By: Ian Logue/
August 26, 2005

Patriots practice report: Brian Hoyer struggles during OTA session
Patriots safety Duron Harmon says he's learned from Costa Rica incident
Patriots defensive end Derek Rivers happy to be healthy
Belichick mum on Brady and Gronk OTA absences
No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs

GREEN BAY, WI -- The third preseason game is generally known as the "dress rehearsal” for the regular season, and if that's the case the Patriots appear ready to take on another starring role in the NFL.

It was the Patriots defense that took the lead role on Friday night, forcing four Green Bay Packers turnovers, including two by quarterback Brett Favre en-route to a 27-3 victory at Lambeau field. Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, and James Sanders each had interceptions in Friday night's game, while Willie McGinest recovered a fumble.

The offense shined as well, with running back Corey Dillon finishing the night gaining 70 yards on 14 carries (5.0 avg) and two touchdowns, while Tom Brady completed 12-of-21 passing for 127 yards and a touchdown pass.

All in all it was a great night, with head coach Bill Belichick telling the media after the game that it was definitely a "more competitive effort” that how they played last week against New Orleans.

The game started out with a bang for New England, with rookie Ellis Hobbs returning the opening kickoff 43 yards to help set up a 12-yard touchdown run by Dillon to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead just two minutes into the game.

Favre was then intercepted on the Packers next possession by Samuel, giving the Patriots 1st-and-10 at the Green Bay 32-yard line. But after converting the first down, the drive stalled and New England would be forced to settle for a 44-yard field goal, increasing their lead to 10-0 with 4:53 left in the first quarter.

The Packers later caught a break in the second quarter after the Patriots' defense forced the Packers to punt from the New England 45-yard line. Tyrone Poole lost sight of the ball in punt coverage, and it bounced off his back. Green Bay then recovered the live ball, setting up 1st-and-goal at the Patriots 8. Fortunately New England's defense held and the Packers would manage just a 26-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell for their only points of the night.

Meanwhile the Patriots weren't done. They put together a 12-play 77-yard drive which ended in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brady to wide receiver David Givens, giving New England a 17-3 lead. On the play Givens appeared to injure himself, but Belichick would later say after the game that he simply "fell on the ball”.

With 3:49 left in the half, the Packers had a chance to cut into the lead, but Randall Gay picked off Favre and gave the Patriots one final possession before the half. Brady came back out onto the field with 1:21 left and did what he usually does, he marched his team down the field and set up a 38-yard field goal for Adam Vinatieri to give them a 20-3 lead heading into the locker room.

Things didn't get any better for the Packers to open the second half. On their first play from scrimmage running back Ahman Green fumbled the ball and New England recovered at the Packers 27-yard line. A 20-yard completion to P.K. Sam, who practiced for the first time this week and was playing in his first preseason game, helped set up 1st-and-goal from Green Bay's 3-yard line. Dillon would take it in for the Patriots final points of the game, giving New England a 27-3 lead that they would never relinquish.

The Patriots will now return home to prepare to take on the New York Giants next Thursday night in Foxboro.

GAME NOTES: All four quarterbacks played Friday night. Doug Flutie finished 4-of-7 for 23-yards, while Rohan Davey was a mere 1-of-3, and Matt Cassel was 1-of-1 for 7-yards……Ben Watson had a breakout game, catching 6 passes for 49-yards…..Ellis Hobbs returned two kickoffs for 59 yards with his opening kickoff of 43 yards likely opening some eyes in the coaching staff. He also made a huge hit on Packers third string quarterback Aaron Rodgers…..Quarterback Doug Flutie came in for a brief period during the Patriots second touchdown drive....It appears the Patriots are headed back to Foxboro without anyone else sidelined. Belichick told reporters after the game he didn't think his team had any serious injuries.