If Tom Brady is done for the preseason — and after Friday’s performance, it seems like it’s a safe bet — here’s a look at how his preseason stats from this year stack up to his work over the last decade-plus.

2 games: 25-for-31 (81 percent), 285 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 0 sacks

3 games: 34-for-44 (77 percent), 357 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks

2 games: 17-for-27 (63 percent) 157 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 3 sacks

3 games: 28-for-50 (56 percent), 379 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 3 sacks

4 games: 37-for-50 (74 percent), 476 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks

3 games: 26-for-42 (62 percent), 307 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 2 sacks


3 games: 32-for-48, (67 percent), 346 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 2 sacks

3 games: 35-for-54 (65 percent), 404 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 1 sack

2 games: 18-for-33 (55 percent) 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (no sack information available)

3 games: 34-for-44 (77 percent), 374 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (no sack information available)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — When Stephen Gostkowski ran out onto the field with just eight seconds left before halftime, he didn’t think about the fact he had never attempted a 60-yard field goal.

He didn’t have time to.

Stephen Gostkowski (3) converts a 60 yard field goal at the end of the first half. (Getty Images)

Stephen Gostkowski (3) converts a 60 yard field goal at the end of the first half. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — When Stephen Gostkowski ran out onto the field with just eight seconds left before halftime, he didn’t think about the fact he had never attempted a 60-yard field goal.

He didn’t have time to.

Maybe that’s why he didn’t try to “over-kick” the ball. Maybe that’s why he did rush his leg through and mis-hit the ball. Maybe that’s why he struck the ball just right and used the favorable wind at his back to connect from a distance that was six yards further than any kick he had ever made in the NFL.

‘€œIt was just good to get on a positive track making the first one,” Gostkowski said, referring to his 47 yarder late in the first quarter. “Sometimes the first kick is the hardest to make. And then we got the opportunity at the end of the half. That’€™s the time you want to try a long field goal. The thing about trying a long field goal like that is there are no expectations. You go out there, and it’€™s really a win-win situation.

“Nobody really expects you to make it, so it really puts your mind at ease. We hit a pretty good kick, and we got out there a little late, the play clock was running down, so I didn’€™t really get to aim. I just kind of kicked it, and luckily the wind blew it enough to the left, a nice little draw, and it just fell in there. It was cool to see everybody getting excited and stuff like that. It was just a pretty cool experience. It was the longest kick I’€™ve ever kicked in a game, and it’€™s nice to get an opportunity and take advantage of it.’€

Whatever the reason, the 60-yard field goal not only gave Gostkowski a nice feather in his cap, it planted a seed in the mind of Bill Belichick that if ever the Patriots need three points before the half or at the end of the game, attempting a kick from midfield is an option.

“We had a little wind there,” Belichick said. “We felt like if we normally get the ball around the 35, he’€™s in range. But at the end of a half or in that situation in the end of the half with a little bit of wind, I felt like the 40-yard line or close to the 40-yard line would get it for us. It was like the 42 or something like that. It was a great kick. It was a good situation for us. I think it really visually now gives our offense as clear of a picture as they could possibly have of where we need to get to, how much a couple extra yards means in that situation and hopefully we can make those kicks when we get in the regular season.”

Like all NFL kickers, Gostkowski has attempted and made 60 yarders in practice and in pre-game. But making it under pressure, as in the end of a half or at the end of the game, is something else altogether.

‘€œYeah, any kicker in the NFL can kick a ball 60 yards, it’€™s just kicking it straight and then when the pressure’€™s on, it’€™s a different story,” Gostkowski said. “The main thing is to just try not to over-kick because your adrenaline is running and you’€™re going to get extra distance than you would get in practice, so I just tried to think of a nice, smooth swing ‘€“ kind of like what I do when I golf when I actually hit the fairway. That’€™s what I was trying to think of, and it worked out. I think most times I miss kicks because I try to kick it too hard, so sometimes it takes time to get the rhythm and timing down, but we had it going on tonight.’€

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Shane Vereen was all smiles after scoring two touchdowns in Friday's win. (Getty Images)FOXBORO -- See you in September.

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

FOXBORO — Not only can a very good secondary limit what opposing quarterbacks can do against a defense — it also can help the other members of the defense get after the quarterback.

The Patriots finished with three sacks in their 30-7 win over the Panthers, all in the first quarter against starting quarterback Cam NewtonChandler Jones had two and Rob Ninkovich had the other.

“œThe first play of the game was definitely a coverage sack,”€ Ninkovich said. “I was just trying to mirror the quarterback and make sure he didn’€™t get out of the pocket. I was just collapsing and collapsing and I was able to get to [the quarterback]. That goes to the secondary.”

