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New England Patriots 3rd Preseason Game Final Recap

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The New England Patriots came back for the second straight game and scored 10 unanswered points to defeat the Carolina Panthers 17-16 tonight, in Carolina.

To see what happened in the first half, click here.

Defensive Backs Step Up- One of the bigger question marks this preseason has been how will the New England secondary work out after having to replace key guys from last year. Tonight’s game showed that there might not be as much of a cause for concern as many people think there should be. In the first half, potential starter Tarell Brown broke up a couple of passes including a potential touch down. In the second half, youngster Daxton Swanson contributed with a few key pass deflections as he battles for a role on the final 53-man roster and veteran Logan Ryan added a couple of nice plays as well. Finally, second round pick Jordan Richards looked good throughout the game, playing physically around the line and making five tackles including one for a loss of yards.

Rufus Johnson Makes Presence Felt- Patriots rookie defensive lineman Rufus Johnson has gained some recognition this preseason and tonight’s performance was a strong example as to why that is. Johnson spent most of the second half having his way with the offensive tackles of the Panthers as he reached the quarterback a number of times. He was unable to come up with any sacks but on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter he hurried Panthers backup Joe Webb and blew up plays in the back field. He’s a guy with a high motor who could prove to be an important piece going forward as the team looks to build a formidable pass rush.

Garoppolo Takes Slight Step Back, Still Plays Well- After looking very strong in last week’s win over New Orleans, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took a bit of a step back tonight. Just after coming into the game to start the second half, Garoppolo threw a couple of passes that could have been troublesome against better coverage. He got away with those couple mistakes but for the most part he had another quality outing and led the team to another come from behind win. He finished the night with 13-17 for 126 yards and one touchdown.

 Aaron Dobson Makes A Few Plays- After struggling a bit in the first half and having a pass wrestled away from him for an interception, third-year wide receiver Aaron Dobson stepped up with a couple big catches in the second half, as the Patriots battled back from a 16-7 deficit. He finished the night with two catches for 51 yards including one 40-yard snag that set up New England’s second touchdown.

Reggie Wayne Plays, Stays Quiet- Newly acquired receiver Reggie Wayne did suit up and play a bit tonight but it was easy to see he’s still getting used to his new team. On one play he appeared to run the wrong rout and on another he dropped a pass from Brady. He should surely be better as time goes on and he gets more time with Brady and company.

Develin Goes Down- Fullback James Develin, who is a key member of the special teams unit and an important part of New England’s backfield came up lame after a catch and run for a first down late in the fourth. He wqas helped onto a cart and driven off the field which is not a promising sight. His role, while not large, is extremely important and should not go over looked. Hopefully it is nothing worse than a sprain, though it did not look good.

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