Jimmy Garoppolo drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers Friday night. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo learned a couple of very valuable lessons Friday night in New England’s 17-16 preseason win over the Carolina Panthers.
First, make sure of your reads and your throws and take care of the football. And secondly, and maybe more importantly, it’s not how you start but how you finish.
Certainly, Garoppolo watched as the 2014 Patriots proved that, winning the Super Bowl last season after a very shaky 2-2 start.
Friday night, it was Garoppolo who looked shaky at the start. Opening the second half in relief of Tom Brady, Garoppolo threw to the outside for Jonathan Krause. The ball was badly underthrown and Bene Benwikere stepped in front and had an easy pick-6. But he dropped the ball. After a run from LeGarrette Blount and a completion to Michael Hoomanawanui, Garoppolo threw a pass to the left sideline for Chris Harper.
Amazingly, Josh Norman dropped the ball or Garoppolo would have been intercepted. Two sure-fire picks on his first three throws.
“Good fortune, I guess, on a couple of those,” Garoppolo said. “Those are throws you can’t make. You’ve just got to learn from those.”
Garoppolo said he will take that lesson into the preseason finale Thursday night against the Giants.
“There’s a ton of things,” Garoppolo said. “Those two throws tonight. Those were near-picks. You don’t want to have any of those. It’s Game 4. We’re just going to go into it like every other week. We’re going into it, and while I’m in there, just compete.”
Garoppolo finished the night leading the Patriots back from a 16-7 hole to a 17-16 win. He completed 12 of his next 14 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown to Dion Lewis. The Lewis connection came immediately after a nice pass of 40 yards to Dobson down the right sideline in the fourth quarter, highlighting a four-play, 60-yard drive.
“It was an important drive for sure,” Garoppolo said. “Aaron made a huge play down the sideline, a great catch. Dion got open for the touchdown. It was really all those guys doing their job on every play. It was just one play after another, we were executing. It turned out to be a good drive.”
He’ll need several good drives if his number is called on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh in the season opener. Right now, Garoppolo is happy with the progress he’s continuing to make.
“I’m doing all right with it,” Garoppolo said. “It is what it is, really. Can’t really control any part of it. The less you worry about it, the better. There’s really no point to worry about it. I’m doing pretty good.”
Garoppolo said he could sense that the team built off its come-from-behind win last week in New Orleans.
“Completely different game but I’m sure the momentum from last week, getting that win, helped us a little bit, get some energy going. We came out and played pretty well,” Garoppolo said. “Executing better. That’s what it comes down to. First game, second game, third game, they’re all different. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out there and execute, do whatever the coach tells you to do. When all 11 guys are doing that, you get a good result.”