New York Giants 31 – New England Patriots 29
Preseason game number 4. The point where coaches have made most of their roster decisions and are now hoping for no serious injuries to their backups and rotational players. The Giants headed to New England to face off against the Patriots, as per usual, in the final game prior to the regular season. The Giants kept their starters on the bench for this one, giving roster hopefuls a shot at showing what they can do with an extended amount of snaps.
The Patriots, led by rookie Jarrett Stidham, marched down the field and put NE up 3-0 after the first drive. He had Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Demaryius Thomas running routes and catching balls for him. If this were 2013, that could have passed for the best WR trio in the NFL. It was a good, true test for the youthful NYG defensive backs to be up against such established pass catchers even though they are past their primes.
Daniel Jones started for NYG, pulling an Eli Manning and staying out there for just one series. He remained near-perfect on the preseason, going 4/4 and 47 yards. The fact that Shurmur pulled him after one series has to tell you something.
The Giants forced a turnover via pressure from Jake Ceresna, which caused an errant pass by Stidham, landing in the arms of safety Sean Chandler. With Alex Tanney at the helm on ensuing drive, it took just two plays for NYG to reach the end zone. A perfectly thrown ball to Alonzo Russell gave them the 35-yard score, putting Big Blue up 7-3. It didn’t take long for the Giants to get the ball back, one play actually. A poor exchange on an attempted reverse resulted in the ball being put on the ground, which was recovered by Keion Adams. The Giants turned that turnover in 3 points, giving them a 10-3 lead as the first quarter came to an end.
With the all-2013 wide receiver group still in, Stidham was able to get the NE offense back on track, hitting Thomas for a 35-yard score. After a NYG three-and-out, Stidham again hit Thomas, this time for a 3-yard score and all of the sudden NE was up 16-10. Things were getting ugly for the NYG offense via penalties and eventually an interception by Tanney. It was the first of two INTs by Tanney on the night.
The Patriots offense took over the rest of the first half and entered halftime with a commanding 29-10 lead. The Giants offense couldn’t convert on 3rd down and the Pats offense was continuing to play their simple but efficient style of football.
Kyle Lauletta came out under center to start off the second half and led a nice resurgence. He was on the money for the rest of the night and led this team to within striking distance. Despite several dropped balls and some of his targets going down with lower body injuries, he looked very smooth and efficient. He threw a perfect deep pass to Scott Simonson for his first of two touchdowns. Wayne Gallman, who saw the most preseason action of the year, scored a physical 6-yard touchdown and Aldrick Rosas hit a 27-yard field goal.
The Giants defense came up with several key stops and applied a lot of pressure from the middle of the line. John Jenkins and Ceresna were standouts.
The dramatic finish had NYG facing a 29-25 deficit with 4 seconds remaining. Lauletta, who was dominant on 3rd down all night, was in his highest-pressure situation of the night, one play left from the NE 14-yard line. He hit Russell for the touchdown as time expired to complete the 19-point comeback and 21 unanswered points.
Giants win 31-29 and end the preseason a perfect 4-0.
-Starter Eli Manning didn’t play in this one, giving Jones his first unofficial start of his career. He was able prepare for the game as the number one guy on the depth chart all week, another check mark on the QB progression list. Jones had a quick night, just one series, and completed all 4 of his attempts. Two of those completions were to Golden Tate, a combo we are sure to see later in the year. Jones has a superb preseason and instilled as much confidence as one can during preseason action.
-Alex Tanney had a night to forget while Kyle Lauletta had arguably his best half as a Giant. The former went 4/12 – 1 TD – 2 INT, while the latter went led a 19-point comeback, going 22/40 – 247 yards – 2 TD. He was also the victim of multiple drops and could have easily wound up over 300 yards, in just one half. Perhaps the most impressive part of his game was the performance on 3rd and 4th down. He went 12/15-166 yards-2 TD. It was truly dominant.
-Paul Perkins ended the preseason strong with two straight strong weeks. He rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries, displaying outstanding ability in space to miss tacklers and gain yards after contact. Still not a good between the tackles runner who can push piles, though.
-Wayne Gallman added 29 yards on 7 carries to go along with 3 receptions for 24 yards. His 6-yard touchdown run caught me by surprise with how physically he finished it off and pushed multiple defenders into the end zone. I was surprised to see him get so much action late in the game, but I’m glad he did. It is important for running backs to knock heads a few times in live action before the season starts.
-Long-winded night for the likes of Alonzo Russell, Reggie White Jr., and T.J. Jones. It was the most they all played during preseason and you could tell it impacted their performance late in the game. Russell was the star of the group, going 5-92-2 on an amazing 15 targets. Some analysts who are overly-obsessive about numbers will tell you that was an inefficient game, but Russell all but stamped his name onto the roster. He ran good routes, he tracked the ball well, and made physical catches. With the uncertainty at WR early in the year, he will get his shot. He did, however, drop a pass and another one on a 2-point conversion.
