FOXBORO — As preseason finales go, Thursday’s 31-29 Patriots loss to the Giants was long, arduous and sometimes painful. The Giants won the game on a Kyle Lauletta touchdown pass as time expired, capping a comeback from a 29-10 halftime deficit.
But the 3 hour, 36-minute contest that denied the Patriots an unbeaten in the preseason for just the second time in the Bill Belichick era didn’t come without a significant scare. Julian Edelman appeared to quickly tweak the same left thumb he broke in the summer, an injury that landed him on the NFI injury list to start training camp.
The play came on New England’s first drive of the game, after he was dragged to the ground by Giants defensive back Julian Love.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) August 29, 2019
After making the catch for the 19-yard completion, the ball came out of Edelman’s hands when he hit the ground but the play was whistled dead and the completion stood. But the bigger concern was when Edelman got up and jogged to the sideline. He immediately took off his left glove and winced as he exposed the thumb, which had black support tape around the base of the thumb.
It was Edelman’s first game action after dressing up but not playing last week against Carolina. He was immediately seen by trainer Jim Whelan and appeared to be in no serious pain on the bench next to the Patriots offensive starters. He spent the rest of the game on the sidelines, watching without his helmet and catching gloves but appeared loose while enjoying the company of his teammates.
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There was plenty of speculation leading up to kickoff that three veteran Patriots receivers -Edelman, Demaryius Thomas and Josh Gordon – would see their first preseason action before the regular season opener on Sept. 8 at Gillette Stadium against the Steelers.
All three would see significant time on the first drive while Thomas and Gordon remained in the game for the remainder of the first half after Edelman left with the injury.
Thomas made the most of his opportunity, catching a pair of touchdown passes from Jarrett Stidham, one a perfectly thrown 35-yard dart down the right sideline one play after Gordon drew a 35-yard defensive pass interference call.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 30, 2019
The second came when Stidham rolled out of the pocket to his left, drawing two Giants defenders close to the goal line. Thomas floated free in back of the end zone and Stidham lobbed the pass for the 3-yard score, giving the Patriots a 16-10 lead in the second quarter. The Patriots built their lead to 29-10 at the half thanks to a touchdown run from Nick Brossette and a 51-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
Thomas finished with seven catches on eight targets for 87 yards against mainly Giants third-stringers while Gordon had two catches on six targets for 30 yards. Rookie N’Keal Harry dressed but did not see the field.
Stidham played the entire game, going 18-of-28 for 225 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Brian Hoyer did not see the field at all for a second straight week. Tom Brady, who played in just one preseason game this year, led a list of regulars who did not play at all in the preseason finale. Others not on the field included every projected starter on defense. Rookie Joejuan Williams, a projected corner, did get some reps at safety.
The Patriots finished 3-1 in the preseason and now get ready to raise their sixth Super Bowl banner on Sunday night, Sept. 8 in the season opener at Gillette against the Steelers.