Rapid Reaction: Patriots 7, Saints 6
August, 9, 2012
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rapid reaction from the New England Patriots' 7-6 win over the New Orleans Saints in the preseason opener Thursday at Gillette Stadium:
Uninspiring performance, but we’ve seen it before. Overall, there was not too much to be excited about here, as it was an uninspiring preseason game. It was ugly at times, but as past preseasons have taught us, there is no reason to sound any alarms. Bill Belichick probably will mention multiple times that the team has a lot of work to do, as this game showed. The Saints led 3-0 at the half, before the Patriots went up 7-3 in the third quarter. The Saints kicked a fourth-quarter field goal, but John Kasay missed a 41-yard attempt late that could have put the Saints up.
Offensive line woes apparent. The Patriots’ first-unit offensive line of left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Donald Thomas, centers Dan Koppen/Ryan Wendell, right guard Dan Connolly and right tackle Marcus Cannon had a difficult time in the first half, and it paralyzed the offense. The second drive ended with Tom Brady getting crunched to the turf and losing a fumble. Solder, in particular, looked like he had a difficult evening on the edge.
Brady gets 19 snaps. Brady played two series and totaled 19 snaps (including penalties). The first-unit offense didn’t produce any points. Brady (4-of-7, 30 yards, long of 11 yards) didn’t have much of a chance to generate anything given the spotty protection in front of him.
First-round pick Jones a bright spot. One of the highlights for the Patriots came in the first half when rookie right defensive end Chandler Jones drew back-to-back holding penalties on first-unit left tackle Jermon Bushrod. Jones looks like he’s a starter at this point, ready to help the defense right away.
Fletcher injury thins LB depth. Reserve linebacker Dane Fletcher, who started in the preseason opener with Brandon Spikes not dressing, left the game with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the first quarter. Fletcher was covering a punt when he crashed to the turf and remained down. He went directly to the locker room, with members of the medical staff helping him off. That thrust Bobby Carpenter and Mike Rivera into expanded roles. Doesn’t look good for Fletcher, with multiple reports indicating he tore his ACL.
Reserve WR Davis leaves with injury. In addition to Fletcher, reserve receiver Britt Davis left the game midway through the fourth quarter. He was holding his right arm close to his side as he ran off.
Vereen stars in the second half. After not playing an offensive snap in the first half, second-year running back Shane Vereen stole the show on the opening drive of the second half, gaining 73 of the team’s 83 yards on a touchdown drive. Vereen’s speed was notable.
Moment of silence for Seau. The Patriots observed a moment of silence before the game for the late Junior Seau.
Calipari in the house. Former UMass and current Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari was in attendance, watching the game from Robert Kraft’s box.
Replacement refs not a major issue. The game was played with replacement officials, and there were no major issues.