The Patriots secondary now has arguably the best cornerback in the game in Darrelle Revis, as well as Pro-Bowl safety Devin McCourty to go along with rising-star corners Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan — as well as the former member of the Seahawks Legion of Boom secondary, cornerback Brandon Browner. (Although it should be noted, he is suspended for the first four games of the season and didn’€™t play until the fourth quarter Friday night).

All those players stepped onto the field together for the first time this preseason and were able to give the entire defense some added energy and boost to their games.

“€œ[We] had a tremendous time. Football is fun,” Jones said. “We’€™re out there in the preseason we get a chance to go against a different team. Whether it is in practice, going against the Redskins or the Eagles. We got an opportunity to go out in our third preseason game and execute and we went out and did a good job.”€

The defense played very well, with the starters playing a little over a half, holding the Carolina offense — which made the postseason last year — to just 94 total yards in the first half.

“It’€™s just working hard throughout camp, and all week, trying to prepare and knowing that we were going against a good team and a good quarterback that was able to scramble around and get out of the pocket,”€ Ninkovich said. “It was a good game all around.”

Having a strong secondary has allowed the Patriots to go with a 3-4 defensive alignment — which they have shown a lot over the course of the summer — and in turn has given Jones and Ninkovich, who line up on the outside, a better chance of getting to quarterback.

“I think as a defense you are always doing multiple things,”€ said Ninkovich. “Whatever we are in, a end of the line players like we are, our job is to stop the run at the edge and get some pressure on the quarterback. Whatever it is, we are going to play it to the best of our ability and try to help the team out.”

Jones finished last season with 11 1/2  sacks after totaling six in his rookie season, while Ninkovich has finished with eight in each of the last two seasons. In the 3-4 set — with the strong secondary behind them — both players could be looking at similar, if not better numbers.

With the third preseason game as the so called “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, it went almost as well as they could have hoped for — giving them plenty of reasons to be excited for the upcoming season.

“€œIt felt very good to be out there with my teammates,” Jones said. “€œCoach [Bill Belichick] put us in great positions, we got some plays to execute and out-executed [the Panthers].”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable


FOXBORO, Mass. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price assess the performance of Tom Brady, Shane Vereen, Chandler Jones and the Patriots in their 30-7 preseason win over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers Friday night at Gillette Stadium. Brady was 17-for-21 passing with two touchdowns and 204 yards passing while Jones had two sacks and six tackles in containing one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — To Tom Brady, the numbers Friday night said one thing. The feeling he took from the 30-7 preseason win over the Carolina Panthers said another.

There’s no disputing that 17-for-21 for 204 yards, two touchdowns and a 138.9 quarterback rating are numbers most NFL quarterbacks would take in their final regular season tune-up. But, of course, Tom Brady is not most quarterbacks.

He knows that the rhythm wasn’t there to begin the game, as a miscommunication with his wide receivers on third down and a stumble and near fumble on the second series would indicate. He didn’t appear to have his timing on the first two series, both ending in punts. Then Ryan Mallett came in on the third series to get some work in with the starters.

Brady tripped over someone’s foot and fell awkwardly to the turf, handing off to Shane Vereen in the nick of time, but not before a defensive lineman came barreling over him to get to Vereen.

“I couldn’€™t tell because I had my back turned, but I think someone just got my foot,” Brady said. “I don’€™t know if it was a defensive lineman or offensive lineman, but, yeah, you never want that to happen. That, against a good team like this, usually ends drives, and that one certainly did this time.”

Brady certainly recovered. On the next series after Mallett came out of the game, Brady led the Patriots down the field, going completing all four pass attempts, including a 40-yarder to a wide open Shane Vereen in the right flat on the Vereen staple – the wheel route – for a touchdown.

“Yeah, it was a slow start all the way around, but it was good to make some plays there late in the second quarter and then the third quarter,” Brady said. “There’€™s a lot of work to do, but it was fun being out there. It’€™s great to win, especially this game. They’€™re a good football team and if you don’€™t execute well, they’€™re going to be really tough. I’€™ve got a lot of respect for those guys [from] playing them last year. They’€™ve got a great team.”

Even on the 60-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski before the half, Brady and Bill Belichick thought that maybe with some slightly better clock management, they could’ve made things easier on themselves and their kicker. Still, for the starters to put 20 points up on the board against one of the better defenses in football provides some confidence going into the season.

