Tom Brady, Wes Welker Carry Patriots to Victory in Atlanta


Tom Brady, Wes Welker Carry Patriots to Victory in Atlanta Final, Patriots 28-10:
The Patriots have closed out the Falcons in Atlanta and improved their preseason record to 2-0. Stay with NESN.com for complete coverage.

Fourth quarter, 5:52, Patriots 28-10: Brandon McGowan missed a tackle and allowed Troy Bergeron to score a 19-yard touchdown. That's the kind of stuff that landed McGowan on the bench late in 2009.

Fourth quarter, 6:00, Patriots 28-3: Credit outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich with a sack of John Parker Wilson. Ninkovich was with the first-team defense at the outset of camp but has since been passed over by Marques Murrell, Derrick Burgess and Jermaine Cunningham. Still, Ninkovich is a guy who the Patriots have to like coming off the bench.

Fourth quarter, 14:17, Patriots 28-3: Brian Hoyer hooked up with rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 24-yard touchdown pass on a seam route. Gronkowski beat linebacker Spencer Adkins, and Hoyer made a perfect throw to lead Gronkowski to the end zone. He is going to be a difficult matchup for defensive players. He's way, way too big for safeties, and his receiving skills will put linebackers at a disadvantage. You saw it there.

End of third quarter, Patriots 21-3: If I'm Bill O'Brien, I wear out New England's running backs from here on out. The Falcons can't stop the run, but they've had an easy job teeing off on Brian Hoyer and the second-string offensive line. The Patriots have 26 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns through three quarters.

Third quarter, 1:03, Patriots 21-3: Hey, Ron Brace made a big play just four days after practicing for the first time. Brace forced running back Dimitri Nance to fumble, and linebacker Tyrone McKenzie pounced on the biscuit to give the Patriots good field position. That's a big sequence from a tandem of players who are on the roster bubble.

Third quarter, 2:27, Patriots 21-3: It's been a similar story for the second-team offense. The O-line can't pass protect, and Brian Hoyer has had very little time to move the ball. Wide receiver Brandon Tate made a nice play, shaking corner Gabe Derricks for a 15-yard gain. Tate is going to execute a lot of exciting plays this season.

Third quarter, 8:28, Patriots 21-3: This isn't the greatest night for the Falcons' run defense. Sammy Morris busted one for a 20-yard touchdown, juking safety Matt Giordano out of his Nikes. It's been a highlight-reel kind of night for the Patriots.

Third quarter, 12:30, Patriots 14-3: Kyle Arrington just stole Antone Smith's lunch money and bought himself a new pair of shoes with it.

Third quarter, 14:45: Patriots 14-3: Remember when Jim Mora was a head coach in the National Football League? Well, now he's doing color commentary for celebrity flag football games and signing $1 bills for Falcons fans. Randy Moss, on the other hand, signs Benjamins. Straight cash, homey!

Third quarter, 15:00, Patriots 14-3: Yup, that's it for Tom Brady. Brian Hoyer has led the second-team offense onto the field to cap another good night for the No. 1s. Let's see if the second-team offensive line can keep Hoyer off the soil for a change.

Halftime, Patriots 14-3: Another good half for the Patriots, whose first team has been better than the Saints and Falcons in two preseason games. Still not completely clear if Tom Brady's night is over. Brian Hoyer relieved him in the final seconds of the first half, but there was little reason to keep Brady in the game for that series anyway. Brady took 26 snaps — nine more than last week — over three series. He's led the offense to three touchdowns in five preseason possessions.

Have to like what Fred Taylor did in the first half, registering 54 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. Taylor has had a relatively uninspiring training camp, so this has been a good indication that Taylor still has some gas left in the tank.

Also, rookie cornerback Devin McCourty played well again, making plays along the line of scrimmage, tackling well on the outside and breaking up a pass intended for Roddy White.

New England's run defense has struggled, yielding 49 yards on 11 carries by Atlanta running backs Michael Turner (eight carries, 32 yards) and Antone Smith (three carries, 17 yards).

Second quarter, 0:41, Patriots 14-3: Jonathan Wilhite intercepted John Parker Wilson's last-ditch heave on fourth-and-15. Brian Hoyer also took over for Tom Brady, and the second-year quarterback isn't wearing a brace on his left knee, so that's obviously a good sign.

Second quarter, 4:00, Patriots 14-3: Matt Ryan's night is over, and former Alabama star John Parker Wilson has taken charge for the Falcons.

Second quarter, 4:51, Patriots 14-3: Tom Brady hooked up with new weapon Aaron Hernandez for a four-yard touchdown pass to the back of the end zone. Brady threw the ball behind Hernandez's back hip, and the rookie tight end turned around to make a nice grab and cap of Brady's third touchdown drive in five preseason possessions.

