FIRST OVERALL PICK
Tonight's game began in the exact same manner as last week's preseason opener - with an interception on the first play from scrimmage. Last week, Asante Samuel intercepted Cincinnati's Carson Palmer on the game's first play. This week, the Patriots weren't so fortunate, as Tom Brady was intercepted by New Orleans' Dwight Smith on the first play from scrimmage. It has been rare for Brady to throw interceptions at Gillette Stadium, as he has been picked off just six times in the 19 regular season and playoff games in Foxborough since the beginning of the 2003 season. In the 29 overall games he has played at Gillette Stadium, Brady has thrown 39 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.
TIM DWIGHT: GOING DEEP
Tom Brady connected with Tim Dwight on a 45-yard bomb in the first quarter, marking Dwight's first reception of the preseason. Dwight was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on March 13, 2005, and has a long history of long plays, often resulting in touchdowns. He has recorded seven career touchdown plays of more than 50 yards and five touchdowns of more than 70 yards. The long scores have come via receptions (52 yards, 60 yards), punt returns (70, 70, 84) and kickoff returns (87, 93). The eighth-year veteran enters the 2005 campaign as the only active NFL player to have scored multiple touchdowns in each of the following four categories: receiving (14), rushing (3), punt returns (3) and kickoff returns (2).
Rodney Harrison notched a game-high 10 tackles tonight and picked off an Aaron Brooks pass in the second quarter after the ball bounced off of Chad Scott's arm. The interception set up a first-and-goal from the 3-yard line, setting the stage for a 3-yard touchdown run by Kyle Eckel on the next play, giving the Patriots a 17-10 lead. Harrison is the only player in NFL history to have recorded at least 25 sacks and at least 30 interceptions in his career and has recorded more tackles than any other NFL player in the last 10 years (1,013 stops). In his Patriots career, Harrison has recorded five interceptions in 32 regular season games and six interceptions in just six playoff games (including two picks in Super Bowl XXXIX).
PASS CATCHING ON
Patrick Pass recorded 11 rushes for 88 yards tonight. He put the Patriots on the scoreboard with a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. In the third quarter, he tore off a 49-yard run, which by far tops his career-long 19-yard run from last season. In 2004, Pass turned in the most productive statistical season of his 5-year career, setting personal bests in rushes (39), rushing yards (141), receptions (28) and receiving yards (215). Pass led all Patriots running backs last season with 28 receptions. The University of Georgia product has one regular-season touchdown to his credit, a 23-yard scoring reception on Dec. 22, 2001 against the Miami Dolphins.
HAPPY RETURN FOR FLUTIE
Doug Flutie quickly made his preseason return to the Patriots a memorable one, connecting on two quick passes, a 12-yard toss to Tim Dwight and then on the very next play, a 29-yard touchdown toss to Jason Anderson. Flutie's last appearance in Foxborough as a Patriot was more than 15-and-a-half years ago, on Dec. 3, 1989 in a game against the Houston Oilers at Foxboro Stadium. The last time the former Heisman Trophy winner from Boston College threw a touchdown pass in Foxborough while wearing a Patriots uniform was on Nov. 6, 1988 - nearly 17 years ago.
CARRYING THE LOAD
The Patriots running backs had a solid evening, tallying 22 carries for 138 yards (6.3 avg.) and two touchdowns. Patrick Pass led the way with 11 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown, while Kory Chapman (4-24), Kevin Faulk (4-19) and Kyle Eckel (3-7, 1 TD) also contributed. Last season, the Patriots averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry for the first time since the 1985 season.
- Rodney Harrison nailed Saints tight end Ernie Conwell to break up a pass on second down with New Orleans at their own 11-yard line.
- Rosevelt Colvin and Richard Seymour teamed up to drop Deuce McAllister for no gain in the first quarter.
- The Patriots pinned the Saints at their own 3-yard line in the second quarter when a 41-yard punt from Josh Miller was downed by Larry Izzo.
- Wesly Mallard and Grant Steen combined to sack Todd Bouman for a 6-yard loss in the fourth quarter. TALLYING TOUCHDOWNS
Undrafted rookie fullback Kyle Eckel scored a touchdown for the second consecutive week, giving the Patriots a 17-10 lead in the second quarter. Last week in Cincinnati, Eckel notched a 4-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. As of halftime tonight, Eckel had notched two touchdowns on four rushes this preseason. Eckel attended the U.S. Naval Academy, where he recorded 13 career 100-yard games, the fourth most in school history.
Rookie wide receiver Jason Anderson scored a touchdown on a nice play for the second consecutive week. Tonight, Anderson acrobatically hauled in a 29-yard pass from Doug Flutie to give the Patriots a 24-13 second-quarter lead. Last week in Cincinnati, Anderson grabbed a Matt Cassel pass and made a nifty move to scamper into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.