“Yeah, it wasn’€™t bad, but there are a lot of things that we left out there,” Brady said. “We got bailed out there a few times on a few defensive calls. Missed some blitz stuff, missed some throws. I think we can be a lot better. It’€™s an important week for us to try to get better. The days are winding down until all these games count. It gets pretty exciting here in a few weeks, but you’€™ve still got to try to use these days to make as many improvements as we can. This game was good because you can really see where you’€™re at and you can see the things you need to get better. I think there’€™s a lot of things we can improve on.”

Brady was referring to the illegal use of hands called on defensive end Frank Alexander on third-and-15 that wiped out the incompletion intended for Brandon LaFell, and kept the third quarter touchdown drive alive. Brady explained why the Patriots can’t rely on those bailouts in the season.

“I think you look at each of those individual plays and you figure out what we need to do better to execute better to make the plays so that ‘€“ you never want to rely on things like that. You’€™re right ‘€“ you get a little bonus chance. And we’€™ll get those from time to time over the course of the season, and it’€™s really good to take advantage of those when you do get them. There are going to be times when we get calls on third down that go in our favor. But you know when we have opportunities to execute plays; that’€™s what we really want to do.

“We don’€™t want to have to wait for the ref to throw a flag or something like that. But we’€™re learning. We’€™re all learning out there with each other. Football is always about anticipation and confidence in one another and everyone being on the same page. Anticipatory offensive football is what the best offenses are all about. Those are the things that we still need to improve on. That’€™s why it’€™s still the preseason. We’€™ve got a few weeks until it matters and we have to try to do as many good things as possible over the next few weeks to make those improvements and then over the course of the year you try to do that every week also.”

Given new life, that drive ended with the second touchdown pass of the day to Shane Vereen, and Brady’s night was over.

“Yeah, he made some great plays tonight,” Brady said. “He’€™s been that way ‘€“ he’€™s really had such a dependable role for us for the last few years and just done a great job. When the ball is in his hands, good things are happening for our team. We’€™re going to try to just keep getting him the ball.”

Here are some other takeaways from the Brady postgame presser Friday night:

Q: In your experience, are you guys where you need to be about this time of the summer?

TB: Yeah, I think we’€™re just still working at it. You can never stop getting better. We’€™re going to hopefully be that way through the whole season. Each of these games you learn something. Different players do different things and find different roles for themselves. This was a good game because we’€™re playing a really good team. They challenge in a lot of areas. Like I said, we got off to a slow start, which you never really want to do, but we made a few plays and got some momentum and ended up having a great lead there at the end of the game. But I think we’€™re just going to focus on the individual plays and see where were can get better. Because you have to go out there and do it and see where you’€™re at and adjust to the game speed, adjust to the coverages, and then go out there and execute against a great team in a couple weeks.

Q: Is your back OK? It looked like someone maybe kneed you in the back when you were trying to get the ball to Shane.

TB: No, I’m good. I feel pretty good.

Q: Your kicker kicked a 60 yarder. How does that uplift a team?

TB: Yeah, I mean, incredible kick. That’€™s a long ways away, so it gives everybody a lot of confidence that if you get the ball to whatever, the 42-yard line, you’€™ve got a chance at three points. That was a great kick, great execution by everybody. Hopefully we can get him a little closer during the season and make it a little easier on Steve [Gostkowski], but we know he’€™s got it there in him if we need that to happen at some point this year.

Q: Defensively was it encouraging to get the ball back pretty quickly?

TB: Yeah, they played great. We’€™ve been going against them all camp, so it’€™s nice to see them go against another offense and watch those guys rush the quarterback, pass breakups, tight coverage. That’€™s what we’€™ve been getting all camp, so it’€™s been great for us, great for our passing game to see the type of coverages that our defense plays. We’€™ve got a lot of experience with those guys. It was great to see them out on the field, rallying to the ball, making plays. We can’€™t lose if they don’€™t score, so that’€™s a good thing for offensive football.

Q: Overall is this a confidence builder game?

TB: Well, we could have lost 30-7 and none of it’€™s going to matter two weeks from now. I think it’€™s more just about our improvement and guys finding roles for themselves and getting into their game conditions. I think that’€™s what this game is all about. It’€™s not so much the final score; it’€™s just more how guys are playing and how guys are reacting to situations and whether guys can find a role on the team.

Q: So how much does it help you and the offense in general to have so many receivers back from last year, as opposed to having so many new faces last year?

