FOXBORO -– It may be too little, too late for Ryan Mallett but at least he’s going down swinging.
The Patriots fourth-year backup quarterback was relegated to mop-up duty behind Tom Brady and rookie Jimmy Garopollo Friday night and he delivered a performance that was praiseworthy.
Starting the second half, Mallett ran for a score from 6 yards out -- not his forte but a wise and well-executed decision. On his next drive, he executed a nice play fake to get the defense flowing left then rolled well to his right and completed a 23-yard pass on the move to Josh Boyce. That drive ended in a 10-yard Roy Finch touchdown run. Mallett’s best throw was a 17-yard fade to Brian Tyms for another score.
“We’ve been watching 84 (Tyms) do that in practice, he’s been making plays all camp,” Mallett shrugged. “He had 1-on-1 coverage so I’m gonna let him make a play. I was just trying to get it close to him.”
It was the kind of touch pass, though, that a player has to be loose and confident to complete. Mallett -- for whatever reason -- was both of those on Friday night.
“I’m always confident,” said Mallett.
It didn’t look that way last week in Washington when Mallett opened his second drive with a one-hopper at the ankles of Brandon LaFell and had assorted other sketchy decisions.
He was outplayed by Garoppolo who may have gotten the chance to play earlier this week as a result of last week’s work or because Mallett missed a little time earlier in the week with an injury.
Mallett said he wasn’t keeping track of when he got in.
“As I said this week, whenever they call my number I’ll be ready,” he insisted. “If I get to play in the game, that’s all that matters. I just want to go out there and get better as a player and I feel like I did that tonight and I just gotta keep building on it.”
Mallett finished 7-for-11 for 93 yards with the touchdown. Even though he says he has no idea what the outside noise is regarding his spot on the team, he has to know by the tenor of the questions he’s asked what the gist is: He’s on the ropes.
Friday night, he fought back a bit.