The Patriots rallied from 21 points down to beat the Saints in their 2nd preseason game, giving them a record of 1-1.
Did Not Play: WR Julian Edelman, WR Aaron Dobson, WR Brandon LaFell, CB Darryl Roberts, FB Eric Kettani, RB Travaris Cadet, LB Dane Fletcher, LB Eric Martin, OL Marcus Cannon, OL Ryan Wendell, C Bryan Stork, OL Caylin Hauptmann, DE Rufus Johnson, DT Joe Vellano, DE Trey Flowers, WR Brian Tyms, TE Jake Bequette, TE Scott Chandler, and DT Chris Jones.
Rob Gronkowski sat the game out, although not for injury reasons.
Devin McCourty started the game at cornerback and no this isn’t a permanent move. The Patriots love experimenting during the preseason, and it’s the perfect time to do so. McCourty did break up an almost touchdown, so it wasn’t the worse night for him, but it was pretty bad. McCourty is a much better safety than corner and again he proved that last night. Duron Harmon, isn’t ready to be the starting FS either, proving also, that’s where McCourty belongs.
The Saints marched up the field on their opening drive with a nice Mark Ingram run, and a catch where he beat LB Jamie Collins. Brees threw a pass to Brandon Coleman but McCourty broke up the touchdown to hold the Saints to 3 points.
The Patriots offense with Brady at the helm would go three and out three times during Brady’s three series in the game. Brady finished 2-5 for 13 yards. He was without most of his starting wide receivers and tight ends. The OL was better for him and throughout the game, missing only one starter, Bryan Stork.
The Saints would go back down the field with a Brees to Cooks connection that beat McCourty in soft coverage. Brees would then find former Patriots tight end Ben Watson for a 10 yard score. LB Jonathan Freeny was burned badly on the play.
After Brady’s last series, the Saints would march right back up the field and see Brees find Cooks on a 45 yard touchdown play, where Cooks lost Harmon in coverage.
The Pats offense still struggling to score, backup QB Luke McCown would lead the Saints up the field with a short pass to Brandon Cooks who broke for a big play and add in a PI later on, the Saints had the ball back inside the 10 yard line. McCown would throw a touchdown pass to put the Saints up 21-0 with 1:52 remaining in the first half.
In the 2 minute drill the Pats offense comes alive. Garoppolo went 5-5 for 65 yards with an amazing touchdown pass to put the Pats on the board. The Saints tried to wrap him up for a sack, but the 2nd year QB broke free and scrambled away, throwing it on the run for a touchdown to Chris Harper.
Garoppolo would continue being excellent, leading the Pats down the field in the 3rd quarter for another score. RB Dion Lewis would finish the drive off with an awesome, determined, and tough run up the middle for the score.
The next drive for the Saints, LB James Morris, whose trying and succeeding in beating out LB Jonathan Freeny for a role in the defense, would cause a fumble once the WR made the play. Safety Jordan Richards would get the recovery for New England.
To start the 4th, the Pats would be down 21-14, trying to make the comeback, being led by Garoppolo.
Garoppolo would lead the drive going 6-6 and James White would cap it off with a 4 yard touchdown run. White showed off his sweet feet on the run. The Pats would not make the 2 point try, staying down by one.
The defense settled down in the 2nd half against the Saints backup quarterbacks and in the 4th they hold again. Garoppolo, however, made his first and only mistake of the game, by throwing an interception on a bad deep pass attempt to Brandon Gibson. Pierre Warren would pick off the overthrow, and return it to the Pats redzone.
The defense held though, and after a nice Bradley Fletcher breakup, the Saints would kick the field goal, going up 24-20.
On the next drive, Garoppolo would hit tight end Jimmy Mundine, who put a sick spin move on a defender. It would lead to a 37 yard field goal and bring the Pats within one again.
The Patriots would hold on defense and get the ball back inside Saints territory thanks to a nice Chris Harper punt return. Garoppolo would hit WR Jonathan Krause for a 22 yard pickup to put the Pats in field goal range.
Stephen Gostkowski would nail a 37 yard field goal to win the game for the Patrionts, 26-24.
Dion Lewis had a great night, showing off his receiving, running, and pass protection skills. He finished the night with 5 catches for 36 yards and rushing 3 times for 12 yards and one touchdown.
James White had another solid outing, catching 1 pass for 20 yards and running the ball 9 times for 23 yards and a touchdown.
LeGarrette Blount struggled a bit in his return to action, after recovering from an injury this past week. It also didn’t help the OL didn’t do a very good job in run blocking for him.
Wide receivers Chris Harper and Brandon Gibson had a great outing. Both had a solid debut last week and did even better this week. They are making it hard for the Patriots in determining who should go and who should stay. I think it’s safe to say Josh Boyce may be done in New England.
Harper finished with 5 catches for 69 yards and 1 touchdown. Gibson caught 8 passes for 68 yards. Krause had a solid outing, catching 6 passes for 55 yards.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler had a great night, looking every bit like a number one corner should.
Logan Ryan had another forgettable night.
Bradley Fletcher had another solid outing.
Linebacker Jamie Collins had a terrible night, getting beat in coverage several times. He was the only starting linebacker out there, but yeah, not his best night.
Jabaal Sheard continues to look scary out there for the Patriots and Malcom Brown continued playing pretty good.
Not the worse night for the Pats defense, but definitely not a good night.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo looked great and was the MVP of the game if they gave such an award out for a preseason game. He finished 28-33 for 269 yards and 1 touchdown. He made decisions quicker, made better decisions, and was very accurate. Great night for the youngster.
The Saints starters had a good night, while the Pats starters had a forgettable night, yet the backups for the Patriots were on point and led a nice comeback win.
The Pats have much more to work on before the end of preseason and have nice bright spots to build on. It is preseason and experimenting and figuring out who is playing where on this team is what it’s all about.