Patriots - Giants: Game Balls & Goats

Hedgecock tackled by Fernando Bryant (AP)

New England 14, New York Giants 19. That's really all you need to know, but we strive ot give you more. Who performed well and who didn't? Check out the Game Balls & Goats from Thursday night's preseason finale.

The Giants handed the Patriots their fourth loss of the preseason as the New England first team offense failed to generate a touchdown. Both Patriots quarterbacks named Matt (Gutierrez and Cassel) struggled against a stout Giants defense devoid of its top two defensive linemen, Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan. Final: New England 14, New York 19.

The performances of the players in the preseason finale will be part f the material used by the team's front office to evaluate which players belong on the team and which ones will be looking for new homes after Saturday's roster cuts. PI takes a look at the performances from Thursday night to award game balls (good things) and goats (bad things).

GAME BALLS:

Kevin O'Connell - the Patriots rookie quarterback was the only one to generate any offense. Sure it was against the bottom end of New York's roster in the fourth quarter, but O'Connell led the Patriots to a pair of touchdowns while his counterparts were unable to generate any points. If the defense didn't let him down, O'Connell could have had another opportunity at the end to win the game.

Chad Jackson - After tripping over his own feet to allow an interception just prior to the end of the first half, Jackson made up for the mistake in the second half. He caught a pair of receptions for 32 yards, one that was a fade route into the corner of the endzone where Jackson had to catch the ball over his shoulder while getting both feet in bounds. It was Jackson's second fourth-quarter touchdown in as many games.

Kenny Smith - Patriots defensive lineman Kenny Smith came up big for the Patriots defense at points in the second half as the former starting defensive lineman played with the rookies and third string players. He submarined the blockers in front of him to cause runs for losses. Smith was part of a pair of tackles on a crucial goal line stand. The Giants had a first and goal at the Patriots 2 yard line. Smith slammed into the line to stuff Danny Ware for no gain. After an incomplete pass, Ware rushed again, only to be met by Smith and John Lynch for a one-yard loss.

Honorable mention:
C.J. Jones - Two long returns by Jones put the Patriots in position to score in the fourth quarter. The first was a 44-yard kickoff return, which setup New England's first score. Though he fumbled on the play, Patriots safety Mark Dillard was there to recover the ball. Jones then ran back a punt 42 yards to the Giants 18 to set up New England's second score.

Gary Guyton - 10 tackles on the night. Guyton flowed to the action most of the night, routinely tracking down plays from the backside. His 10 tackles led all defenders on the night.

Giants Defense -- Credit to the Giants first and second-string defense for shutting down the Patriots most of the game.

David Carr -- The former first round pick looked like one. He finished the night going 20/29 for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns.

GOATS:

Patriots First Team Offense - This unit was unable to generate a single touchdown all preseason. This does not bode well for the Patriots if Tom Brady misses time under center this season. Lack of running lanes, and questionable pass protection were the issues.

Wesley Britt - The big offensive tackle struggled against the speed rush while filling in at left tackle for Matt Light. Britt gave up another sack Thursday night, and continues to have a tough time on the left side of the line.

Fernando Bryant - Bryant has struggled at points in the preseason, and the consistency in his performance raises questions. After flying up from his coverage to take the legs out of Madison Hedgecock on the Giants 6th play from scrimmage, Bryant used a ticky-tacky tackling method to try to slow down Darcy Johnson on a short pass along the sideline. Johnson carried Bryant into the end zone as he rolled over the Patriots defender for the score.

Dishonorable Mentions:
Jeff Shoate - The former Giants cornerback played too far off the ball, allowing the Giants to convert three crucial first downs, including the one on the Giant's final possession that enabled them to run out the clock.

Eric Alexander - He made just two tackles on defense, while getting caught up in traffic on a number of Giants runs. On another play he took a bad angle to the tackler who cut back inside him for a long gain, Alexander's move prevented teammate Victor Hobson from making the play.

Laurence Maroney - Four rushing attempts for 5 yards. Not a good outing by any stretch of the imagination.

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