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Game Notes: Patriots vs. Saints

The following are game notes from the New England Patriots preseason game vs. the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, August 9, 2012.


*The Patriots began the 2012 preseason with a 7-6 win. New England has now won four straight preseason openers dating back to 2009, and are now 9-4 (.692) in preseason openers since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000.

*The Patriots defense allowed the Saints to tally only six points tonight. Last season, the Saints offense gained an all-time NFL record 7,474 total net yards. The six points allowed was New England's lowest preseason scoring allowance in more than five years. The last time New England allowed six or fewer points in a preseason game was on Aug. 26, 2006, when the Patriots beat Washington 41-0.

*QB Tom Brady started the game and played through the first two drives. He was 4-for-7 for 30 yards. His first drive was an 11-play, 20-yard drive that ended on a forced fumble on a sack and his second was a 5-play, 20-yard drive that ended with a punt.

*QB Brian Hoyer and QB Ryan Mallett rotated the rest of the game after the first two drives. Mallett led the team with 89 passing yards on 8-for-19 passing, while Hoyer went 8-for-15 with a touchdown and 45 passing yards.

*Hoyer led a 14-play, 97-yard drive on the first series of the third quarter that started at the New England 3-yard line and ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to first-year WR Britt Davis.

*RB Shane Vereen had 73 total yards on the 97-yard drive that ended with a touchdown in the third quarter. On that drive, Vereen had 63 rushing yards on seven carries and one 10-yard catch.

*Second-year running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley combined for 19 rushes for 104 yards (5.5 avg.), pacing a Patriots running game that totaled 126 yards on 31 carries. Vereen led the team with 11 rushes for 64 yards, while Ridley added 40 yards on eight carries.

*Six of the seven Patriots 2012 draft picks made their NFL debuts tonight, including two that were in the starting lineup. First round picks DE Chandler Jones and LB Dont'a Hightower both were in the starting lineup on defense.

*Other Patriots draft picks playing tonight were DB Tavon Wilson (second round), DL Jake Bequette (third round), DB Nate Ebner (sixth round) and WR Jeremy Ebert (seventh round). DB Alfonzo Dennard (seventh round) did not dress for the game.

*Ten players signed as veteran free agents made their first appearance in a Patriots uniform tonight – CB Will Allen, DL Tim Bulman, LB Bobby Carpenter, CB Marquice Cole, S Steve Gregory, DL Marcus Harrison, WR Jesse Holley, WR Brandon Lloyd, S Derrick Martin, and LB Trevor Scott.

*Two veterans that were re-acquired by the Patriots this past offseason donned the New England uniform again tonight. WR Jabar Gaffney saw his first action with the Patriots since his previous stint with New England from 2006-08. WR Donte' Stallworth made his Patriots return tonight after previously playing in New England in 2007.

*Veteran C Dan Koppen made a successful return to the field after suffering a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2011 season at Miami on Sept. 21.


*Both Patriots starting safeties had interceptions inside the Patriots' own 20-yard line to end New Orleans scoring threats in the first half. First, newly acquired S Steve Gregory intercepted Saints QB Chase Daniel at the New England 12-yard line after LB Jerod Mayo tipped the ball. Gregory has four career interceptions during his six NFL seasons. Then, with under a minute to play in the first quarter, Patrick Chung picked off QB Sean Canfield at the New England 11-yard line.

*The last time the Patriots had two safeties with interceptions in the same game was on Dec. 26, 2010 at Buffalo, when Patrick Chung and Jarrad Page each intercepted Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick in a 34-3 Patriots win.

*DE Jake Bequette, the Patriots' 2012 third-round draft choice, registered a 1-yard sack in the fourth quarter.

*LB Trevor Scott sacked New Orleans QB Luke McCown for an 8-yard loss at the Saints' 6-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Scott also forced McCown to fumble on the play, but New Orleans was able to come up with the recovery.

*WR Julian Edelman led the team with four receptions and 36 receiving yards, including the Patriots' longest play from scrimmage for the evening, a 23-yard catch from Ryan Mallett.

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