Third-round draft pick Ellis Hobbs, the second player selected by the Patriots in the 2005 NFL Draft, returned a kickoff 53 yards in the second quarter, setting up a Patriots scoring drive punctuated by a 29-yard touchdown toss from Doug Flutie to Jason Anderson. He also dropped Aaron Brooks for a 14-yard sack. Hobbs returned 24 kicks in his four seasons at Iowa State (with a long of 41 yards).
The following veterans made their Foxborough debuts in Patriots uniforms tonight: CB Chad Scott, S Antuan Edwards, LB Monty Beisel, LB Chad Brown, LB Wesly Mallard, WR Tim Dwight and DL Rodney Bailey.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS CHARITABLE FOUNDATION
As a part of the NFL's Play Football Month, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation welcomed 1,500 football players and coaches from 18 different Massachusetts high schools to tonight's game. The schools were invited after their players served as volunteers at the local Punt, Pass and Kick competitions held during 2005 Patriots Training Camp.
THE LIGHT FOUNDATION
Matt Light welcomed six teenagers to Gillette Stadium for his "Patriots Experience" event sponsored by the Light Foundation. Each of the six kids, four from his home state of Ohio and two from Roxbury, Mass., were selected based on good grades and community service work. The four children from Ohio were flown in for the game before meeting up with the remaining two winners for pre-game field access, where they watched Matt and the Patriots warm up. They then took in the game from the stands and were expecting to meet with Matt after the game.
DL Richard Seymour(Asked if having the mobile Doug Flutie in practice helped them prepare for Aaron Brooks) Doug definitely has the ability to scramble and move around, but we didn't do a good job with it (controlling Brooks) here tonight.
WR Jason Anderson - (On his TD and performance thus far) It was supposed to be a comeback (route) but converted to a streak (route). I didn't know what Doug was going to do but he ended up throwing it deep so I just kept on running. I made the catch. I am still trying to learn the system. I make mistakes out there so I need to go back and study my playbook some more. I have to try to strive for a perfect game. There is a lot of learning. I just want to play. Whatever I can do to help.
CB Ellis Hobbs - (On his performance) To sit and here and say a positive reaction to that, I would be lying to myself. I made mistakes out there. I gave up a big play on a touchdown. I hit the ball but the bottom line was he caught it. The coaches keep coaching me and I can't do anything but learn from it. They (the coaches) told me I can't be doing that and I live and die out there. One minute something good is happening, the next minute something bad. They are doing a great job coaching me up. When I got here, my job was to make the team and I am still trying to do that. I am just trying to go out there and make plays.
RB Kyle Eckel – (On his TD) The fullback lead the way, the O-Line got a great push, I just put my head down and got in. It was as basic as you can get. It was pretty much set so that I had better get in.
DE Marquise Hill - (On his fumble recovery) Just another play out there. You can't glorify a good play when you lose. I just saw the ball on the ground and did what anyone would do. Go to the ball and pick it up.
QB Doug Flutie – (On his enthusiasm) I was excited to get out on the field and play. It is fun for me to get with the young guys and see the look in their eyes. That is part of where the enthusiasm comes from. I still enjoy playing.
(On the team getting into the end zone with him at quarterback, here in Foxborough, for the first time in several years) A one play drive from the 4-yard line. That was cool. We wanted to get into the two-minute mode but we got the ball across mid-field and we went ahead and sort of went into that mode anyway. It was nice to make a couple of plays but within this office, I still have a long way to go.
LB Rosevelt Colvin – (on the game) I feel like we have a lot of room for improvement, some things decent, and a lot of things not so decent. We need to take a look at the film and try and work out the things we didn't do so well. You always have that time period where you have to acclimate yourself to the new environment and new players. If everybody can get their job done, it will make the person's job next to you a lot easier.
(On Hobbs and the defense) Typical rookie, does good things and does bad things. Not just Ellis (Hobbs), not just the rookies, as a team we do things well and we do things bad, it results in a loss. We need to go and practice and continue to work hard, try to do the things you can to get better.
S Rodney Harrison – (On the game) We need to improve in a lot of areas, and we are going to work very hard to do that. Obviously we didn't execute the way we normally execute and we just have a lot of work to do. I am not here to evaluate anyone's performance, we will see on the film what happened, we lost and that's the only thing I care about.
WR Troy Brown – (On the Receivers) Like everyone has seen tonight, we got a long way to go to be a good football team. As receivers, you always want to catch passes, the more you throw it the more we are happy. I am just happy to be out there with us moving the ball and be successful, and convert third downs and put the ball in the end zone. That is when I am most happy; I don't care how we do it just as long we put some points on the board. We got a lot of work to do to get to that level.
WR Tim Dwight – (On the Receivers) It's a job we got to fight for, I think that I am coming in here and I need to work as hard as everybody else. The nice thing is this group, the receivers, we all work extremely hard and I think that raises our level and obviously they have got a level here that I want to compete at. They are good here and it helps me try and get up there.
I knew once I got out there that I was going to try and compete as hard I could, cause it has gotten this far this is my eighth year. I have never come on to a team that has done the type of things that this team has in the last couple of years.