If you were looking for pretty football, you were probably disappointed. Of course, that just isn't the case -- ever -- in preseason football, but there was some good with the bad in the New England Patriots' 7-6 win over the New Orleans Saints in their preseason opener.
READ MORE: Brian Hoyer, Shane Vereen Lead New England Past New Orleans
Neither star quarterback -- Tom Brady or Drew Brees -- played particularly well, combining for 34 passing yards and zero scores (and Brady had 30 of the 34 yards). Both did not complete their first two passes, although Brady was on target with both. Brady's first attempt was a rocket right up the middle to a falling Rob Gronkowski and his second was to new receiving toy Brandon Lloyd, who couldn't get his hands up in time for the catch. Brady finally connected with Aaron Hernandez on third down on the Pats' opening drive, but he couldn't convert. Brady's quarterback rating was 67.6 and he averaged 4.3 yards per throw.
The offense clearly wasn't there for New England, as head coach Bill Belichick summed up in the postgame press conference, but there were some bright spots. Certainly not in the passing game, though. Three Pats' quarterbacks -- Brady, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett -- combined for just 153 yards through the air, one score, an interception and a fumble.
As for the Pats' ground game, it racked up 126 yards, with second-year backs Shane Vereen (11 carries, 64 yards) and Stevan Ridley (40 yards, eight carries) carrying the load. Vereen had some solid rushes during the Patriots' 97-yard scoring drive early in the third quarter, which would prove to be the game-changing drive. Defensively, the Pats had their moments. New England amassed 64 tackles (32 solo) and five stops for a loss, as well as two sacks, six pass deflections and five quarterback hits. Jeff Tarpinian had seven stops to lead the team, and both Steve Gregory and Pat Chung came away with interceptions.
Then, there's the bad. New England's offensive line struggled. The Pats were also whistled for five penalties accounting for 81 yards, including a 46-yard pass interference penalty.
Still, all things considered, it could have been worse. New England did lose linebacker Dane Fletcher to a reported ACL tear, probably ending his season, but was otherwise healthy. With three more preseason games ahead of them, and more time on the practice field, the Patriots have plenty of time to right the wrongs as they prepare for the regular season.
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