|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
In two years, a game around this time of year will actually mean something, as it’ll probably be Week 2 under the proposed 18-game schedule. But, we’re still in the 16-game format in 2010, which means Thursday’s Week 4 match represented the most meaningless on the schedule. Whether or not that it counted, the Patriots took the field Thursday night against the New York Giants, and got their first look at the new Meadowlands. The stadium, as with most new sports arenas, seemed pretty impeccable with all the amenities imaginable (well, maybe not the 75-yard-long big screen like at Cowboys Stadium). The Pats will be back again later this season to take on the Jets.
Anyway, on to the game at hand. For those of you looking for a bounce-back game from the Patriots after their embarrassing 36-35 loss in Week 3 against the Rams last week, you were probably disappointed. The starters for both sides barely played, which is common in the final preseason contest. Regardless, Tom Brady completed 4 of 8 passes for 51 yards, a touchdown, and an interception (he under-threw Randy Moss by 10 yards).
Meanwhile, Laurence Maroney finally saw significant preseason action, carrying the rock nine times for 32 yards in an underwhelming effort. Maroney should be able to survive the cut, and will need to put forth a good season since he’s in the last year of his rookie contract. Everyone wants to get paid, right?In relief of Brady was Brian Hoyer, who looked impressive again and should prove to be a capable backup quarterback in the pros. Hopefully, for Brady’s sake, this is the last time we see Hoyer for any extended time this season. He finished with 15 for 26 for 266 yards with one touchdown and one pick, and had two long pass plays: a 66-yard touchdown to Darnell Jackson with five minutes to go, and a 67-yard catch and run by Rod Owens.
Rookie Zac Robinson got his chance late in the game to run a two-minute drill with the Patriots down by 3, but he finished 1 for 5 for six yards and could not move the ball, and the Patriots lost 20-17.
Fellow-rookie Taylor Price had near-incredible catches on the sidelines on passes from Hoyer and Robinson, but he could not get both feet down either time. I’d imagine Bill Belichick and other offensive coaches will work with Price to get him some more catching drills on the sidelines.
On the defensive side, the first-teamers allowed a touchdown from Eli Manning to Kevin Boss, but played decently well as a unit, which is more than we can say after last week’s effort against the Rams. In all, 20 points allowed by your first, second, and third-teamers is pretty impressive, and the Patriots should hold their heads a little higher heading into the season.
Speaking of which, Week 1 of the regular season is suddenly just a week from Thursday, with the Patriots hosting the Bengals a week from Sunday.