AT A GLANCE: With starters getting the night off, the preseason finale between the New York Giants and New England Patriots turned into final auditions for players trying to lock up a roster spot. Players like Donte Deayon, who had two interceptions, made the most of the opportunity. However, it wasn’t enough as the Giants fell to the Patriots, 17-12, at MetLife Stadium. Big Blue finished the preseason 2-2.
UP NEXT: NFL clubs must reduce their rosters to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, eight days before the Giants kick off the 2018 regular season at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I’ve always believed that you have to keep the 53 best players,” general manager Dave Gettleman told Bob Papa and Carl Banks during a stop in the broadcast booth. “I’ve seen it time and again where people say I’ve got plenty of linebackers, so they trade away a linebacker and the next game, two guys get hurt. We’re going to keep the 53 best and then we’re going to work the waiver wire.”
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:
*Fourth-round draft choice Kyle Lauletta started at quarterback for the Giants and threw a 20-yard dart to wide receiver Kalif Raymond on the first play. The Richmond product has been the third-string quarterback all summer behind Eli Manning and second-year pro Davis Webb, but the coaches decided to give the rookie the nod in the finale. Lauletta completed eight of 19 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, both of which came on deep passing attempts. Webb, who started the second preseason game in Detroit, did not play. Alex Tanney took over after Lauletta’s second interception in the third quarter and went 13 of 23 for 92 yards and a late touchdown to Alonzo Russell.
*Wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo made plenty of plays in training camp but had yet to touch the ball this preseason. That changed when he took a short pass from Lauletta across the field and up the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.
*A late addition to camp, Jhurell Pressley flashed some more nice runs on Thursday. After leading the team with 71 rushing yards on 12 carries last week against the Jets, he recorded 40 yards on seven attempts against the Patriots, including a 19-yard cutback run.
*The Giants announced on Monday that three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. signed a lucrative contract extension, 13 days before the season opener.
“Very frankly, one of my goals was to eliminate distractions,” Gettleman said. “One of the things a general manager has to do is to eliminate distractions. He has to clear the decks so that coaches can coach and players can play, and that was important to me. Very important. We all just sat down, had a plan, and frankly, I spoke to Odell before we started and he and I had a great conversation. We were true to our word and he was true to his and we got the deal done. It’s really nothing any fancier than that. Deals get done when they’re supposed to get done, the deal was supposed to get done on Monday.”
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE:
*While he would not have started anyway on Thursday night, outside linebacker Olivier Vernon sprained his ankle in practice this week and has not been back in action since. Rookie Lorenzo Carter is part of a group of players the Giants need to step up in Vernon’s absence, the length of which is uncertain at this point. Carter answered the bell and sacked Danny Etling, the Patriots’ starting quarterback for the finale, early in the game. Carter had a half-sack last week against the Jets.
*In his push for a roster spot, cornerback Donte Deayon turned in the defensive highlight of the night. Late in the first half, Deayon read a pass from Etling intended for K.J. Maye and perfectly timed his leap to intercept the ball, falling down at the Patriots six-yard line. Deayon grabbed another interception with nine seconds to go in the first half and finished the game with three tackles and four passes defensed. Now that’s ending on a high note. Fellow cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris also had himself a day, racking up six tackles and two passes defensed.
*William Gay got another extended trial run at safety as the veteran transitions from cornerback. The longtime Steeler looked to be a good option for the Giants as their slot cornerback upon signing, but B.W. Webb has earned most of the reps there this summer. Gay started next to special teams ace Michael Thomas on Thursday night.
*The coaches won’t be happy in the film room when they watch Etling, the quarterback, run for an 86-yard touchdown to break the game open in the fourth quarter. New England totaled 199 yards on 28 carries.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS:
*Punter Riley Dixon, whom the Giants acquired via trade this offseason, had four more punts downed inside the 20-yard line, increasing his preseason total to 11. He also booted a 61-yarder on Thursday.
*Backup kicker Marshall Koehn missed an extra point attempt following Etta-Tawo’s touchdown. Aldrick Rosas did not have any attempts, which meant he finished the preseason perfect by going six of six.
GAME CAPTAINS: LT Nate Solder (former Patriot), OLB Kareem Martin, WR Russell Shepard
INJURY REPORT: OLB Avery Moss (knee, returned), OL Nick Becton (ankle), RB Robert Martin (ankle)