FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots finally beat the New York Giants in a football game, winning 28-20 on Thursday night in the preseason finale.
It was the final opportunity for many players on the bubble to make their case for a roster spot, and others to show why they deserve (or don't deserve) a bigger role on the team in 2013.
Here are some players who helped their case, and a few others who hurt their chances of making an impact for the Patriots this season.
Marquice Cole/Logan Ryan: The battle for the fourth and fifth roster spots at cornerback stayed red hot despite the departure of Ras-I Dowling. Both Cole and Ryan made fantastic plays on the ball. Each logged two pass defenses, and each broke up a deep pass. Cole, in particular, did something which New England defensive backs have not been known for as of late when he turned his head to swat down a long pass in his direction. Each gave up a key play — Cole a 37-yard reception to Louis Murphy, Ryan a touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks — but each had more good plays than bad.
Marcus Cannon: Lined up all over the offensive line for the Patriots, including at both tackle spots and at right guard. He had a nice lead block on a solid 14-yard run by running back George Winn, and showed some savvy to jump when a defender jumped offsides, forcing a penalty. Given his health, presumed after carrying a big load for the Patriots tonight, he should be the starting right guard for Week 1.
Michael Buchanan: Perhaps the strongest defensive showing of the night came from Buchanan, who had 2.5 sacks, one of which was a sack-fumble which was recovered by linebacker Steve Beauharnais. Buchanan may have played his way into a roster spot on Friday night — it appears unlikely the Patriots will be able to sneak him on the practice squad after such a performance.
Aaron Dobson: The Patriots rookie receiver continued his streak of up-and-down performances throughout the preseason, but tonight's performance was more down than up. He was flagged for offensive pass interference in the second quarter, negating an 18-yard reception. He was responsible for Ryan Mallett's interception, when a pass hit him in the chest, bounced off his hands and into the arms of linebacker Mark Herzlich. He might have been responsible for a second interception had it not been overturned, but he could have fought harder for an underthrown fade by Mallett in the back corner of the end zone.
Josh Kline: Was beat on consecutive snaps for two sacks of Tim Tebow, and again later in the third quarter allowing pressure on Tebow that forced the quarterback out of the pocket. The Patriots aren't particularly deep on the interior of the offensive line, and might have liked someone to emerge as a strong practice squad candidate. No such luck tonight.
Tavon Wilson: The second-year safety was spotted subbing in for safety Adrian Wilson in the third and fourth quarter. Playing time in the final preseason game can be misleading, but it's a far fall from his lofty status as a second-round pick in the 2012 draft.
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