FOXBORO - The New England Patriots might have lost in the waning seconds to the visiting New York Giants, but a strong first quarter is something fans should be excited about. Their lockdown defense against the Giants’ starting offense was something to smile about during Thursday’s preseason opener.
Defensively, the Patriots rolled out a few starting-caliber players, including Malcolm Butler, Mack Wilson and Terrence Mitchell. The first drive that was a perfect bend-but-don’t-break stand. Other than a few long passing plays from quarterback Daniel Jones, the defense was able to stifle the offensive starters.
The Giants’ first drive stalled at the Patriots’ 7-yard line, which ended in a Graham Gano field goal. The first few plays were highlighted by linebackers Josh Uche and Mack Wilson, who both showed great speed off the edge and in the middle of the field.
Defensive tackle Carl Davis had a superb first drive with three tackles. Davis signed a one-year extension this past offseason and should factor into the team’s run defense.
After the first Patriots offensive series ended in a punt, Jones, running back Saquon Barkley and the Giants took the field against the same defensive unit, with a few minor substitutions. An 8-yard sack by Uche was able to push New York deep into their territory and coverage by Raekwon McMillan on a deep sideline pass forced the Giants to punt for the first time.
“Tonight we got a lot of good work in all three phases of the game,” head coach Bill Belichick said. “A lot we can learn from.”
With a lot of the players on the roster bubble getting some chances to shine early against NFL-caliber starters is a step in the right direction for this team, regardless of the final score.