Welcome to Foxboro as the Patriots and Saints are now just five minutes from kickoff. The 2016 season is going to be an interesting one for the Patriots with Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games, but Jimmy Garoppolo was a second round pick for a reason, and the team has the confidence in him to handle the load. Tonight Garoppolo starts and Patriots fans get a glimpse of what the first month will look like. OK, time to play some football!
15:00- The Saints will receive the kickoff and we get our first look at Drew Brees in 2016.
14:55- Drew Brees hits Brandin Cooks and the Saints setup at the Patriots 38. Great throw and catch.
14:00- A promising drive for the Saints goes up in smoke as the Patriots defense forces the fumble. Jabaal Sheard forced the fumble and rookie Cyrus Jones recovered the fumble.
12:10- Ugly series for Garoppolo and the Patriots, but Nate Solder didn't help by giving up the edge on third down. Garoppolo will get it together, it's just jitters.
12:00- Touchdown, Patriots! Patrick Chung stepped up, forced the deflection and Jamie Collins did the rest with the 41 yard interception return for a touchdown. The Patriots decided to go for two, and James White took the handoff off a draw and punched it in. Patriots 8, Saints 0
11:49- It's plays like that where Dont'a Hightower shows how talented he is, and he keeps getting better. New England needs to get his contract done asap.
10:35- Coby Fleener with a nice catch on third down to extend the Saints drive.
10:10- The run defense looks excellent, and this is only the first quarter of the first preseason game. When they gel, they are going to be scary good. This defense has a chance to be special.
9:01- The Pats defense forces the three-and-out and Jimmy G. will get another chance to get the offense rolling. He isn't going to have the starters for long, so it is crucial that he gets into rhythm sooner than later.
8:11- Another UGLY series for Garoppolo. Horrible throw on third down, and he just doesn't look comfortable yet. The punt coverage team added insult to injury by allowing the Saints to return the ball to New England's 15-yard line.
6:14- It wasn't conclusive, but the refs award the short touchdown run to the Saints. Wouldn't it be a good idea to put a chip in the ball when it goes over the goal line? Nah, the league can't afford that. The Saints also went for two and converted. Patriots 8, Saints 8
6:01- The first positive play of the game- Martellus Bennett with a catch and 12 yard gain. Let's see if Jimmy G can get rolling now.
4:50- Garoppolo to Bennett again for 15 yards and the offense is starting to make some plays. The offensive line is awful tonight, not a good sign.
4:00- And as soon as I say the line is terrible, they give up a sack on a jail break pass rush. This is going to be a process getting this line back to where it was.
3:05- On 3rd & 14, Garoppolo throws the checkdown to James White, but the throw was off the mark (bad communication between qb and rb) and the Patriots are forced to punt again.
:39- The Patriots are challenging a called-catch, but it's a tough one to call. In the situation where it is too close to call, they would award the catch to the Saints.
:39- The challenge fails, but the call was wrong from New York. It ABSOLUTELY was NOT a catch, but the Patriots don't get calls in their favor, so this should be expected.
:00- That's the end of the first quarter with the score tied 8-8. New England's offense looked terrible overall, minus the two catches by Martellus Bennett. The protection needs to improve and Garoppolo needs to get on the same page as his receivers and backs.
Patriots 8, Saints 8
14:22- Touchdown, Saints. Mark Ingram leaps over the line and crosses the plain to give the Saints the lead. The non-catch now leads to a touchdown, which isn't a problem during the preseason, but the NFL needs to clean up their act when the regular season rolls around. The Saints ran a jet sweep, a favorite of the Patriots, to pick up another two-point conversion and extend their lead to eight. Saints 16, Patriots 8
14:12- Aaron Dobson makes the catch and picks up 12 yards on first down; that may have been the cleanest looking play of the night.
13:45- Nice run by LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots running game finally shows life.
13:00- A beautifully designed screen pass to James White goes for 56 yards, moving the Patriots down to the one, and LeGarrette Blount does the rest, taking it in from the one. James White was stuffed on the two-point conversion, so the Saints maintain the lead. Saints 16, Patriots 14
12:50- Strong pass rush from the Patriots defense on first down. They are getting great pressure against the pass and penetration to stop the run.
12:30- As soon as I say that, the Saints rip off a 12-yard sweep (check that, holding, it's coming back.)
11:42- The Saints attempted a bubble screen on 3rd and 23, but Chris Long showed his athleticism and made the tackle after a short gain. Long is a talented athlete and has a chance to make an impact for New England this season, especially with Ninkovich out until possibly October.
11:28- Garoppolo is starting to look confident as he hits Aaron Dobson for a gain of eight.
10:15- Blount picks up a first down on 3rd and short, something that was an issue in 2015.
8:30- Malcolm Mitchell (I love him as a player) makes the catch on 3rd and 11, picks up eight yards, and then Garoppolo runs for the first down on 4th and 3. This offense looks MUCH better.
7:08- Malcolm Mitchell again! Mitchell picks up 20, and Garoppolo is starting to get hot. It's clear that confidence is the issue when he struggles, and when he gains it consistently, he has a chance to be good.
5:55- Bad throw by Garoppolo almost cost the Patriots a field goal attempt; when you are rolling out, NEVER throw against your body. This isn't high school (it wouldn't work at that level either.) Gostkowski kicks the field goal and the Patriots jump back on top. Patriots 17, Saints 16
5:47- Jordan Richards has been awesome on kickoff tonight, making plays every time they kick it. Richards is in a battle for a roster spot, so his special teams prowess might set him apart.
5:30- The run defense stomps the Saints line again; this defense looks GOOD.
