Things started out rough enough for Tom Brady and Co. down in Carolina, but backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo led another fourth-quarter comeback to squeak out a 17-16 win over the Panthers Friday night.
Tom Brady and the first-team unit (minus a few key starters) couldn't get much at all going through the first 25+ minutes of the contest, going three-and-out in the first two drives before Brady threw interceptions - both thrown Aaron Dobson's way - on the next two drives.
Dobson was certainly to blame on the first pick, as Brady tossed a dart to down along the numbers with the ball hitting Dobson in the hands, but the wideout bobbled the ball and was unable to haul it in, allowing corner Charles Tillman to wrestle it out of his grip.
The Panthers were able to cash in with a field goal, and on the ensuing drive Brady threw his second pick after Dobson didn't cut on the route hard enough and instead faded back ever so slightly, allowing safety Kurt Coleman to jump the ball and pick it off.
Yet the offense was bailed out by a first-team defensive unit that played rather well for themselves through the first half, holding Cam Newton and the Panther offense to just two field goals. Getting the ball back with 2:13 left in the half, Brady drove the Pats 80 yards in seven plays, finishing the scoring drive with a beautiful lofted throw to tight end Scott Chandler down the sideline, dropping the throw right in Chandler's hands above the linebacker.
Brady finished the half 7-of-13 for 83 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and a 59.9 rating and was lifted for Jimmy Garoppolo at the start of the second half.
Garoppolo's first drive stalled out after the turning it over on downs and then again late in the quarter when the Pats punted after just four plays, with another Panthers field goal sandwiched in between.
Carolina took the 16-7 lead heading into the fourth, and that's when Garoppolo pulled some strings and put together a pair of scoring drives to hand New England the 17-16 lead and the eventual win.
Early in the quarter, Jimmy G. went 60 yards in just four plays, highlighted by a 40-yard bomb to Dobson and the nine-yard touchdown toss to Dion Lewis to pull the Pats within two. After the defense held the Panthers to a three-and-out, Garoppolo led a seven-play drive to set up Stephen Gostkowski for the 53-yard field goal and the 17-16 lead.
After forcing the Panthers to punt on the ensuing possession, Garoppolo hit Zach D'Orazio for a first down on third-and-seven to ice the game after Carolina had burned all their timeouts.
Garoppolo finished 13 of 17 for 126 yards and a TD, good for a 116.3 QB rating.
There were plenty of positives to take from tonight's contest, but one setback the team suffered was the apparent significant leg/ankle injury fullback James Develin suffered late in the fourth. Develin needed the cart to take him off the field, which is obviously never a good sign.
One more preseason game remains on the docket against the Giants. But before we get there, more roster cuts are incoming and due on Tuesday, with the roster needing to be at 75 players.