Game Balls & Goats: Patriots - Falcons

Weems spins from Ninkovich

The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 28-10 on Thursday night's preseason matchup. Some things went well, while others did not. Patriots Insider hands out our Game Balls and Goats for this second preseason contest.

GAME BALLS AND GOATS
The New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 28-10 in the team's second preseason contest.
Who did well and who didn't in Thursday night's game against the Falcons.

Each week we review the game and hand out our accolades (Game Balls) and our criticisms (Goats). In the Patriots second preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, there were both positives and negatives for the participants.

GAME BALLS

1) Aaron Hernandez – Hernandez did all that was asked of him in the Patriots offense, blocking notwithstanding. Finishing with 4 catches for 48 yards and 1 TD, Hernandez's impact can be measured in more than stats. He made enough of impression that defensive coordinators now have to find him in their game plans.

2) Fred Taylor – Despite his age, Fred Taylor performed well against the Falcons' first team defense. His most notable play was when he took the ball upfield to one side, then bounced off a tackle and took it to the house on the left side outrunning defenders to the cone. 11 carries for 54 yards (4.9 avg.) and a TD were his final stats.

3) Wes Welker – It's less than 9 months after a devastating knee injury and he's catching passes over the middle? Smart or not, productive or not, hats off to Welker who is determined to prove his doubters wrong. He finished with two receptions for 20 yards and was targeted 3 times.

Honorable Mentions:
Tom Brady – 10 completions in 12 attempts for 1 TD and one sack. Brady finished with a 124 passer rating showing why he's mentally still in the game after a little more than 1 quarter of action.

Sammy Morris – 6 carries for 52 yards (8.7 avg.) and a TD were just the stats. Morris ran hard, made players miss and showed he can still get downfield when it counts.

Ryan scrambles away
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) scrambles out of the pocket during the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the New England Patriots Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

GOATS
1) TV Segways – Unfortunately the TV coverage skipped over much of the third quarter and part so the fourth to talk about the Eagles and the Cardinals. For Patriots and Falcons fans, that had to be frustrating.

2) O-Line backups – some of the players on the Patriots offensive line had days they'd like to forget. Ted Larsen managed a pair of false starts and – if we recall accurately – gave up a second half sack. Regardless, the backup O-line has a long way to go.

3) Preseason schedules – four games in the preseason are far too many. Plenty of Patriots starters / primary backups didn't even play because we're only half way through the preseason.

Dishonorable Mentions:
Falcon's tackling – sorry Mike Smith, but if Atlanta is going to be a serious contender in the NFC, better tackling is a top priority.

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