By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
August 24, 2002

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FOXBORO, MA -- The first offense apparently wasn't leaving the field until they got into the endzone on Friday night.

With 9:58 left in the third quarter, they finally reached it.

Quarterback Tom Brady instrumented a 6-play 65-yard drive which ended on a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Givens.  After an erratic first half where he was overthrowing receivers and also threw an interception, Brady looked like an entirely different player.  He completed passes of 36, and 28 yards to wide receiver David Patten, and after reaching the Carolina 12-yard line New England was facing another third down play after they had gone into the locker room converting only 1-fof-10 tries in the first half.

Givens ran a quick slant, and Brady fired the ball between two Carolina defenders right to him in the endzone.

Touchdown.  A word that Brady and the first offense hadn't heard in a while.

Head coach Bill Belichick may not have been satisfied, sending the offense back out on their next possession perhaps looking to see if they could do it again.  Eight plays later Brady found tight end Christian Fauria in the endzone, and the night was finally over for the first offense.

This time they left the field to cheers after being booed off the field in the first half.

At the start of the game they went 3-and-out on their opening drive, and on Carolina's first play from scrimmage gave up a 50-yard gain on a reverse to wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad which helped set up a 41-yard field goal by Jaret Holmes to give the Panthers an early 3-0 lead with 12:11 remaining in the first quarter.

New England went 3-and-out again on their next possession, but they caught a break when the punt touched a Carolina player and Ryan Phillips recovered, giving the Patriots the ball back at the Panthers 47-yard line.  But the offense couldn't sustain the drive and they would have to settle on a 45-yard field goal by the ever-busy Adam Vinatieri, tying the score 3-3.

Facing a third down play on their next possession, Brady rolled out to the right and with a defender about to level him threw the ball down the field to a double covered Troy Brown.  The Panthers picked off the pass, and a frustrated Brady left the field.

The Patriots would later add a field goal with 11:34 left in the half, but when their final drive before the half failed, the fans who filled the brand new 68,000 seat Gillette Stadium unleashed their displeasure with a sea of boos.

Brady went into the locker room having completed 9-of-17 passing for 52-yards and an interception.  He had been knocked down repeatedly by Carolina's defense and was also sacked three times in the first half.

The running game had also been ineffective, with Antowain Smith carrying 11-times for just 18-yards.

Up to that point it had been another dismal showing, but a new team came out in the second half.  They marched down the field twice, scoring two straight touchdowns which put them up 23-3, but most importantly finally gave them some momentum heading into their final preseason game.

Wide receiver David Patten made a 53-yard reception on their second possession of the second half which helped set up the second touchdown, and he finished the night with 4-catches for 124-yards.  Brady had left the field in the first half with a quarterback rating of 34.4, but following his second half performance he finished the night 16-of-25 for 203-yards with 2-touchdowns and a rating of 99.2.

The third preseason game is said to be the team's "dress rehearsal" heading into the regular season.  If that's the case fans may be feeling a bit better after Friday's game.

BRUSCHI INJURED

Tedy Bruschi left the field in the first half with a knee injury after colliding with teammate Tebucky Jones on a tackle.  Bruschi left the field under his own power and reportedly only suffered a bruised knee, but is expected to undergo further tests....Maugaula Tuitele filled in for Bruschi for the rest of the night and played well in his absence....After catching the team's first touchdown David Givens appears to have the inside track to make the team's final receiver spot.......Joe Andruzzi started the game at right guard for the injured Damien Woody, but was later replaced by Steven Neal.


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