With fans back in the Gillette Stadium stands for the first time since the 2020 Wild Card game (over 19 months ago), the New England Patriots kicked their 2021 preseason off with a 22-13 win over the Washington Football Team.
The New England victory was not complete without a little drama either, as a video review overturned what would’ve been a game-tying two-point conversion from Washington with a minute and a half left in the game, which made the difference even before an exclamation mark, 91-yard rush from Rhamondre Stevenson with just over a minute left in the game.
And while the story of this game (and the rest of the 2021 preseason and perhaps the regular season) was certainly focused on the quarterback competition brewing between Cam Newton and 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones, it was the undrafted Quinn Nordin who accounted for the Patriots’ first nine points of the evening, with three field goals on three tries.
Nordin’s best boot came on his second of the night, too, with a 50-yard bomb perfectly through the uprights.
Quinn Nordin can KICK. This is a Big Ten tweet. pic.twitter.com/f9f6wQWeRL— Ben Stevens (@BenScottStevens) August 13, 2021
Off to a strong start on defense with Washington forced to punt on three of their first four drives (and with Dustin Hopkins missing a 40-yard field goal on their lone non-punt drive), the New England defense finally broke on what was a 12-play, 64-yard drive capped by a Peyton Barber rush over the goal line to make it a 7-6 game at the half.
But after the Patriots regained the lead with another field goal, a Joejuan Williams interception with 13:40 remaining in the fourth quarter put third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer into the game for his first action of the evening, and led to the Patriots’ first touchdown of the night on a Stevenson-powered drive and touchdown blast into the endzone.
Camp standout Kristian Wilkerson continued his strong summer push and finished as the Patriots’ leading receiver by the night’s end, with six receptions (on nine targets) and 39 yards.
Stevenson, meanwhile, was the team’s top rusher, with 34 yards and a score on eight carries before the 91-yard rush ballooned his end-of-night total to 127 yards on 10 carries, while Sony Michel was second with 26 yards over six carries.
On defense, linebacker Harvey Langi finished as New England’s top tackler, with nine total tackles.
The Patriots will continue their preseason slate with a trip to Philly for a showdown with the Eagles next Thursday.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.