The New England Patriots preseason has finally arrived as their first game pitted them against the Washington Redskins. After a difficult first half, the team was able to pull themselves together for a 26-17 victory. Even though this was only the first game of the preseason, a handful of players stood out during the game, for better or for worse.
Rookie running back Ralph Webb was the top player coming out of this first game. With Dion Lewis gone, Belichick is looking for the next man ready to fill the massive gap he left in New England’s offense. Webb made it clear that he has the potential and the mindset to fill this gap. Webb had 14 carries for 46 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 two-point conversions. The running back accounted for 16 of the Patriot’s 26 points. His energy and second efforts put the Patriots back in the game and won it for them.
Right behind Webb, Jeremy Hill put up a similar performance with his athletic play. Hill finished the game with 11 carries for 51 yards, 2 catches for 14 yards, and the Patriot’s first touchdown of the preseason. Hill’s touchdown sparked the rest of the team into making their push for the victory over the Redskins. With five years of experience in the pros, the running back was able to weave through defenders and gain first downs with little help from the rest of his team. The new Patriot shows promise for the regular season.
Defensive lineman Trent Harris had a great first game as a professional athlete. Harris wrapped up the game with 2 tackles, 1 sack for a loss of 8 yards, and 1 forced fumble. The sack/forced fumble was Harris’s key statistic from the game. The Patriots were only up by one point when Harris broke through the Redskins offensive line and stripped quarterback Kevin Hogan. Geneo Grissom recovered the fumble for the Patriots and ran it down to the 1 yard line where the team converted for a touchdown to secure their win. Had the lineman not gotten to Hogan in time, Washington could have scored and talent the lead over New England. The rookie has a lot to look forward to in the coming season.
Brian Hoyer had a very shaky start to the preseason. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 144 yards. Those aren’t great statistics as is, but here are a few other stats to keep in mind. New England had 20 total first downs; only 7 of which were accomplished by passing. The running backs carried the team in this game, with no help from the quarterback. In the first quarter, the Patriots had possession for 3:26 out of 15:00. In the first half, the Patriots had possession for 9:39 out of 30:00. Throughout the game, Hoyer had noticeably inconsistent passes, often throwing over the target’s head or behind them. The quarterback has much more to work on before the next game.
Ryan Lewis didn’t show up much in this game. The cornerback had 1 assisted tackle as his only statistic. However, one play is what put his name on this end of the spectrum. With just over 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Washington’s quarterback was strip sacked and the fumble was recovered by Geneo Grissom. Grissom ran the ball 53 yards, and he thought he was going to get the touchdown. In a video replay, the footage shows Grissom running with Lewis at his side, already celebrating the touchdown before he crossed into the end zone. A Redskins player cut Lewis off and took Grissom down at the 1 yard line before he could get the touchdown. Had Lewis been more aware, he would’ve blocked the defender for Grissom to score.
Even though the Patriots still scored on the play after, little mistakes like this one could’ve cost them the game. The score at this time during the game was 18-17 New England. Had they not converted for the touchdown, Washington could have easily used the remaining time in the fourth quarter to score and beat the Patriots, all because of that little mistake.
The rookie quarterback from LSU saw the last 7:40 against the Redskins, and didn’t make a very good first impression. On his first drive, he fumbled the ball away to Washington. Then he failed to make anything happen with Belichick’s two minute drill at the end of the game. By the end of the game, Etling completed 2 of 5 passes for 21 yards, along with one fumble for a loss of -3 yards. Even though this wasn’t the best way for a rookie to introduce himself to the pros, Belichick still believes he has the potential to be a good quarterback.
During a halftime interview, Belichick said that in the first half, “We had about 38 seconds of good football”. Hopefully by next week the team will play with more vigor as they go up against the Philadelphia Eagles.
-Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen