August 10, 2002
Pats Drop 2002 PreSeason Opener 22-19
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- New England dropped their 2002 PreSeason opener on Saturday night, losing 22-19 to the New York Giants.
Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri accounted for 12 of New England's 19 points, kicking field goals of 26, 50, 36, and 38-yards. The Patriots managed just one offensive touchdown in the game, which had second string quarterback Damon Huard taking advantage of wide receiver Donald Hayes' 6'4" height to make a leaping grab in the corner of the endzone. That's a play that fans may hope they will see more often this season.
Fellow teammate and rookie wide receiver Deion Branch stepped in for the injured Troy Brown and had an excellent outing in his NFL debut. He finished the evening with 8 receptions for 129 yards including a 62-yard bomb from quarterback Tom Brady (7-of-11 for 104yds) on the first play from scrimmage to start the game. Branch and teammate David Patten (3 receptions for 29 yards) got the starting nod in Saturday's game and were the focus of New England's passing attack, with both players accounting for five of Brady's 7 completions.
The Patriots offensive woes continued Saturday, with the first string offense converting a mere 2-of-5 third down plays and failing to capitalize on Branch's 62-yard reception which gave them 1st-and-10 at the Giants 12-yard line. New England gained 3-yards on three plays before settling for a 26-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 12:46 remaining in the first quarter.
On the Giants second possession of the game quarterback Kerry Collins connected on a 31-yard pass to Jeremy Shockey which helped set up a 34-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer, giving the Giants a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter.
But New England later re-took the lead after Huard in his second series of the game lead the Patriots from their own 27-yard line all the way to the Giants 4 before connecting with Hayes in the endzone to put them back up 10-7. Huard was 6-of-6 for 60-yards on that 73-yard drive.
The Giants later added a 1-yard touchdown by runningback Ron Dayne to go up 14-10, but on the ensuing kickoff Kevin Faulk returned the kick 35-yards to the Giants 49-yard line. With :27 seconds remaining in the game the Patriots moved the ball to New York's 31-yard line where Adam Vinatieri converted a 50-yard field goal to close the gap to one point as time expired in the first half.
A fourth quarter field goal with just over 13-minutes remaining in the game gave New England a 16-14 lead, but the Patriots weren't able to hold onto it. Third string quarterback Rohan Davey was picked off while attempting a screen pass by defensive end Frank Ferrara, and on their first play from scrimmage Antonio Warren took off 30-yards down the field to the endzone. The Giants converted the two-point conversion to put New York up 22-16 with 4:22 remaining in the game.
New England answered on their next possession on a 38-yard field goal by Vinatieri to close the the gap to within 3 and Belichick decided that with all three timeouts at his disposal he'd let the defense give him a chance to get the football back. They did their job, forcing the Giants to punt after a three-and-out.
However there would be no miracle for New England.
As the Giants were punting the ball away linebacker Matt Chatham was called for roughing the punter while attempting to block the punt, and New York had an automatic first down. They knelt down twice, and just like that the game was over.
The Patriots will now return home to face the Philidelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium next Saturday night in Foxboro.
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