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Quick hits from a Patriots’ win

08.12.10 at 10:29 pm ET

The Patriots and Saints just wrapped up their first preseason contest, with the Pats coming away 27-24 winners on Thursday night in Foxboro thanks to a 28-yard field goal with 53 seconds remaining. Laurence Maroney had a pair of touchdowns and Devin McCourty had two returns of over 50 yards, but it was perhaps Julian Edelman that was most impressive. Here are some quick observations in a game that featured zero interceptions from six quarterbacks:


– There was a lot to like about Julian Edelman in the Pats’ first preseason game and it would be hard not to give him player of the game honors. His numbers (six receptions for 90 yards and a 21.5 yard average on two punt returns) looked good, but seeing was believing with Edelman, who displayed the shiftiness that made him a fan favorite in his rookie year.

While Saints punter Thomas Morstead was hurt on Edelman’s first notable play, the second-year receiver nearly broke Jabari Greer’s ankles in the very same quarter on a screen pass. Edelman made the catch and promptly juked the cornerback out of his cleats before taking off for a 21 yard gain.

As good as he looked with the rest of the starters out there with him, Edelman’s big night didn’t just consist of the first quarter. The former quarterback had a 14 yard gain on a crossing pattern with Brian Hoyer under center in the second quarter and just plays later picked up 25 more.

– The  right side of the offensive line looked solid for the Patriots, especially on their first touchdown. BenJarvus Green-Ellis‘ score in the first quarter was a great example of that. The right side opened up beautifully and with Dan Connolly as the lead blocker, Green-Ellis went in untouched. Jonathan Vilma, who looked a bit suspect at times during joint practices, took the brunt of Connolly’s fury.

Brandon Spikes looked very good stopping the run, but everyone knew he could do that coming in. He impressed where many doubted him in the pre-draft process. Spikes’ biggest question throughout camp was how he could handle route-runners over the middle. After a camp in which he had occasional struggles in coverage, he looked good when he had to go up against Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, who is one of the tougher guys at his position in the league to cover.

Terrence Wheatley did a great job of reading a rollout from Saints quarterback Chase Daniel late in the game on third down when New Orleans had the chance to take the lead. Wheatley quickly diagnosed the play and came out of coverage, leaving Adrian Arrington unattended as the third-year corner took down Daniel. The Saints had to settle for a game-tying field goal as a result. Wheatley nearly also had a fumble recovery on a Larry Beavers punt return earlier in the quarter.

Brandon Tate made a nice 20-yard reception along the sidelines in the first quarter. The second-year receiver did a good job of bringing in the ball while dragging his left foot.


– The special teams play was good as far as returns went for the Patriots, but they didn’t do such a great job stopping the Saints. After Devin McCourty’s 52-year kick return to open the second half put the Pats in good enough scoring position to set up Maroney’s second touchdown, they let up the biggest special teams play of the night. Beavers, whose short time with the Panthers last season got him nowhere, had a 97 yard kick return for a touchdown in the third quarter. The play should have been over before it really took off, as Darnell Jenkins had Beavers all but wrapped up between the 20 and 21 yard lines but let him escape his grasp, allowing Beavers to take it the distance.

– Zac Robinson should have had a lost fumble on just his third play of the day but was let off the hook when the Saints were called for illegal hands to the face. The seventh-round pick looked quite dreadful with his throws in training camp but it’s hard to gauge in camp just how they will do with dropping the ball under pressure.

The good of the night for Robinson was that Darnell Jenkins turned a screen from Robinson late in the fourth quarter into a 52-yard play. This allowed the team to milk the clock until bringing in Gostkowski for the game-winner. Robinson went 3-of-8 for 48 yards on the day.

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