Patriots Versus Saints Recap: Three Up, Three Down

First round draft pick Chandler Jones forced two holding penalties and will pay immediate dividends.

With great excitement, NFL season kicked off tonight for the New England Patriots tonight. The Super Bowl loss is behind this 2012 team and the page has officially been turned. Unfortunately, it was not the greatest start to season for the Pats as they came out very flat in Thursday night’s 7-6 win against the Saints. Sure, it’s just preseason, but the fact remains – they did not look good.

The play that stands out is Brady getting crushed in the first series on a sack where he lost the football. Thankfully he was okay and returned, but he held onto the football too long behind an offensive line missing three starters.

Three Up:

Chandler Jones – On three consecutive plays Jones made an impact in the first half. On the first two he drew holding penalties. During the third play, as the pocket collapsed, he took two steps back and threw his hands up which altered backup QB Chase Daniel’s throw which went for an incompletion. He had one tackle in the stat sheet, but the impssive and massive rookie made an immediate impact.

Shane Vereen – It did not start well for the second year running back, as he saw zero first half snaps at running back. However, he dominated running back touches in the third quarter and on the team’s 97-yard TD drive, he had a 10 yard catch and three consecutive runs of 18, 14, and 10 yards. Vereen is not a pounder by any means, but he made guys (third stringers) miss. It will be interesting to see if and when he gets burn with the starters.

Zoltan Mesko – A big night for Zoltan, as he notched eight punts (four inside the 20) for a 45.9 yard average. The third year punter looked to be in mid-season form too, on a second quarter punt where he was roughed (a flag was thrown) and he “played dead” on the ground for the official to see.

Honorable Mention: Jerod Mayo (pass deflection set up INT), Steven Gregory (showed good hands on INT and a nose for the football), Stevan Ridley (5 YPC), Kyle Love (stout and unheralded), Marquice Cole (trying to make team as fifth corner, impressive speed as gunner in punt formation; also whistled for block in the back)

Three Down:

Nate Solder – The second year left tackle was whistled for two first quarter holding penalties. One put the team in a 1st and 20 position on the drive where Brady was sacked and he fumbled. The other penalty erased a beautiful 17-yard reception for Brandon Lloyd over the middle. At least one of the penalties was questionable, but the new book-end for the Patriots would be better served not hearing his name heard.

Thankfully the Patriots have 11 days before their next game to work out the kinks.

Sterling Moore – Last year’s AFC Championship hero had a tough night. An early pass with him in coverage saw him turned around and not ready to defend. Next, he saw a possible interception go through his hands. Later in the game a 46-yard pass interference penalty was inadvertently called on Tavon Wilson when it was indeed Moore who made the contact. He is firmly behind McCourty, Arrington, and Dowling.

Dan Koppen – Tough to tell with offensive lineman, especially when you have a sideline view in the stands, but Koppen was taken out after one series then re-inserted later (no injury). Perhaps after not even playing a full game in 2011 the team wanted to pace him, but the offensive line with the first team appeared to be better with him off the field on the second series.

Honorable Mention: Stephen Gostkowski (53 yards is no gimmie, but he missed it to close the first half), Ryan Mallett (started off shaky, but shook cobwebs out as time progressed), Dane Fletcher (real tough luck for the back-up LB and core special teamer who tore his ACL on a punt that was called back following a penalty)

The Patriots do not play until Monday August 20th, which will give the team plenty of time to dissect and build on tonight’s preseason performance. Good to have the team back on the field and also very good that the team still has one month before it counts.

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