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Preseason games are more than just the final score. For most fans and media members, the preseason is a way to gain intel about teams and players before the start of the regular season. Fans of both the Giants and Patriots learned things about their teams on Thursday night, aside from the Giants’ 23-21 victory.
The Giants dominated the first half as far as statistics are concerned. New York gained over three times as many yards while taking a 10-7 lead into intermission. The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter before New York stretched its lead 20-14 less than five minutes into the fourth quarter. New England rallied to take the lead on rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey with 4:51 left. The Giants mounted a late-game drive, however, and won the game on Graham Gano’s 24-yard field goal as time expired.
Here are the main takeaways from Thursday night’s game.
With Mac Jones sidelined, the Patriots’ fourth-round pick received a heavy workload on Thursday night. The former Western Kentucky quarterback went 19 of 32 for 205 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The highlight was his scoring pass to Humphrey, who led New England with 62 yards on six receptions.
.@Patriots take the lead with 4:51 to go! @MacJones_10 is loving it.@baileyzappe04 | @LJ_Humphrey23
📺: #NYGvsNE on @NFLNetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/E0QNI4OSYN pic.twitter.com/FWog9Oyt8g
While they allowed a few shots on Daniel Jones (more on that later), the Giants’ offensive line was exceptional in run blocking. The Giants rumbled for 177 yards on 33 carries, compared to the Patriots’ 52 yards on 18 carries. New York was led on the ground by Antonio Williams, who ran for 61 yards and a score on nine carries.
Tyquan Thornton’s first NFL reception resulted in a touchdown, as New England’s second-round pick was able to break free in the back of the end zone before pulling down Brian Hoyer’s pass. Expected to bring an element of speed to the Patriots’ receiving corps, Thornton caught 10 touchdown passes during his final season at Baylor. He averaged 15.7 yards per catch throughout his time with the Bears.
Touchdown, Tyquan Thornton! The rookie WR from Baylor gets the @Patriots on the board.@Humble_Ty19 | #ForeverNE
📺: #NYGvsNE on @NFLNetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/E0QNI4OSYN pic.twitter.com/UaiM7qQcxE
Malcolm Butler became a household name following his game-winning pick in Super Bowl XLIX. Butler’s penchant for making big plans rang true again on Thursday night. The Patriots’ new No. 4 (Butler switched from his old No. 21) scooped up Terrance Mitchell’s forced fumble of Giants wideout Collin Johnson on New York’s third possession. Butler played in his first game in nearly two years after he retired before the start of the 2021 season.
Welcome back to New England, Malcolm Butler. pic.twitter.com/kPivqqNUzM
Giants running back Saquon Barkley looked good in his one possession. He had four carries for 13 yards and also caught an 8-yard pass on third down to help the Giants move the chains. Barkley is hoping to return to form this season after injuries plagued him the previous two seasons.
Saquon Barkley?! Receiving?!
Man, it’s been awhile. Nice route and easy 1st down 👍 pic.twitter.com/gkz8B5xZS8
Jones was solid in his two series under center. The Giants quarterback went 6 of 10 for 69 yards while leading New York to a field goal on the game’s opening drive. His favorite target was Johnson, who caught both of his targets from Jones for 30 yards. Johnson finished the game with seven catches for 82 yards.
Jones did not leave the game unscathed, however. On his final drive, he took a sack by Josh Uche before getting hit on his final pass attempt. The former first-round pick was sacked 105 times during his first three seasons but just 22 times in 11 games in 2021.
Former NW Missouri State DL Sam Roberts (96) with the pressure on Daniel Jones. Was a sidestep away from a sack. The 200th overall pick is showing out early in his NFL debut.pic.twitter.com/CPdb7UpaiC
A looming question has been who will call the plays in New England now that Josh McDaniels is in Las Vegas. It appears that the Patriots don’t know that answer, either, as Matt Patricia and Joe Judge took turns calling plays on Thursday night. Patricia appeared to be calling plays during Hoyer’s first-half possessions, while Judge called plays for Zappe.
New England’s young receiver caught 36- and 32-yard passes on the Patriots’ go-ahead drive to start the second half. A seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Nixon caught 11 touchdowns and averaged 15.6 yards per catch during his two active seasons at UCF.
