Some like to call it a ‘dress rehearsal.’ Others prefer the term ‘showcase.’ However, no matter its label, preseason game three in the NFL is generally a pretty good indicator of what fans might expect their team to look like as the regular season approaches. For the New England Patriots, the prospects of the 2019 campaign look to be bright, once again.
Tom Brady finished his first preseason game of 2019 by going 8 for 12 for 75 yards. The six-time Super Bowl champ showed flashes of the intelligence and skill that have made him beloved in New England, and envied by 31 other fan bases. While struggling at times to develop a synergy with undrafted rookie wideout Jakobi Meyers, Brady looked comfortable completing passes to receiver Phillip Dorsett, who caught seven passes for 57 yards. Brady’s highlights included a daring, but effective first-down scramble, as well as an 18-yard pass to tight end Ryan Izzo. That pass set up the game’s sole touchdown, a one-yard push by fullback James Develin in the second quarter. It was the starting offense’s final series.
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Brady was relieved by rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who went 15 for 19 for 134 yards. With Stidham, Meyers settled in and continued to help open the field. He finished the night catching seven passes for 74 yards. Brian Hoyer was available, but did not see action in Thursday’s game
From early in the second quarter, the Patriots held a 7-0 lead. However, with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Panthers’ kicker Joey Slye connected on a 41-yard field goal. Slye’s kick cut the Pats lead to 7-3.
For the Patriots, Stephen Gostkowski missed from 43 yards in the third quarter. While it was the third miss in as many games for the veteran kicker, it was a miss aided by a poor, ‘laces in’ hold by rookie punter Jake Bailey. Gostkowski would later seal the game with a make from 23 yards with 5:13 left, making it 10-3. With the victory, the Patriots improve to 3-0 during the 2019 Preseason.
Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, N’Keal Harry and Demaryius Thomas all sat out Thursday’s game.
Punt returner Gunner Olszewski returned four punts for 63 yards, including one for 28 yards.
Sony Michel continues to show improvement in his return from an injury that limited him early on in training camp. He completed a pair of impressive runs into coverage, displaying both power and speed.
The Patriots defense continues to impress with strong man coverage in the secondary, thus allowing the defensive front to get pressure on the quarterback.
Amidst reports of his indictment for possession of cocaine, safety Patrick Chung was not in attendance for the Patriots on Thursday.
Patriots’ special teamer Brandon King was carted off the field with about a minute to go in the first half after helping block on a punt return. King was seen clutching his left leg.
Running Back Damien Harris left in the second quarter with an undisclosed injury.
Tight end Benjamin Watson left the game after taking a late shot to the head from Panthers safety Eric Reid. Reid, who had been involved in a social media dispute with Watson earlier in the week, was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, as a result of the hit.
The Patriots will host the New York Giants next Thursday at Gillette Stadium in the final preseason game of 2019.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC