The Patriots and Giants played their starters, on each side of the ball, for two series apiece, which is a bit of a break from New England’s past practices in the preseason finale. So what can we take from those 28 plays? Here’s what …
1) The Patriots offense, over the course of four preseason games, has looked different stylistically, but the results are the same — Plenty good enough. Outside of a 10-play drive in the hurry-up offense against St. Louis, Tom Brady was under center for 54 of his 77 preseason snaps and the team was far more balanced from a run-pass standpoint.
2) Perhaps the most encouraging sign of this preseason has been the team’s red-zone production — an area of weakness in 2009. Rob Gronkowski (4 touchdowns in preseason), in particular, has looked like a real weapon down low. He scored again tonight, going up to get six on a third-and-goal from the 5.
3) The defense’s performance was … less encouraging. The Giants surgically picked the Patriots apart on their first possession, going 86 yards in 9 plays, running and throwing on the defense all the same, and needing to convert just one third down to punch it in. New York’s failure on the next drive was more attributable to a
bad snap botched flea-flicker on a first-and-10 from the Patriot 46 than anything else. The Giants were moving the ball on that one too.
4) Sergio Brown seems to be in the process of winning a job. He continues to work with the first special-teams groups, and shows up in covering kicks and punts. Brown stymied Giants return man Tim Brown (not that one) on the opening kickoff to pin New York inside the 20, and was the first one down the field to cover a Zoltan Mesko punt that landed inside the 10.
5) Brian Hoyer continues to look awfully competent. He wasn’t off-the-charts tonight, but he made some throws into tight spots that made you look again. The Patriots are just fine with him as the primary backup to Tom Brady.