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Game Notes: Patriots vs. Texans Preseason Week 1

Game notes and records from Patriots PR.

Patriots defensive back Jalen Mills (2) intercepts Texans QB Malik Cunningham.
Patriots defensive back Jalen Mills (2) intercepts Texans QB Malik Cunningham.

PATRIOTS FORCE TWO TURNOVERS

The Patriots forced two turnovers in the preseason opener against Houston. The Patriots ended Houston's first drive when Jalen Mills picked off QB C.J. Stroud to set up a Patriots first down at the Houston 24-yard line. In the second quarter, LB Calvin Munson recovered a fumble at midfield. In 2022, the Patriots finished tied with San Francisco for second in the NFL with 30 takeaways (19 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries). Dallas led the NFL with 33 takeaways.

ELEVEN OF THE 12 2023 DRAFT SELECTIONS MADE THEIR NFL DEBUTS

Eleven of the 12 2023 NFL Draft picks made their NFL debut with six in the starting lineup. First-round pick CB Christian Gonzalez started at cornerback, second-round pick DE Keion White started at defensive end, fourth-round pick OL Sidy Sow started at right tackle, fifth-round pick OL Atonio Mafi started at left guard, sixth-round pick WR Kayshon Boutte and sixth-round pick WR Demario Douglas both started at wide receiver. Third-round pick LB Marte Mapu dressed for the game but did not play.

BAILEY ZAPPE MADE THE START

QB Bailey Zappe started the game and played the entire first half and the first drive of the second half, completing 12-of-14 passes (.857) for 79 yards. Zappe played in four games with two starts as rookie in 2022.

TRACE MCSORLEY

QB Trace McSorley entered the game in the third quarter and played into the fourth quarter. He completed his first pass in a Patriots uniform to WR Kayshon Boutte on a 4-yard pass.

MALIK CUNNINGHAM PLAYED AT WIDE RECEIVER AND QUARTERBACK

Rookie free agent QB Malik Cunningham played at wide receiver in the third quarter and then entered the game at quarterback in the fourth quarter. He completed his first NFL pass on a 3-yard pass to WR Thyrick Pitts. Cunningham finished 3-of-4 for 19 yards and had 5 rushing attempts for 34 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He scored 50 rushing touchdowns during his college career at Louisville. Cunningham accounted for 120 total touchdowns during his college career, with 50 rushing touchdowns and 70 touchdown passes.

ANDREW STUEBER MADE HIS NFL DEBUT

2022 seventh-round draft pick OL Andrew Stueber played in his first NFL game after spending his rookie season on the NFI list. He entered the game at left tackle in the second half.

FOLK SCORES FIRST PATRIOTS POINTS OF THE 2023 SEASON

K Nick Folk connected on a 44-yard field goal in the first quarter. Folk enters the 2023 season with 60 straight regular season field goals under 40 yards. His last miss was a 31-yard attempt on Oct. 5, 2017 vs. New England when he played for Tampa Bay. The NFL record is 70, set by Justin Tucker of Baltimore (2016-2020).

THE PATRIOTS USED A ROTATION OF THREE PLAYERS AT PUNT RETURNER

2023 sixth-round draft pick WR Demario Douglas lined up to return punts to start the game. He returned 56 punts for 383 yards with two touchdowns, including a 73-yard touchdown return during his college career at Liberty. Myles Bryant and fellow sixth-round pick WR Kayshon Boutte also lined up to return punts.

ISAIAH BOLDEN LINED UP FOR KICKOFFS IN THE SECOND HALF

DB Isaiah Bolden returned the second half kickoff 26 yards on his first return. Bolden led the nation in kickoff return average with 36.5 yards per return in 2021 at Jackson State.

TYQUAN THORNTON GOES LONG

Tyquan Thornton caught a 27-yard pass from QB Bailey Zappe to convert a third-and-8 situation in the first quarter. His longest reception as a rookie in 2022 was a 29-yard reception from Mac Jones on Jan. 1, 2023 vs. Miami.  

ROOKIE KICKERS SEE ACTION

Both of the 2023 rookie kickers saw their first NFL action. K Chad Ryan (fourth-round pick) handled kickoffs. Two of his three kickoffs went for touchbacks. P Bryce Baringer (sixth round) had a 62-yard punt in the second quarter.

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