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New England Patriots

Fittingly, the Patriots had to grind their way to the preseason finish line in Thursday’s 17-12 victory over the Giants.

With any and every Patriot of significant — or even minor, really — regular-season importance sitting almost the entire game out, it was up to third-string quarterback Danny Etling to get things going for the New England offense.

That proved to be more difficult than you’d think, as Etling’s Patriots and Giants quarterback Kyle Lauletta’s offense scuffled their way to a 3-6 score at halftime. And with everyone having suffered for experiencing the event in any way, shape, or form.

But it was in the third quarter that Etling began to find his groove.

He found wide receiver K.J. Maye for a 45-yard deep threat that put New England on the goal line, and capped the scoring drive with a one-yard touchdown throw to preseason standout running back Ralph Webb.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots’ third-stringers kept things tight — and their 10-6 lead intact in the process — late in the fourth quarter with a redzone stop against the Giants.

But even with just four minutes remaining in an almost decided game, Etling’s second half to remember was not finished.

Not until Etling turned a read-option into an 86-yard touchdown run on the Giant defense, at least.

With the run serving as the perfect cap to Etling’s hot-and-cold night, the 2018 seventh-round draft pick finished the night 18-of-32 through the air, with 157 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The passing game left a little to be desired, as Etling had a definite mixed bag of decisions. On the ground, however, Etling rushed for a Patriot preseason-high 115 yards on five carries. (Jeremy Hill entered this game as New England’s leading preseason rusher, with 107 yards over three games.)

Unlikely to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster (the Patriots are not equipped to carry three quarterbacks this season), the Pats will now hope that they can sneak Etling through waivers on cut-down day and assign him to their practice squad.

In terms of the roster outlook on the defensive side of the ball, it’s worth noting that Jason McCourty drew back into the game in the third quarter after seemingly being taken out in the first half. What that means for the 31-year-old’s potential spot on the Patriots’ 53-man roster will have to wait until Saturday’s massive cut-down day. And if it means anything, cornerback Cyrus Jones was on the field with a minute left in the fourth and final game of the preseason.¬†Undrafted rookie and definite summertime surprise J.C. Jackson, meanwhile, was carted off the field and back to the Patriot locker room due to dehydration.

With their preseason slate officially over, the Patriots will now have to trim their roster from nearly 90 down to 53 before they can begin to prep for Week 1 showdown at Gillette Stadium against the Houston Texans.