Bailey Zappe connects with Tre Nixon for a gain of 36 yards!@baileyzappe04 | @tre_nixon1
📺: #NYGvsNE on @NFLNetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/E0QNI4OSYN pic.twitter.com/81r7zB9QO0
New England suffers several O-line injuries
The injury bug hit the Patriots’ offensive line on Thursday night. Justin Herron, Yodny Cajuste and Bill Murray each left the game with injuries. Despite those injuries, the Patriots’ patchwork offensive line did well enough to help New England take a 21-20 lead late in the game.
Tyrod Taylor looked sharp in his first preseason game with the Giants. The 12-year veteran and former Pro Bowler started the game 12 of 14 for 118 yards and a touchdown to Richie James that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead late in the first half. The 33-year-old appears to be more than capable of leading the Giants’ offense if called upon to do so.
Tyrod Taylor hits Richie James to give the @Giants the lead! #TogetherBlue
📺: #NYGvsNE on @NFLNetwork
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/E0QNI4OSYN pic.twitter.com/66issPsPbv
Taunting (aka unsportsmanlike) penalties have been a hot-button issue over the past few weeks, as the NFL has been cracking down on taunting. A head-scratching taunting penalty was assessed to Giants cornerback Aaron Robinson at the end of the first quarter. The penalty helped set up the Patriots’ first touchdown.
Giants CB Aaron Robinson (in coverage) was called for taunting on this play. pic.twitter.com/o31hoMGzqI
The Giants play host to the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals on Aug. 20 while the Patriots take on Baker Mayfield and the Panthers on Aug. 19.
Coming home with the dub 😎
Kayvon on first game: “It was great. It was exciting out there. … This is a good start.”
Daboll thought OC Mike Kafka did well communicating throughout the game. “It’s our first step.” Daboll admitted it felt strange not calling the plays, especially the night before when preparing. “Mike’s done a good job with it.”
Daboll: “The guys played competitive.” He liked the organization on the sideline with substitutions.
Coach Daboll’s postgame speech 🗣 pic.twitter.com/x11HwwikhO
Matthew Slater Live Postgame Press Conference: https://t.co/sUf9uilfYk
Tyquan Thornton Live Postgame Press Conference: https://t.co/dB2hsF0pHr
Bailey Zappe Live Postgame Press Conference: https://t.co/VV5DBrbBzz
NFL DEBUT 🥳@ENeal73 pic.twitter.com/pw752KPsas
Devin McCourty Live Postgame Press Conference: https://t.co/CHnsidLwBV
Brian Hoyer Live Postgame Press Conference: https://t.co/5CsU22WlK9
First NFL game ✔️🤩@kayvont pic.twitter.com/AmzE4fjeiJ
Bill Belichick Live Postgame Press Conference: https://t.co/B9MlgQcpuw
Young talent moved the chains for the Patriots in the first preseason game of the year.@MikeDussault19‘s five keys from #NYGvsNE: https://t.co/TxH7DL1lXJ
We missed football season 😍
Patriots Postgame Show #NYGvsNE
Catch the Patriots Postgame Show as they break down tonight’s game. https://t.co/5qYFMGzoJy
Plenty to build on. pic.twitter.com/rVMvpa7TIT
(read in Boston accent)
It’s ahhhlways good when we get the W pic.twitter.com/4LD0QPVrtc
A @LJ_Humphrey23 TD to take lead. pic.twitter.com/SMVCnlCpCy
“Caught by the backpedaling Humphrey!”@LJ_Humphrey23 | #NYGvsNE
📺: @wbzsports pic.twitter.com/OPkHzwRFAt
First score in a Patriots uniform!@LJ_Humphrey23 | #NYGvsNE pic.twitter.com/Qt2DlvOHCU
Patriots fans have to be more encouraged with what they’ve seen from the offense this half. They’ve gained nearly 200 yards this half after failing to net 70 total yards in the first half.
A special HBD from the HC!@STEVEBURTONWBZ | @wbzsports pic.twitter.com/ogsef38WrI
📺: @NBCNewYork/@NFLNetwork pic.twitter.com/YayfD6Riky
INJURY UPDATE: CB Cor’Dale Flott (groin) has been ruled out.
1 more to go pic.twitter.com/44zrTBmLdO
Giants lead 17-14 entering the fourth quarter, which was also the final score of their historic upset win over New England in SB XLII.
Huskies in the 🏠@UConnFootball | #ForeverNE https://t.co/pCwS8idEsZ
Post TD mood 💯 pic.twitter.com/g8Wwu4e8me
Into the end zone.@kevoharris1 | #NYGvsNE pic.twitter.com/e9hPmTWy3G
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