The Patriots finished up the exhibition season last night at 2-2 after last night’s 20-17 loss to the New York Giants, but unlike last week there were far more good things to talk about when this one was over.  Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty really stepped up and played well last night after the loss of starter Leigh Bodden this week, and had some good moments during the game.

Head coach Bill Belichick was also optimistic after last night’s game, telling the media that they’ll be ready to go and are looking forward to the start of the season.

“It’s been a good preseason, long one. I think the players worked hard,” said Belichick. “I think everyone is ready to start the season next week and we’ll get at it right away. That’s where we’re at.”
 
“Everything concerns you until you get into the regular season and see how you match up against everybody, and how they match up against you,” said Belichick. “We’ll find out where we’re at soon enough.”

Jeff Howe of NESN.com writes that Belichick’s job didn’t get a whole lot easier after last night’s game, and there will be some tough decisions to be made in the coming days.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe writes that although the team was better last night, they still weren’t quite right and have plenty to work on over the next week.

Albert Breer of the Boston Globe feels that it’s going to take some time before the young players in the defense get more comfortable, and last night really wasn’t that bad despite being picked apart early on.

I have a look at what I thought went well and didn’t go well last night, although overall I was pleased with what I saw, and definitely feel there’s now some reasons to be optimistic heading into the first game against the Bengals in two weeks.

Breer also has a very good article in a similar piece on who were the “Movers and Shakers” of last night’s game.

Erik Scalavino of Patriots.com also breaks down last night’s game, and looks at who impressed, and who didn’t.

Christopher Price has a great read this morning in his usual “10 Things We Learned From Last Night”.  It’s got a lot of great analysis including some insightful comments on the play of the secondary last night, so be sure to check it out.

Former Patriot Troy Brown has his doubts about the instincts of some of the younger guys to this point, and had some interesting comments last night after the game.

“You still want to see your guys play solid defense, even when they’re in their basic stuff,” said Brown. “[It] just seems like some of those guys in the secondary aren’t very instinctive players right now.
 
“You’ve got to be able to react to certain plays, you’ve got to be able to pattern read a little bit, know what’s coming . . . know what the combinations are and get to the spot before the ball gets there or when the ball’s getting there and break the pass up,” said Brown. “We didn’t see any of that the last two weeks.”

If you click the link there are more comments from Brown, who should know what it’s like to be thrust into the defensive backfield.  After all, he was put in that position at the end of his career, and actually didn’t play that poorly.

Tom Curran has an interesting read in his “Five Things To Remember” as he looks back at several key things from last night’s game.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald looks at Laurence Maroney’s return to the lineup last night.  Maroney was positive after the game, saying he’s, “just one of the guys”.

“I’m just one of the guys right now. I’m just being patient and sitting back and seeing how things play out,” he said. “Like I said, it’s just one of them situations where I’m always going to be prepared for anything. For the best or for the worst. Whenever they call my number, I’m always going to be ready.”

The Boston Globe also has a look at Maroney, who didn’t start but he did get some snaps with the second team offense, although he didn’t get very far.  He carried 9-times for 32 yards (3.6 avg) which wasn’t terrible, but we’ll have to see how things shake out tomorrow when the team cuts down to the mandatory 53-man roster limit.

Our friends over at NEPatriotsDraft.com have what will likely be their final roster prediction available for anyone who’d like to compare yours to what they’ve come up with, and they apparently feel that it’s not Maroney who may be going, but instead it could potentially be runningback Sammy Morris who may be the odd man out after Saturday’s cut downs.

Monique Walker of the Boston Globe spoke with Ross Ventrone after last night’s game, and he’s hoping for a shot at sticking around a little longer after already being cut and re-signed during training camp.

Wide receiver Wes Welker seemed a little frustrated after last night’s game, telling Albert Breer of the Boston Globe, “I don’t feel the same”.  Welker feels that although he’s made a lot of progress, he’s still not quite where he wants to be just yet.

Mark Farinella takes a look at what has been a great preseason for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had another night where he spent some time in the endzone.

And finally Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com takes us back through the last four weeks in a great piece that discusses 10 things we’ve learned through four preseason games.

That’s it for this morning.  Hopefull all of you have a great day, and we’ll have more later on.