Patriots 0-7-0-3 — 17
Panthers 3-3-10-0 — 16
Click here for the full box score. Read on for the highlights.
Charles Tillman Picks Off Tom Brady Midway Through the 1st
Just one play after Brady moved the ball past midfield for the first time all preseason, he was intercepted by Charles Tillman. It wasn’t so much Brady’s fault, though, as he put the ball into Aaron Dobson’s hands, but Tillman wrestled it away from the third-year wide receiver as they fell to the ground.
It has been an ugly start for both offenses. Through five drives, there have been a total of 33 yards on 17 plays, one first down (which came on a Brady scramble) and an interception.
Graham Gano Puts Panthers on the Board First
Following the interception, Cam Newton looked much better on his third drive of the game than the firs two. He connected on some nice throws, completing 5-of-6 for 38 yards before the drive fizzled out at the 2-yard line and Graham Gano came in for the chip shot.
With Kelvin Benjamin out and Devin Funchess not playing, Newton targeted Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn and Jerricho Cotchery most often.
Brady Tosses Second Interception of 1st Quarter
This time, it wasn’t his receiver’s fault. Just three plays after his first interception, Brady was looking for Dobson but didn’t see Panthers safety Kurt Coleman, who jumped the route for the team’s second takeaway in as many possessions. It was a forgettable first quarter for the two-time MVP:
The Panthers went three-and-out on the subsequent drive, with a drop from Olsen on first down spoiling the possession from the onset.
Corey Brown’s Drops Force Panthers to Settle for Field Goal
Well, that’s not a way to take advantage of an opportunity. Seeing increased targets due to the injuries in Carolina’s receiving corps, Corey Brown let what would have been a long touchdown slip through his hands late in the second quarter. Later on the drive, he compounded his mistake by dropping another ball on third down, forcing Carolina to settle for a field goal.
Patriots Triple Yardage on One Drive
Brady saved his best for possibly last. On the Patriots’ first six drives, he was 2-of-7 for 13 yards and two interceptions. On the last drive of the half, he went 5-of-6 for 71 yards, capping off the efficient march with a gorgeous touch pass to Scott Chandler for the 18-yard touchdown.
He finishes his night 7-of-13 for 84 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, giving him a QB rating of 59.9. With Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman again out, Chandler was his top target, pulling down three receptions for 40 yards.
Mike Tolbert Puts Panthers in Front
Mike Tolbert scored from the two-yard line, which is pretty normal, but he scored on a reception, which isn’t quite as normal.
It was an impressive drive from Newton out of the locker room, as he led the Panthers 80 yards on nine plays. He finishes the game 17-of-28 for 160 yards and one touchdown. His numbers could have been a lot better if his receivers helped him out a little more, but he may need to get used to that with Benjamin out for the year.
Olsen pulled down six of his nine targets for 51 yards, leading the starters.
Dion Lewis Scores on the Slant
The battle for the Pats’ 3rd-down back rages on, and Dion Lewis continues to make an extremely compelling case. He caught five passes a week ago, and after some nice runs Friday night, he lined up on the outside for an easy nine-yard touchdown.
It also capped a nice drive for Jimmy Garoppolo. The second-year QB had two bad throws that should have been intercepted on his first drive, but he looked much better here, tossing two gorgeous throws to lead the 40-yard touchdown march.
Stephen Gostkowski Gives Pats Lead With 53-Yard Field Goal
Unfortunately for the Pats, Gostkowski’s long field goal was tough to enjoy, as it came just moments after a somber play. Fan favorite fullback James Develin appeared to violently hit his shin against another player and had to be carted off.
As Bill Belichick and others came out to console him, all indications were that it was a very serious injury.
It’s a battle of struggling offenses.
During the Patriots’ 26-24 win against the New Orleans Saints last week, Tom Brady played three series with the first-team offense, completing just two of five throws for 13 yards and zero first downs. Granted, without Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell, he has basically been playing catch with the wind, but it would probably be nice to see the chains move at least a couple of times.
Brady should see plenty of work in Friday’s dress rehearsal, and with a full stable of running backs, Reggie Wayne now in the mix and Gronk a maybe, he should have no trouble marching the ball down the field.
As for the Panthers, Cam Newton’s first foray into life without Kelvin Benjamin was nightmarish: 4-of-10, 42 yards and one interception. And unlike Brady with Edelman and Gronk, Newton won’t be getting Benjamin (torn ACL) back anytime soon, so it’s imperative he quickly finds a rhythm with his current offense.
Perhaps the most important individual in helping him do so is rookie Devin Funchess, a big-bodied target who is expected to take Benjamin’s spot. Guys like Corey Brown and Ted Ginn will also be worth keeping an eye on, especially if Funchess (hamstring) doesn’t play.
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