that 59.0 was better than the 51.0 of Brian Hoyer. Hoyer may have thrown for more yards (96) and completed one more pass (9-for-15) than Mallett, but he once again lost a fumble, this time setting up the Giants to make the go ahead field goal. He also threw an interception at the Giants 1-yard line, killing the final drive and ending the game.
The only scoring drive for the Patriots came in the second quarter, when Ryan Mallett led the team on a 48-yard drive that stalled at the Giants 2-yard line and had to settle for a field goal. Special teams featured four punt returns by running back Jeff Demps for a total of 49 return yards. They also allowed only three punt returns for eight total yards against the Giants.
Now that the final preseason game has been played, Bill Belichick will come up with a final 53-man roster. Those that don’t make the team will either be snatched up by another team, or will likely find themselves on the Patriots practice squad. The Patriots will then be able to begin preparing for their first regular season game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. EDT (10:00 a.m. PDT) from Nashville, TN.