Second quarter, 6:17, Patriots 7-3: There have been a string of mistakes in this one. Tom Brady fumbled the ball after taking a hit from Kroy Biermann, but the Patriots recovered. Then, Stephen Gostkowski pushed a 36-yard field goal but drew a bad personal foul on Chevis Jackson, who slid under Gostkowski's leg. The drive continues.

Second quarter, 9:20, Patriots 7-3: Fred Taylor is really running hard, and he barreled through a couple of tacklers on third-and-1 to give the Patriots a first down. The coaching staff is going to have a difficult decision to make if they only carry four running backs. Taylor has nine carries for 47 yards.

Second quarter, 11:44, Patriots 7-3: Matt Bryant pushed a 47-yard field-goal attempt, and the Patriots will take over at their own 37. Brandon Meriweather made a nice play on third down, knocking a pass out of the hands of Tony Gonzalez to force the field-goal try.

End of first quarter, Patriots 7-3: The Patriots' second offensive possession was a bit shorter. So far this preseason, Tom Brady and the first-teamers have had four possessions, and they've scored two touchdowns and gone three-and-out twice. Not much middle ground there. Also, Wes Welker's night appears to be over. He was on the sidelines with a towel draped over his melon, so it looks like he reached his allotted reps.

First quarter, 3:15, Patriots 7-3: So much for Fred Taylor's pedestrian training camp. Taylor ran through — abused, really — safety Thomas DeCoud and cut outside to run it into the end zone from 28 yards out.

First quarter, 5:00, Falcons 3-0: Atlanta got away with a pass-interference penalty that would have given the Patriots about 55 yards. Randy Moss split through three defensive backs, and Tom Brady's throw was just a bit short. Moss got thumped as he slowed up to try making the play.

First quarter, 7:56, Falcons 3-0: Fred Taylor got the start at running back, which means he'll likely garner the majority of the early reps, much like BenJarvus Green-Ellis did last week. And Wes Welker got his first reps and caught two passes for 20 yards right away. He also took a little contact to his left knee — which is shielded by a brace — and popped right back up. Good signs all around.

First quarter, 9:28, Falcons 3-0: Matt Bryant hit a 46-yard field to cap off the Falcons' opening drive. Vince Wilfork lined up at defensive end on a handful of snaps, with Gerard Warren at nose tackle. Also, Derrick Burgess and Marques Murrell got the start at outside linebacker. The Patriots did a good job to create pressure with a four-man rush on Atlanta's failed third down, so that's a positive. I also liked how rookie cornerback Devin McCourty attacked the line in the running game.

First quarter, 14:54, 0-0: The Patriots and Falcons are underway, and Matt Ryan's offensive unit takes over at the Atlanta 23-yard line.

8:04 p.m.: Joe Buck's hair is especially aerodynamic this evening. That takes dedication.

7:35 p.m.: Reporters in Atlanta indicate outside linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Tully Banta-Cain are not in uniform. Cunningham has missed both preseason games so far, which is obviously stunting the rookie's development. I spotted trainers working on Banta-Cain's right ankle Sunday, so I'm guessing that's the problem for this one.

7:25 p.m.: Wes Welker is in full pads on the field in Atlanta, and he appears to be ready to make the next step in his remarkable recovery process. Kickoff is in about 35 minutes.

6:20 p.m.: Multiple reporters in Atlanta have said Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is on the field warming up in football pants. It looks like he'll make his return in this one. After all, it wouldn't make a ton of sense to have him warm up if he wasn't playing, would it? Yes, Bill Belichick likes having his players go through a full pregame routine even if they aren't playing in the preseason, but that would seem trivial in Welker's case.

Also interesting to note backup quarterback Brian Hoyer was warming up while wearing a large brace on his left knee. This is a new development.

11:30 a.m.: It's hard to keep up with all 53 guys on the roster in the regular season, let alone the 80-some-odd players who suit up in training camp and the preseason. That's why we've created the Patriots' full-team depth chart, so use it as a reference point Thursday night to see who is rising and who is falling.

8 a.m.: The preseason rolls on in Atlanta, where the Falcons will host the Patriots on Thursday night in each team's second exhibition game. The teams know each other well after holding two joint practices Tuesday, and that should heighten the intensity of the game.

Wes Welker's status remains uncertain, but his comments Monday made it sound like he might miss his second game during his injury rehabilitation.

With that, all eyes will be on Tom Brady, Randy Moss and the rest of the starters' playing time. There's a good chance they'll make a strong push through the second quarter as they work toward getting in game shape for the regular season.

Stick with NESN.com's live blog throughout the day as we immerse you in all things Patriots.

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