TB: Yeah absolutely. I think there’€™s a lot of growing that you do over the course of the year. There are a lot of balls you throw, a lot of meetings, conversations you have. All the guys that came last year, there was a lot that was forced on their plate, and they’€™ve been able to handle it and that’€™s why they’€™re still here trying to work their butt off to try to find a role this year. You’€™re right, there’€™s not as many things you need to go over. You’€™re still trying to make improvements. You’€™re always trying to get better. No matter what point you’€™re at, you’€™re trying to build. It’€™s just that we were building from a different place last year. We have a lot of confidence in each other, KT [Kenbrell Thompkins] and Josh [Boyce] and Aaron [Dobson] and those guys from last year that were new ‘€“ Danny [Amendola], certainly. We made some plays tonight that would have been tougher to make last year, just based on the situation in the game and the anticipation that you need from both positions.

Q: Were you able to say hi to Luke Kuechly or anybody and talk about how last year’€™s game ended?

TB: No, I missed those guys. I didn’€™t say anything. I saw them after the game, a few of the guys, but no, we didn’€™t bring up last year. That was’€¦Yeah we won’€™t forget that one. That was some way to end it.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Shane Vereen is the most versatile player the Patriots offense has.

While they have highly-touted players in Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, no one player can more things than Vereen.

If Vereen stays healthy, he could put up some giant numbers this season — similar to dynamic running back Darren Sproles, now of the Eagles.

The 2011 second-round pick out of Cal has certainly showed some flashes of stardom, but he’€™s yet to play a full season — playing in five, 13 and eight games respectively in his first three seasons in the league.

A 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, the running back’s strength is catching passes out of the backfield –€“ something he displayed Friday night, catching two touchdown passes in the Patriots’€™ 30-7 win over the Panthers.

“I was just glad the offensive was able to string together a couple drives — string together some plays,” said Vereen. “We kind of hurt ourselves a little bit, we still have a lot to work on, but it was good to get out there and develop some kind of rhythm.”

On the first touchdown Vereen was able to showcase his speed, as after catching a short pass from Tom Brady out of the backfield, the running back took off up the right side bursting past members of the Panthers secondary for 40 yards and the first touchdown of the game.

“I was hoping — running that fast I definitely didn’€™t want to get caught — I would hear it from everyone here in the locker room [if I did],” Vereen said.

His second touchdown came in the third quarter — also from Brady — a 6-yard quick out route from the backfield as he outstretched the ball just inside the pylon. At first it was ruled he was out of bounds inside the 1-yard line, but Bill Belichick challenged the play and it was overturned for his second touchdown of the game.

“€œI couldn’€™t tell if I stepped out of bounce or not, but I tried like hell to get in there,” Vereen said.

Vereen finished the game with 75 all-purpose yards — five catches for 57 yards and six rushes for 18 yards.

Plagued by injuries, last season was cut short when he broke his wrist in the first game of the season in Buffalo. He did return later in the season, but only played in eight total games — rushing for 208 yards and a touchdown, while catching 47 passes for 427 yards and three touchdowns. His rookie campaign was also shortened to five games due to a nagging hamstring injury.

Going off his numbers last season — if converted to a full 16-game season — Vereen would have finished with 416 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, while catching 94 balls for 854 yards and six touchdowns. Added up he would’€™ve had a 1,248 all-purpose yard season with eight total touchdowns.

In comparison, Sproles averaged 385.75 yards rushing in the four seasons he was able to play all 16 games and 517.25 yards receiving, while reaching the end zone six times a year in those year’s spanning from 2008-2011. Vereens’s 16-game numbers would have in fact turned out better than Sproles’.

“€œHonestly, I just go out and work on a lot of things in practice and whatever they ask me to do, I just go ahead and do a good job of that the game,” Vereen said.

On the first touchdown Vereen scored Friday night, the Patriots featured a two-back set in the backfield with he and James White split behind Brady. With backs having tremendous speed it creates a nightmare for opposing linebackers and Brady was able to exploit it. It could be a formation featured a lot in the upcoming season, especially given the results Friday night.

“I think it’€™s something that now defenses will need to prepare. It’€™s something that we work on and I think it’€™s something we’€™ll be able to use to our advantage,” said Vereen.

The fourth-year running back played the most snaps among the running back group, finishing with 28 snaps (including penalties). As demonstrated with past performance, if Vereen can stay on the field for a full season, he could be one of the best running back pass catchers in the game.

Like most members of the team, he isn’€™t thinking of anything like that as he is focused on the team preparing itself for the games that matter.

“We have done some good things, but there is also a lot that we need to work on,” he said. “You have to still take into account this is still the preseason and we still have some weeks to go until we get to the real thing. It’€™s good to see some success, but we still have a long way to go.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — The Patriots topped the Panthers in the third preseason game for both teams Friday night at Gillette Stadium, 30-7.