Pre-season games are more than just an end result. For most fans and members of the media, pre-season preparation is a way to gain information about teams and players before the start of the regular season. Fans of both the Giants and Patriots learned things about their teams Thursday night, apart from the Giants’ 23-21 win.
The Giants dominated the first half in terms of statistics. New York gained more than three times as many yards as they were leading 10-7 into the break. The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter before New York extended its 20-14 lead in less than five minutes in the fourth quarter. New England rose to take the lead on rookie quarterback Billy Zappy’s 20-yard pass to Lil’ Jordan Humphrey with 4:51 remaining to the left. However, the Giants campaigned late in the game, winning the match on a Graham Gano field goal from 24 yards out as time expired.
Here are the main points from Thursday night’s game.
He got off to a strong start in the NFL
With McJones sidelined, the Patriots’ fourth-round pick received a heavy workload Thursday night. The former Western Kentucky quarterback went 19 of 32 for 205 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His highlight was his scoring pass to Humphrey, who led New England with 62 yards in six receptions.
Giants O . line shines
While they did allow some shots on Daniel Jones (more on that later), the Giants’ offensive streak was exceptional at blocking the run. The Giants rushed for 177 yards on 33 gigs, compared to 52 yards for the Patriots on 18 gigs. New York was led on the ground by Antonio Williams, who ran for 61 yards and scored nine times.
Thornton scores his first NFL TD
Tyquan Thornton’s first NFL reception led to a touchdown, as New England’s second-round pick managed to break free into the back of the end zone before pulling in Brian Hoyer’s pass. Expected to bring an element of speed to the Patriots’ receiving corps, Thornton earned 10 touchdown assists during his final season at Baylor. He averaged 15.7 yards per catch throughout his time with the Bears.
Malcolm Butler became a household name after being named the game’s winner at Super Bowl XLIX. Mel Butler made big plans come true again Thursday night. The new fourth-seeded Patriots (Butler switched from his old No. 21) captured Terrence Mitchell’s forced confusion for the Giants outside of Colin Johnson’s third acquisition for New York. Butler played his first game in nearly two years after retiring before the start of the 2021 season.
Barkley’s first strong pre-season appearance
Giants running back Saquon Barclay looked good in his sole possession. He had four mounts for 13 yards and also had an 8-yard pass in third to help the Giants move the chains. Barkley is hoping to return to his level this season after the injuries he suffered in the previous two seasons.
Jones feels hot
Jones was solid in his under-center chain. The quarterback went in Game 6 of 10 for 69 yards while leading New York to a field goal in the game’s opening round. His favorite target was Johnson, who picked up both goals from Jones for 30 yards. Johnson finished the game with seven catches for 82 yards.
But Jones did not leave the match unscathed. On his last drive, he took a sack of Josh O’Shea before getting injured on his last pass attempt. The previous first-round pick was sacked 105 times during the first three seasons but only 22 times in 11 games in 2021.
The Patriots play the call
The looming question was who would call up the plays in New England now that Josh McDaniels was in Las Vegas. The Patriots don’t seem to know this answer either, as Matt Patricia and Joe Judge took turns calling plays Thursday night. Patricia appears to be calling the plays during Hoyer’s possessions in the first half, while the judge calls the plays for Zappe.
Trey Nixon makes presence felt
The New England young receiver picked up 36 passes and 32 yards on the Patriots’ illuminated campaign to start the second half. A seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Nixon caught 11 touchdowns and averaged 15.6 yards per catch during the UCF’s two active seasons.
New England suffers multiple injuries to the O . streak
An injury error hit the Patriots’ offensive line on Thursday night. Justin Heron, Yodney Cajost and Bill Murray all left the match with injuries. Despite those injuries, the Patriots’ patchwork offensive line was good enough to help New England take a 21-20 lead late in the game.
Taylor still gets it
Tyrod Taylor looked sharp in his first game for the Giants before the start of the season. The veteran 12-year-old and former Pro Bowler started a 12-of-14 game for 118 yards and a touchdown to Ritchie James gave the Giants a 10-7 lead late in the first half. The 33-year-old appears to be able to lead the Attack on Titan if asked to do so.
blasphemy (also known as unsportsmanlike) penalties have been a hot issue over the past few weeks, as the NFL has been cracking down on taunting. A no-headed penalty kick was assessed to giant corner back Aaron Robinson at the end of the first quarter. Punishment helped create the Patriots’ first landing.
The Giants host the Asian champions the Cincinnati Bengals on August 20, while the Patriots face Baker Mayfield and the Panthers on August 19.