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The Patriots beat the Giants in the fourth meaningless game of the pre-season last night at Gillette, overcoming an early 21-0 deficit. Here’s three things we learned from the game:
Spare me the addage that his performance (29 carries, 125 yards, 3 TDs) was against third and fourth stringers. Late in the fourth quarter BJGE (my name for him) burst through the line and scored a 32 yard touchdown – his third of the game. He runs hard, hits the hole and isn’t afraid to make contact, much unlike a certain former first round pick, who didn’t play Thursday. There is no doubt BJGE has a spot on an NFL roster and here’s to hoping it’s on the Patriots roster.
With most of Patriots nation still scratching their heads after the dismissal of backup QB Kevin O’Connell, rookie Brian Hoyer has emerged as the likeliest candidate to take the the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Not only were his numbers decent – 18/25, 242 yards, 1 TD 0 INT – but he routinely made the right decision in the pocket and showed some mobility late in the fourth. He was also the only QB to see time and led his team – albeit a backup squad – back from a three touchdown deficit to win the game. The rookie from Michigan State has certainly vaulted over veteran Andrew Walter in the line of QBs. Let’s just hope we never have to see him in a real game.
Despite the victory there are plenty of things Bill Belichick and his staff will have to work on this week in practice. Eli Manning made a strong cameo, going 3-3 with 76 yards and a TD. The Patriots gave up three passing touchdowns in the first quarter alone and though it was mostly with young players, they are the same young players we’ll be seeing in nickel and dime packages in the regular season. I think most Patriot fans are comfortable that the team is getting younger in the secondary but there will certainly be growing pains along the way.
All in all it has to be looked at as a successful pre-season for the Patriots. No significant injuries popped up and Tom Brady looked pretty steady in his return. The team did lose two surprising names – O’Connell and Tedy Bruschi – but overall looks like the team we expected. It’s just about time for the real games to start as the Pats host the Bills on Monday night, September 14. We’ll see you there!