7:30- Welcome to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina as the Patriots and Panthers get ready to kickoff preseason game number three. The question everyone is asking is- will Tom Brady get extended playing time tonight. We are going to find out over the next hour or so.
7:43- Not a very good start for Brady and the Patriots as they have a quick three-and-out and give the ball to the Panthers. The punt team added insult to injury by giving up a big return to Ted Ginn Jr., the veteran receiver out of Ohio State.
7:46- The Patriots defense looks stout as they stuff the Panthers on third and fourth and short. Brady and the offense get the ball back quickly and in good field position.
7:48- Ugly. Just flat-out ugly. The Patriots starting offense has looked awful in all three preseason games. There are protection issues, injuries the are crippling the skill positions, and Brady looks a little rusty, similar to the beginning of last season. The main problem is the line; they need to get it together.
7:54- The New England defense came to play tonight, forcing another three-and-out and looking very good in the process. Cornerback Tarell Brown had a nice breakup and the pass rush up the middle was strong on third, forcing Newton to throw the ball away.
7:58- Aaron Dobson gives the ball away to the Panthers defense after a beautiful throw from Brady that would have put the Patriots deep in the red zone. Dobson's act is starting to wear thin, and if he doesn't start making plays and staying healthy, he's going to be another second round wide receiver bust, similar the Chad Jackson.
8:08- The bend-but-don't-break Patriots defense did what they typically do in the red zone- they forced a field goal. If the defense continues to play like this and improve as the season goes on, the loss of Revis isn't going to hurt as bad as some people (me) thought it would be.
8:12- Tom Brady is struggling; the interception was completely his fault this time. The Panthers take over at the 48.
8:15- Great job again by the defense, forcing yet another three-and-out and forcing Cam Newton and the Panthers offense back to the sideline.
8:18- On third-and-two, the Patriots attempted a toss sweep to Brandon Bolden, but to no surprise, he was stopped for a one yard loss. Why run a toss sweep on third and two? Either run it right up the gut or throw; don't get cute.
8:28- The Patriots defense looks good tonight. They allowed a couple chunk plays, but they tightened up and forced the Panthers offense to the sideline again. Cam Newton was sacked by Dominique Easley on second down, a good sign for the Patriots interior pass rush.
8:32- Another questionable series of play-calling from Josh McDaniels. Reggie Wayne also had an ugly drop that would have at least given the offense a more manageable third down. Regardless, running a draw on third and eight against one of the best run defenses is foolish. That's two series in a row with a bad decision on third down.
8:45- The Panthers put together a good drive and had an opportunity to convert on third and three, but a drop caused the Panthers to go for a field goal, which they hit. New England's offense owes the defense a big thank you for this first half. Panthers 6, Patriots 0
8:56- Tom Brady lives the two minute drill, and he also LOVES throwing the ball to his giant tight ends in the red zone. Scott Chandler culminated the drive with a 19-yard touchdown catch on the fade route to the back corner of the end zone. Great throw and catch. Patriots 7, Panthers 6
8:59- That'll do it for the first half. The Panthers had a decent kick return and Cam Newton was going to try and throw to get in field goal range, but Chandler Jones and Trey Flowers converged on him on the backfield and picked up the sack. Great first half for the defense; bad first half for the offense, except for the excellent two-minute drill before the half; awful coverage on special teams. See everyone in the second half.
9:10- Cam Newton and the Panthers offense will open the second half with the ball and try to regain the lead against the tough Patriots defense.
9:19- Carolina put together a strong drive and finished it off with a Mike Tolbert two-yard touchdown catch. Cam Newton looked much better on that drive than any in the first half, main reason being a lack of pass rush. Panthers 13, Patriots 7
9:33- An odd drive finally comes to an end on fourth-and-four as the Patriots turned the ball over on downs. It is a fitting end to a drive that saw the Panthers drop two easy interceptions, one that would have been returned for a touchdown. Jimmy Garoppolo's inconsistent August continues. One surprise- Legarrette Blount running the ball in the third quarter; he ran well.
9:40- Derek Anderson takes over for Cam Newton and goes to work on the Patriots defense. Anderson may not be the best player, but he's found a way to stay in the NFL as a backup because of the flashes he shows, like on the last drive. The Panthers had to settle for another field goal though as the Patriots made yet another red-zone stop.
9:49- Another rough series for the Patriots offense. There is nothing to worry about long-term, but they're just not clicking tonight.
9:54- The theme of the night continues- good defense by New England and they force the Panthers to the sideline. Let's see if Garoppolo can get it together.
9:58- Jimmy Garoppolo quickly leads the offense down the field for a touchdown! Aaron Dobson made a huge play to setup the nine-yard catch by Dion Lewis. New England is now within two. Panthers 16, Patriots 14
10:05- The Patriots defense gets a quick three-and-out and the offense will have a chance to take the lead back. The defensive backs have been excellent tonight, and it was highlighted on the last set of downs.
10:14- James Develin went down with whar appears to be a serious ankle injury, another blow for a team that is dinged up. Garoppolo was able to drive them into field goal position and Gostkowski connected on a 53-yard field goal, a kick that would have been good from 65. Patriots 17, Panthers 16
10:20- Rufus Johnson had a strong series for the Patriots defense and helped force another three-and-out, which has been the story of the game. The Patriots offense has had their struggles tonight, but they've made plays when they had too. With just three minutes to go, New England will try to pick up a couple first downs and put this game away.
10:29- The Patriots pickup the two first downs they need and they'll take a knee to bring this game to an end. Another comeback win on the road for the Patriots, which may not count in the standings, but it does help them build confidence.
FINAL SCORE: Patriots 17, Panthers 16
Thanks for joining us tonight as we reacted and dissected what was happening on the field. Join us next Thursday as the Patriots wrap up the preseason at home against the New York Giants.
Follow me @chris_simoneau