]()New England dropped its final preseason event 27-3 in what could loosely be called a game.
More than a team game, this was a final chance for individuals to get some reps on film, show that they could fulfill an assignment despite what was going on around them and maybe land themselves a job in New England or somewhere else.
An early indicator that many, if not most, of the starters would not be playing was the fact that the Patriots didn't even bother to issue the usual pre-game scratch list.
When the list did come well after kickoff, the names of non-players was as long as those who were to play.
Thirty-two players -- all the most well-known of the current team and potential starters -- sat out. Several of them like Brady, Dillon, Koppen and Samuel, weren't even to be found on the sideline. That left Doug Flutie as the starting quarterback behind a line of, left to right, Nick Kaczur, Gene Mruczkowski, Russ Hochstein, Billy Yates and Victor Leyva. Jed Weaver and Joel Jacobs were the tight ends with David Terrell out wide. Patrick Pass was in the backfield.
On defense, the two ends were Rodney Bailey and Marquise Hill. At nose was Mike Wright. The four linebackers were Tully Banta-Cain and Matt Chatham on the outside and Eric Alexander and Don Davis on the inside. Randall Gay and Chad Scott were the corners while James Sanders and Guss Scott manned the safety positions.
]()A notable returner to action was Bethel Johnson, just off the physically unable to perform list.
Not that stats really mattered in this one, but the Patriots quarterback numbers were as follows: Doug Flutie, 8 of 13 passing for 69 yards and an interception; Matt Cassell, 6 of 21 passing, 45 yards and an interception. Cassell was also sacked three times.
It only took the Giants 1:48 to score three points off a 48-yard Jay Feely field goal. Willie Ponder took the opening kickoff 48 yards to the 48 yard line and then Tiki Barber knocked off 23 yards on two consecutive runs to set up
Tim Hasselback started at quarterback for the injured Eli Manning who was nursing a sore elbow.
New York added another three to its lead later in the first quarter on a 48-yarder by Feely. With the Patriots second and third stringers manning the defense, the Giants first-teamers were able to keep the ball for chunks of time but, to the credit of those Patriots, weren't able to get into the end zone.
By the start of the second quarter, the Giants had inserted their second team defense as well. Flutie was taking advantage, engineering a drive that started on his own 33. Consecutive completions to Jed Weaver for 13, David Terrell for 9 and P.K. Sam for 12 moved the ball to the Giants 27. But on second and 8 from the 12, Flutie threw under diress for Andre Davis in the back of the end zone. The ball floated and was picked off by New York's Shaun Williams.
The first half ended with the score 6-0.
Cassel opened up the second half at quarterback and immediately got his team on the board with a 17-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal. New England showed good ball control during the 7:14 drive while both Kyle Eckel (3 carries for 15 yards) and Kory Chapman (5 for 21) ran well.
As a passer, Cassel was not having a strong night and when he was sacked and fumbled later in the third quarter, the Giants converted the turnover into the first touchdown of the night, a 26-yard pass from Jared Lorenzen to Jamaar Taylor.
Right after Lorenzen was picked off by Gay, still in the third quarter, Cassel returned the favor by looking to Sam but hitting the Giants T.J. Hollowell in the numbers. Hollowell took the interception 22 yards for the score and a 20-3 New York lead.
Taylor came up big for the Giants again, this time in the fourth quarter. New York's third quarterback of the night, Jesse Palmer put up a beautiful ball over Taylor's left shoulder with Ellis Hobbs in coverage. The play went 46 yards down to the Patriots 1-yard line. Brandon Jacobs ran it in from there for a 27-3 lead.
That ended the scoring on the night while the game mercifully ended on a series of Cassel kneel downs.