Final, Patriots 17-12: The 2018 New England Patriots preseason is in the books. Next up: Week 1.
The Danny Etling-led Patriots backups defeated the New York Giants’ reserves Thursday night, a performance headlined by cornerback J.C. Jackson’s two interceptions and Etling’s electric 86-yard touchdown run.
Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the rest of New England’s starters will return to the field next Sunday when the Patriots host the Houston Texans in their regular-season opener.
Fourth quarter, 3:56, Patriots 17-6: Danny Etling just ran for an 86-yard touchdown on a read-option. Yes, you read that correctly.
Etling, a quarterback who’s not known for having blazing speed or elite athleticism, has five carries for 115 yards and a touchdown tonight. What a world.
Fourth quarter, 4:11, Patriots 10-6: Patriots safety update: A.J. Moore has recovered from his injury and is back on the field, with Jason McCourty and Jordan Richards both watching from the sideline.
It remains unclear whether McCourty, Richards or both will make the team. Speaking of potential roster cuts, defensive tackle Vincent Valentine has played this entire game.
The Giants drove into the red zone on their latest drive but left without points, with Alex Tanney throwing incomplete to Garrett Dickerson on fourth down.
Fourth quarter, 13:00, Patriots 10-6: Danny Etling seems to have little regard for his own well-being when he carries the football, which is both dangerous and endearing.
The rookie QB has absorbed big hits on multiple scrambles tonight, including a 13-yarder on the latest drive that gave New England a first down on third-and-12. Two plays later, Etling served as a lead blocker for Khalfani Muhammad on a 16-yard run.
Penalties derailed the promising Patriots drive, which ended with a perfect punt by Ryan Allen that pinned the Giants at their own 1-yard line.
Third quarter, 4:23, Patriots 10-6: J.C. Jackson, the star of the night for the Patriots, was just carted to the locker room after suffering what appeared to be a lower left leg injury on a Giants punt.
We’ll have to wait and see on the severity of Jackson’s injury, but this is a cruel development for a player who likely had played his way onto the 53-man roster.
UPDATE: We did not have to wait long. Jackson left the game to be treated for dehydration, according to the Patriots. Crisis averted.
Third quarter, 10:56, Patriots 10-6: A 45-yard heave from Danny Etling to K.J. Maye set the Patriots up inside the Giants’ 5-yard line, and Etling followed that up with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Ralph Webb.
Deep passes like that were Etling’s strong suit in training camp.
When the Patriots’ defense returned to the field, so too did veteran cornerback/safety Jason McCourty, who started the game but hadn’t played since the first quarter. McCourty’s re-entry likely has something to do with the injury safety A.J. Moore suffered during the second quarter, but regardless, it isn’t a great sign for him to be on the field this late in the game.
Third quarter, 13:01, Giants 6-3: J.C. Jackson is having a superb night, first-half touchdown allowed notwithstanding.
Jackson just intercepted his second pass of the game and also has two additional pass breakups. It’s very hard to imagine the Patriots leaving him off the 53-man roster at this point.
Halftime, Giants 6-3: The first half ends with Danny Etling’s second interception of the night followed by an Eric Lee sack. This has been one ugly football game.
Second quarter, 2:49, Giants 6-3: This certainly has been an eventful night for J.C. Jackson.
After intercepting a pass and allowing a long touchdown earlier, the undrafted rookie cornerback just made a nice recovery to break up a Kyle Lauletta deep ball and halt a Giants drive.
Patriots offensive tackle Ulrick John, who limped off the field earlier in the quarter, is being evaluated for a foot injury, per the Patriots.
Second quarter, 7:10, Giants 6-3: The Patriots shouldn’t have any problem slipping Danny Etling onto the practice squad if they so choose.
The rookie third-string quarterback has been wildly erratic tonight, misfiring on short, intermediate and deep passes. He was burned by a Paul Turner drop during the Patriots’ latest drive but ended that series with a poor throw that resulted in an interception.
On a positive note, wide receiver K.J. Maye had this nice catch-and-run a few plays earlier:
But on another negative note, the Ulrick John’s night might be over after the offensive lineman limped off the field and was taken to the locker room. John was in the mix for a roster spot entering tonight.
Second quarter, 12:17, Giants 6-3: The first big play of the night comes courtesy of Giants receiver Amba Etta-Tawo, who beat J.C. Jackson on a crossing route and sprinted the rest of the way for a 41-yard touchdown.
Jackson was unable to navigate his way through traffic as he tried to track Etta-Tawo over the middle, then whiffed on a potential touchdown-saving tackle once he caught up to the wideout inside the 5-yard line. Safety A.J. Moore also had an opportunity to bring Etta-Tawo down near the goal line and was unable to do so.
In other news, Jason McCourty’s night appears to be done. After starting the game at safety, the veteran now is on the sideline with his helmet and gloves off. What does that mean? We’ll find out Saturday.
First quarter, 0:59, Patriots 3-0: Picked off by J.C. Jackson, the Patriots rookie cornerback who is finishing off an impressive summer.