-T.J. Jones hobbled off the field a couple times, the second appearing more serious. He has had a few issues staying healthy and even though I think his versatility can land him a roster spot, I’m not sold he has a spot locked in.
-Scott Simonson, whom has had a problem with drops this preseason, made arguably the best catch of his Giants career on a 27-yard touchdown. He got downfield in a hurry and made a diving grab. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle on the play and had to be carted off. As of typing the review, no final result has been publicized but it didn’t look good.
-C.J. Conrad stepped up and had a nice game in the trenches. Very stifling blocker who rarely gets beat. He has been a consistent player all preseason and continued to show he can catch the ball when it is thrown his way as well. Jake Powell got some extra action after the injury, catching three passes and dropping another.
-As I have been saying all preseason, the NYG second-string offensive line is the best it has been in quite some time, most notably on the right side. Chad Slade and Nick Gates are playing powerfully and balanced. Their footwork has been on point and both play a violent game with their hands.
-Really rough game for left tackle Brian Mihalik. He was flagged 3 times, gave up 2 pressures and allowed 1 TFL. He may win the backup left tackle job by default unless this team thinks Gate or Slade can handle it, which I would prefer.
-Evan Brown and James O’Hagan both struggled to contain the NE interior defenders. They got minimal push, if anything. There appeared to be some miscommunication on blitzes as well.
-Really active game from R.J. McIntosh and that is a word that keeps coming up every time I watch him. He gets off the ball fast and there is plenty of quick-twitch reaction and movement to his game.
-One of my NYG favorites of the preseason has been Jake Ceresna. I first noticed him in practice and then he popped up a few times in the games. He saved his best effort for last, as he finished with 2 TFL, 1 sack, and 2 pressures. This kid still has some developing to do, but the second-year undrafted free agent has done everything a back end roster player can do to make a spot for himself on the practice squad.
-John Jenkins had 2 tackles and a sack. He has really improved his quickness and game speed since coming into the league from Georgia back in 2013. The former 3rd round pick makes me feel good about the depth on the interior of this defensive line.
-B.J. Goodson is proving he belongs on this team and can make an impact when called upon. I won’t bang the table for him to start (yet) because he isn’t the ideal schematic fit, but this guy needs to make the team. He is a tackling machine and plays with a lot of speed. He finished with a team high 6 tackles in addition to a sack. He also showed some solid downfield coverage on two occasions.
-There may be a quiet roster battle going on between Josiah Tauaefa and Nate Stupar. The latter is a leader on special teams but the former has been making plays when he gets on the field. Really fast reaction and sure tackling in addition to fitting the scheme well. Interested to see what happens there.
-Avery Moss is likely to get another shot here in 2019, but I think Jake Carlock has earned the right to take his roster spot. He had a sack taken away by a defensive hold and we have already noted the energy he brings to the table every play. Moss just doesn’t seem to have it.
–Terrell Sinkfield got beat up by the savvy veteran Demaryius Thomas. He continues to show a lack of ability to track and locate the ball. He has an impressive physical package but the skill set is inconsistent. Henre’ Toliver got some good experience in as well against the rusty but still effective Josh Gordon. His results were a bit more mixed, as he did flash here and there.
-Ronald Zamort had arguably his best performance of the preseason as he makes a push for a roster spot or a practice squad allocation. He broke up 2 passes early on.
-Sean Chandler intercepted a pass and broke up 2 others. He is the one guy who I think this coaching staff really likes, as he can play multiple roles back there and has a knack for the ball.
-Solid game for Julian Love, who I loved coming out of Notre Dame but even I am surprised by how quickly he seems to have taken in both S and CB roles. Smart player who showed a physical side in this one. His future can be wherever this team needs him most, a really valuable asset.
-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 32 and 27). Perfect on the preseason.
-P Riley Dixon and P Johnny Townsend continued to split duties with the latter outperforming the former yet again.
-QB Kyle Lauletta, WR Alonzo Russell, LB B.J. Goodson
-OT Brian Mihalik, CB Terrell Sinkfield, QB Alex Tanney
3 CLOSING THOUGHTS
-Now comes the most active day of the personnel/team building year. At the time this is posted, several cuts may already have been made. Before you get surprised by anything both with the NYG and around the league, just consider there is a lot of information we don’t have access to when it comes to the “why”? Money, undisclosed injuries, schematic needs…etc.
-If there is one guy I really want NYG to keep around, it is B.J. Goodson. If he an stay healthy and readily available, I think he can be a difference maker in the middle especially with what they have up front along the defensive line. He has holes in coverage, but I think he has shown improvement there and the attitude he brings as a run defender elevates the physicality of this defense.
-When it comes to my outlook of the 2019 season, I have to say I have leaned more towards being optimistic. Much more so than last year, anyway. There is something to this team and the way they come together. Nobody is walking around like they are bigger than everyone else. The team is relatively healthy. The trenches are strong. There are legitimate concerns at a few spots, namely the pass rush, but I think this team will be in the wild card hunt for most, if not all of the season.