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Patriots-Panthers Analysis

Maroney saw his first game action Friday night. (Courtesy of Getty Images)
Maroney saw his first game action Friday night. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots gave us all a look Friday night on what could be this season. After two pre-season games left much of New England football lovers wanting more, the Pats starters turned in a terrific effort Friday night in a 24-7 win against the Carolina Panthers.

The third game of the pre-season is usually given the most weight (just ask Dennis Green), in which case Patriots fans must be smiling this afternoon after Friday night’s performance.

Here are some quick points about Friday’s win:

  1. Brady – who played for five series’ – showed no ill effects from missing practice to witness the birth of his son John, as he was the epitome of efficient, completing 17 of 22 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions (128.4 QB rating). It was a vintage Brady performance, making the throws that needed to be made and taking care of the football. He used the entire field and squeezed a touchdown pass in to Heath Evans which put an exclamation point on his outing.
  2. Speaking of Evans, what a game for the fullback. Two catches for 19 yards and a touchdown to go with seven carries for 58 yards and a TD. His most impressive run was late in the third when Evans took the hand off, reversed fields and bowled over multiple Panther defenders on a sparkling 43 yard run. The running game as a whole was impressive as Belichick ran the ball on the first nine plays from scrimmage. In his first game action, Laurence Maroney looked pretty good, rushing for 58 yards on 15 carries.
  3. The offensive line was the key to the offense’s production. Unlike the previous games this August, the line held firm, allowing the running game to get back on track and Brady to have time to make spot throws.
  4. The defense continued to show it’s strength, allowing only 57 yards of rushing in the entire game. Aside from Jake Delhomme’s 48 yard touchdown pass right near the end of the first half, the secondary didn’t let Steve Smith (two catches, 20 yards) run amok.
  5. The only true cause for concern right now is kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Though his two misses from 53 and 46 yards are not gimmies, the second year man out of Kansas State missed both wide left, the same problem he had last week against the Titans. Gostkowski is just 3 for 6 in the pre-season kicking field goals.

There’s still plenty for Bill Belichick to work on this week in practice. We won’t see many starters in Thursday’s final exhibition game against the Giants but with the roster whittling down to 53 after the game there will be much competition in Foxborough this week.

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