Jackson, who had his best game of the preseason last week against the Panthers, ran stride for stride with Kalif Raymond and intercepted a Kyle Lauletta deep ball. He has a strong chance of making the 53-man roster.
The Patriots proceeded to go three-and-out.
First quarter, 2:32, Patriots 3-0: Danny Etling continues to be erratic on short passes — a problem he’s had all summer — but he made the best play of his young NFL career during the Patriots first scoring drive of the night.
Facing a second-and-6, Etling scrambled to evade pressure and absorbed a big hit from linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong as he completed a 13-yard pass to Devin Lucien that moved the chains.
The Patriots also picked up an extra 15 yards when linebacker Mark Herzlich was called for lowering the head to initiate contact. The Giants had been flagged for another violation of the new helmet rule four plays earlier.
Etling guided the Patriots into the red zone but couldn’t connect with Lucien in the end zone on third-and-9 from the 14. Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 33-yard field goal to get the Pats on the board.
Worth monitoring: Tight end Will Tye left the game with an apparent injury during the drive.
First quarter, 7:10, 0-0: Three consecutive Kyle Lauletta incompletions led to another Giants punt.
Cyrus Jones, who’s the Patriots’ top slot corner tonight, was in coverage on two of those misfires. Defensive tackle Adam Butler forced the third incompletion with strong interior pressure.
First quarter, 9:14, 0-0: Danny Etling hasn’t exactly lit it up here in this first quarter. Through two drives, he’s 2-for-4 for 7 yards.
On New England’s second possession, the rookie QB missed an open K.J. Maye downfield on first down and then took a sack on third-and-9, resulting in another Patriots punt.
First quarter, 11:32, 0-0: The Giants opened their first possession by picking up 20 yards on a pass from Kyle Lauletta to Travis Rudolph. Their drive stalled after that, though, bringing out the punt team.
Jason McCourty started at free safety for the Patriots after shifting there from cornerback midway through last week’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. He needs a strong performance tonight to secure a roster spot.
First quarter, 13:39, 0-0: Quick opening drive for the Patriots, who gained 5 yards on three plays before punting.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Giants won the opening coin toss and chose to defer. Danny Etling and the Patriots will get the ball first tonight.
6:29 p.m.: The following players were not on the field during warmups:
WR/ST Matthew Slater
RB Sony Michel
RB Rex Burkhead
S Nate Ebner
LB Christian Sam
TE Jacob Hollister
LB Harvey Langi
OT Marcus Cannon
OL Luke Bowanko
OT Isaiah Wynn
TE Ryan Izzo
DE Trey Flowers
Sam being out is a surprise. The sixth-round draft pick and was expected to see considerable time on defense tonight.
Seventh-round pick Danny Etling will lead New England’s offense in this one.
6:21 p.m.: Scratch that: Berrios is in uniform tonight despite not warming up with the returners.
6:12 p.m.: It appears we will not see Braxton Berrios again tonight. The rookie wide receiver has not played since Week 1 of the preseason.
Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Cyrus Jones, Riley McCarron and K.J. Maye all returned punts during warmups, while Cordarrelle Patterson, Jeremy Hill, Jomal Wiltz and Khalfani Muhammad returned kicks.
Edelman, Hogan, McCarron, Patterson and Hill all are not expected to play tonight.
5:30 p.m. ET: Good evening from MetLife Stadium, where the New England Patriots and New York Giants are preparing to square off in the preseason finale for both teams.
As is typical in Week 4 of the preseason, most starters and established veterans won’t see the field tonight. The following players were seen running sprints during warmups, indicating they likely will not play and, in all likelihood, have earned spots on the 53-man roster:
QB Tom Brady
RB James White
RB Jeremy Hill
RB Mike Gillislee
RB Brandon Bolden
FB James Develin
WR Julian Edelman
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
WR Chris Hogan
WR Phillip Dorsett
WR Riley McCarron
TE Dwayne Allen
TE Rob Gronkowski
OT Trent Brown
OT LaAdrian Waddle
G Shaq Mason
G Joe Thuney
C David Andrews
DT Malcom Brown
DT Lawrence Guy
DT Danny Shelton
DE Deatrich Wise
DE Adrian Clayborn
LB Kyle Van Noy
LB Dont’a Hightower
LB Brandon King
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley
LB Elandon Roberts
CB Stephon Gilmore
CB Jonathan Jones
CB Eric Rowe
FS Duron Harmon
FS Devin McCourty
SS Patrick Chung
There aren’t many surprises on that list, but there are a few, namely McCarron, Gillislee and Roberts, all of whom are assumed to be on the roster bubble.
In addition to those players, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, running backs Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel, tight ends Jacob Hollister and Ryan Izzo, offensive lineman Luke Bowanko and linebacker Harvey Langi all are expected to sit out tonight’s game with injuries.
Some notable players who are expected to play tonight: cornerbacks Jason McCourty, Cyrus Jones and J.C. Jackson, defensive tackle Adam Butler, defensive end Keionta Davis, linebackers Marquis Flowers and Nicholas Grigsby, guard/center Ted Karras, running back Ralph Webb and quarterback Danny Etling.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET. Keep it locked here for full coverage.
Thumbnail photo via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images