Editor’s note: “The Aftermath” is a weekly game recap written by NEPD staff writer Jerry F.
The 2009 New England Patriots had a long off season to stew over their embarrassing 33-14 home playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens and couldn’t wait to turn the page onto a new chapter.
Tonight they showed they were on a path in the right direction with a 27-24 preseason win over the New Orleans Saints, with Coach Belichick stating, “We’ve got a long way to go. I’ve seen worse (like) Cincinnati in ‘02 or ‘01, whatever it was — ‘03. I’ve seen worse.”
The Patriots and Saints had practiced together and scrimmaged each other for 2 days leading up to their preseason game which according to Belichick produced one of the best practice sessions of his career. Tonight, however, it meant more than just scrimmage as both teams took to the field to officially kick off their 2010 campaign.
Someone must have forgot to tell Patriots second year wide receiver and former Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman that this was just a preseason game, as Edelman finished the night with 6 catches for 90 yards and a 40 yard punt return to set up a Stephen Gostowski 35yd FG.
The Patriots offense sprung into action after the Saints offense stalled. Tom Brady, after a bit of a slow start, started connecting with his targets – Brady to Moss for 7 yards was followed by another for a 23 yard pick up making the Brady-Moss combo look easy as usual. After missing almost all of last season, WR Brandon Tate also looked good hauling in a 20yd pass from Brady in the early going.
In tonight’s news that might be overblown by Patriots faithfuls, BenJarvus Green-Ellis got the start ahead of fifth year RB Laurence Maroney and ran the ball very hard carrying 11 times for 36 yards with the first Touchdown of the game to give the Patriots a 10-0 advantage. Laurence Maroney did come into the game and finished with 2 TD’s finishing with 30yds on 8 carries.
The New Orleans Saints offense that had been relatively quiet till this point, thanks to a stout defensive play by Marquis Murrell, seemed to spring to life as Drew Brees found TE Jeremy Shockey for 9 yards followed by quick short passes to get Reggie Bush in position to outrun Patriots CB Darius Butler to the pylon for a 2yd run capping an excruciating 20 play 86 yard drive.
Hats off to Saints OLB Jonathan Casillas who was disruptive all night and stood out with 10 tackles and a sack in a losing effort.
Rookie CB Devin McCourty looked good in coverage and on special teams, returning a kickoff 52 yards to start the 3rd quarter. Backup QB Brian Hoyer did okay in relief of Tom Brady finishing with 106yds on 8/13 passing. 3rd QB Zac Robinson did not fair so well, looking flustered at times and only managed to complete 3 of 8 passes for 48yds. He has the rest of the preseason to improve on his effort tonight.
The offensive and defensive lines held their own on a night where there were a lot of shuffling and adjustments being made. Dan Connoly was instrumental in pulling and neutralizing Saints LB Jonathan Vilma on the “Law Firm’s” (BJGE) 6 yard TD run.
The addition of Rookie TE’s Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski and free agent Alge Crumpler allowed the Patriots to go run heavy with 3TE sets which resulted in over 120yds rushing in total. Expected to be very involved in the passing game especially in the red zone, Hernandez finished with 3 catches for 26yds with 21 of those coming on one play.
Even though its just the first preseason game, the Patriots looked good on both sides of the ball but are still a work in progress. There are a lot of young guys that are still being integrated into the team and a lot of shuffling still on both sides of the ball and special teams as the team head to Atlanta to square off against the Falcons a week from today.
The first team offense and offense will probably get more playing time in that game as the team gears towards the season and continue to work on game plans and player evaluations.
– Jerry F.
Tags: Game Recap