Patriots defense shuts down Panthers, 30-7

Patriots defense shuts down Panthers, 30-7
August 22, 2014, 9:45 pm
Share This Post

FOXBORO -- The Patriots got two touchdowns from Shane Vereen and their defense effectively shut down Cam Newton and the Panthers offense to win Friday's preseason game at Gillette Stadium, 30-7. 

Vereen finished the game with five catches on five targets for 57 yards and two scores, including a 40-yard scamper on a pass out of the backfield from Tom Brady that put the Patriots up 10-0 in the second quarter. He found the end zone again in the third quarter from six yards away when he kept himself from going out of bounds and dove for the pylon. He was ruled out of bounds short of the goal line, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick challenged the play and won.

Stephen Gostkowski kicked three field goals on the night. The first was a 47-yarder that was made after backup snapper Rob Ninkovich got the ball to holder Ryan Allen without incident. He also had one in the third quarter and he finished the first half with a 60-yarder that just snuck over the crossbar. 

Belichick may have given Patriots fans a scare when he pulled Brady in favor of Ryan Mallett in the first quarter. Brady was not injured, however, which Belichick confirmed during an interview at halftime. The Patriots simply wanted to see Mallett perform in a simulated emergency situation. He got seven snaps and completed two-of-three passes for 14 yards. 

Brady finished the game with a very accurate line of 17-for-21 for 204 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Three of Brady's incompletions came on passes that could have been caught -- two were missed by wideout Brandon LaFell, one was a drop by Kenbrell Thompkins.

The Patriots defense swarmed Carolina from the start. Chandler Jones was consistently in the Panthers backfield and six tackles, including two sacks, three tackles for a loss and two quarterback hurries. Linebacker Jamie Collins, who was playing without fellow starting 'backers Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower, chipped in with five tackles. Second-year linebacker Steve Beauharnais started the game alongside Collins and had one interception that he returned 61 yards into Carolina territory.

Jimmy Garoppolo finished off the Patriots scoring by finding fullback Taylor McCuller for a short touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. 

The Panthers avoided a shutout when Joe Webb found D.C. Jefferson for a 3-yard touchdown with 2:40 remaining.