FOXBORO – Everyone can go on the internet and search for the box score of the New England Patriots game on Thursday. They lost on a last-second field goal to the New York Giants.
But what are some of the things fans may have missed about the Patriots' preseason opener? Here at 'Ethan’s Extracurriculars', we provide random facts and nuanced notes from the game:
1. Thursday was the 31st all-time preseason matchup between the Patriots and Giants. With the win, New York won its 20th game in the matchup. The most recent also continued an impressive trend, becoming the 12th straight game being settled by one score or less. The last time it wasn’t? Sept. 4, 2009 when the Patriots won, 38-27.
2. Sam Roberts, the rookie defensive tackle from Northwest Missouri State, had five quarterback pressures. It would have been six if it wasn’t for a holding call negating the play. For a player labeled as a developmental prospect, the transition from camp to game has been amazing for Roberts. He is also wearing No. 96, last worn by edge rusher Tashawn Bower, who spent a couple seasons in New England (2019-2021).
3. Legendary running back James White announced his retirement prior to the game, ending his eight-year career with New England. In his final preseason game in 2018, White ran four times for 31 yards in a 37-20 drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles. In the 10 preseason games following, ‘Sweet Feet’ did not step on the field.
4. New England was held to only 52 rushing yards. In comparison, the Patriots racked up 12 penalties for a total of 89 yards. Third-year tackle Justin Herron amounted for 10 of those yards with his two false starts.
5. Cornerback Myles Bryant was the featured punt returner and had a number of positive plays. What makes his performance even more impressive is that Bryant had not returned a punt in a game since 2015, his senior year in high school. For context, teammates Devin McCourty was in his sixth season and Matthew Slater was in his eighth.
6. Usually reserved for the final week of the preseason, the Giants matchup was instead the first game of the preseason. According to Pro Football Focus, New York blitzed 21 times in the game. In the last four preseason openers, the most blitzes the Patriots had faced was nine in 2018. Rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe faced the brunt of these blitzes with 17.
7. First-round rookie Cole Strange made some history. The last four first-round picks for the Patriots (Isaiah Wynn, Sony Michel, N’Keal Harry, Mac Jones) did not start in their first preseason games. But Strange took the first snap at left guard and seemingly played well the first few drives, including a couple of big blocks in the first quarter.
8. The loudest Gillette Stadium got all night was when youth football teams faced off during halftime. After the Seekonk Jr. Warriors scored a 40-yard touchdown, the entire stadium erupted in cheers. Certainly the highlight of the night for those groups of kids and honestly, the fans in attendance.
9. Speaking of the stadium, the new renovations have made impressive progress. During the game, a video on the scoreboard highlighted the construction and the immense project taking place throughout the year. While the renovations won’t be complete until 2023, the half-finished north end zone provided an interesting backdrop for the game. It did not affect the kicking game whatsoever, as both Nick Folk and Tristan Vizcaino hit all of their kicks.
10. As per usual during home preseason games, fans began to line up along the home tunnel bleachers to catch a glimpse of their favorite players. Household names like Damien Harris and Jakobi Meyers both acknowledged the crowd and some lesser-known players even threw their gloves and towels to the fans. Even after the loss, the tradition continued for the fans who hoped to snag a piece of game-worn memorabilia.
The Patriots continue their preseason schedule with another home game against the Carolina Panthers next week, before traveling to Nevada to face off against the Las Vegas Raiders.