by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
September 4, 2009

After a first quarter that was about as much fun to watch as a dentist appointment, New England’s backups outpaced the Giants’ in the final three quarters, pulling off a 38-27 win in the preseason finale.

New York opened with their starters, and it showed. The Giants varsity scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and prevented the New England JVs from gaining a first down until BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ 16-yard run early in the second quarter.

Like the end result, we’ll stay positive today, awarding players who performed well under the circumstances and helped turn this thing around by the end of the first half. Let’s hope a few of these guys end up on the 53-Patriot roster.

Best Confidence Builder: If you watched ESPN’s coverage of the NFL draft, you saw a heart-achingly hopeful Brian Hoyer sitting and waiting for his phone to ring. The rookie quarterback went undrafted, eventually answering New England’s call to camp. Thursday night, he showed other teams what they’d missed by completing 18 of 25 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown. Yeah, sure, “it’s only preseason,” but it always feels better to say that after a strong performance than after a rancid one.

Best Impression Of A Forklift: Playing both defensive end and tackle, rookie Ron Brace bulled his way past opposing linemen on a regular basis. Though Brace failed to ring up a tackle on the stat sheet, he made his impact felt all along the line.

Best Outside Chance: Backup outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich did a solid job of holding the edge on running plays. Though he needed some variety in his pass-rush moves, he did pressure quarterback Andre Woodson on the interception that safety Brandon McGowan returned for a touchdown. Ninkovich’s special teams experience should help, too.

Best Reason To Go Green (-Ellis): We know that Laurence Maroney is making this team, but Green-Ellis may have boosted his status with Thursday night’s 29-carry, 125-yard, three-TD performance. The roster decision may come down to Green-Ellis or someone else (Sammy Morris? A special-teamer?). If so, a young guy who runs with power and occasional burst (note his 32-yard scamper for the game-sealing score) is worth keeping.

Best Story To Be Continued: Underdog receiver Terrence Nunn (and if you don’t know his story, it’s worth checking out) showed off his kick return skills, shaking off a tackle for a 49-yarder to set up a score. He also caught three balls for 64 yards, including a nifty one-handed grab early in the third quarter. There must be a roster spot for this guy somewhere.

Best Snappy Answer: Did you hear long snapper Jake Ingram’s name called all evening? Me, neither. If he can keep that up for the next 11 or 12 years, we’ll take it.

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