4:26- Chris Long with the excellent pass rush, forcing a hold, but an illegal hands to the face nullified his great play and we'll replay 3rd down.
4:19- Impressive catch by rookie Michael Thomas gives the Saints a first down at the New England 45. Thomas, who played for Ohio State, could make this offense that much more dynamic. Between him and Cooks, they have a talented, young duo.
3:50- Flag central in Foxboro right now; four straight plays with a penalty. Yuck.
3:33- The Saints try the screen on 3rd and 25, but the defense sniffed it out and made a quick stop to get the ball back to the offense. Chris Long has been excellent; he looks like he's playing with more of an edge, which tends to happen when you leave a doormat to play for a contender.
2:41- Malcolm Mitchell with another nice play, making the catch and strong move to pick up 15. Mitchell, who was a 4th Round pick, is a lock to make this roster because of plays like the last one. He has 1st round talent, but he dealt with injuries that hurt his stock. The Patriots, who have struggled drafting receivers, appear to have got it right with the former Georgia Bulldog.
1:55- OK, I'm just going to stop talking because Malcolm Mitchell just suffered a horrible elbow injury. I hate to speculate, but that was dislocated or broken and he may be done for 2016. Huge blow to the Patriots, and just heartbreaking to see a kid like Mitchell go down. I'm literally sick to my stomach.
:50- For a big back, Blount dances a little too much. He needs to hit the hole, and if it isn't there, try to slam it through on 3rd and 1. James White appeared to make the catch on 4th down, but the linebacker from the Saints ripped it out and kept the Patriots out of the end zone. Great throw by Garoppolo. I'm still sick about Malcolm Mitchell.
:00- That'll do it for the first half; the Patriots lead the Saints 17-16.
15:00- The Patriots receive to start the second half, and we expect to see a slew of substitutions. Jacoby Brissett, the 2016 3rd Round pick, checks in for Garoppolo.
14:20- Brissett hits DeAndre Carter with his first NFL throw, a good start for the talented rookie. Carter has also opened eyes at camp, and this half of football could be HUGE for his future, especially with Mitchell possibly being out for awhile.
12:57- After hitting his first throw, Jacoby Brissett struggled, almost throwing interceptions on two straight plays and showing why the Patriots may need to consider bringing in a veteran backup for the first month of the season. Brissett is NOT ready to play in a regular season game.
9:30- The Saints pick up another 1st down and are driving quickly. Kamu Grugier-Hill is getting a chance at mike linebacker, and he doesn't look overwhelmed in the slightest.
8:23- The Saints pickup another first down and are now at the Patriots eight yard line. Luke McCown is having a good drive.
8:15- Interception, Patriots! Cre'von LeBlanc with an incredible pick to prevent the Saints from scoring. Making plays like that will get you noticed by the coaching staff. Wow, what a play.
7:30- AJ Derby with the 24 yard reception and the Patriots are already at the Saints 44 yard line. Great thrown and catch; Derby looks like a player.
6:24- Touchdown, Patriots! Tyler Gaffney takes the handoff, cuts back right, and takes it 44 yards for the touchdown. The Patriots really like Gaffney, a guy who has battled back from a slew of injuries to get where he is today. Gaffney was a stud running back for Stanford and has the size and speed to be an excellent NFL running back.
5:14- Jonathan Jones with the pass breakup and the Patriots defense forces a three-and-out. Geneo Grissom blew up the play with an excellent middle pass rush. Jacoby Brissett ans the offense gets a chance to push the lead to double figures. New Orleans interfered on the punt return and the Patriots will take over at their own 41.
4:48- New England was called for a false start on first down, and they couldn't recover, being forced into a three-and-out. Let's see if the Saints offense can get rolling against this deep Patriots defense.
1:42- The Saints are moving the ball again, but the defense is preventing big plays and keeping them from picking up "chunk plays".
:00- That's the end of three from Foxboro; the Patriots lead the Saints, 24-16.
14:29- The Saints are at the Patriots 12 with a chance to tie or at least cut the lead to five.
13:39- Good patience by Luke McCown and the Saints pickup the much needed touchdown. New Orleans went for two, but it was well-defended by the Patriots and they maintain the lead. Patriots 24, Saints 22
12:35- Three-and-out for the Patriots offense. The offensive line needs to get a better push in the running game, regardless if they're backups or not. If New England can't run the ball in 2016, they're going to suffer the same fate as 2015.
11:38- First down for the Saints, and their offense is starting to get into rhythm.
10:26- Touchdown, Patriots! Trey Flowers with a great play, making the strip-sack, recovering the fumble, and running 16 yards for the touchdown. Flowers has had a strong camp and is going to push for playing time in 2016. Patriots 31, Saints 22
10:19- 11 yard gain for the Saints, who need to put together a scoring drive here to have a chance to win.
5:12- Kai Forbath attempted a 50 yard field goal, but it hooked left and the score remains the same. The Patriots offense will take over.
3:29- Gostkowski with the field goal to up the lead to 12. Assuming the defense can finish the job, it appears New England is going to start 2016 with a win. Patriots 34, Saints 22
3:15- One thing that stands out in with this Patriots defense- the physicality. They are hammering the Saints tonight, from the starters all the way down. This group is loaded and going to be difficult to thin out when cuts come up. The Patriots force another punt and take over at their own 29.
:00- That'll do it from Foxboro as the Patriots win their preseason opener, 34-22.
FINAL SCORE- PATRIOTS 34, SAINTS 22
Thanks for joining us tonight and be sure to join us next Thursday when the Patriots host the Chicago Bears.
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