Nothing doing in exhibition finale
Patriots get shut out but emerge unscathed
FOXBOROUGH -- Don't let the final score fool you.
Last night's 31-0 romp by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Patriots went precisely as New England planned.
The Patriots might have ended the exhibition season 1-3, but nobody hobbled out of Gillette Stadium and if Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy wanted to glean anything from the Patriots in preparation for Thursday's season opener here, forget it. Bill Belichick showed him nothing. He didn't play a single starter, with the exception of kicker Adam Vinatieri, punter Josh Miller, and long snapper Lonie Paxton. And he also declared Rohan Davey the backup quarterback to open the season despite a 29.4 passer rating against the Jaguars. It didn't take much to please Belichick last night.
"I thought Rohan made progress through the preseason," Belichick said. "I thought he did a lot of good things tonight. He showed he could manage the game. He hung in there under some pressure."
Davey played all but a couple of minutes as Tom Brady took the night off, with only pregame coin-flip and clipboard duties on his plate.
"The main thing is we wanted to get a lot of people in, and we did that," said Belichick, who indicated the reason his regulars didn't start was because "we played them a lot last week, played some guys an awful lot. It was a real physical game. We are coming back after just a few days, coming back off the road, real short week."
Davey hit on 13 for 25 passes for 104 yards and two interceptions. "I thought he did a nice job," said Brady of Davey. "I thought he made some nice throws."
The sellout crowd, which had to be somewhat disappointed not to see the usual starters, at least for a short time, saw a lot of rookie nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who also played some end. He was active and got into the Jaguars' backfield a couple of times.
Linebacker Justin Kurpeikis made a few nice plays coming off the edge, dragging down running back David Allen for a 2-yard loss with 4:45 to play, and four plays later breaking into the backfield and batting down a David Garrard pass. Kurpeikis had 11 tackles to lead the Patriots.
Mike Cloud carried 19 times for 93 yards, but he also fumbled in the fourth quarter. Davey attempted to go downfield to speedster Bethel Johnson on numerous occasions, one resulting in an interception by Juran Bolden in the end zone before the end of the half. He did find Johnson for a 24-yard hookup on the Patriots' third possession, Davey's longest completion of the preseason.
"I loved it," Davey said of playing most of the game. "The only thing that could have been better would have been a win. We missed a few scoring opportunities."
A couple of plays stood out, including linebacker Tully Banta-Cain's sack of Garrard in the first minute of the second quarter, forcing him to fumble, and rookie corner Randall Gay breaking up a pass from Byron Leftwich to Reggie Williams in the first quarter. Cornerback Earthwind Moreland also blitzed and sacked Leftwich for a 6-yard loss and fumble.
The Jaguars broke into the scoring column in the third quarter on a 31-yard field goal by Josh Scobee, ending an eight-play, 58-yard drive. Early in the fourth quarter, Garrard, who was 16 of 26 for 190 yards, hooked up with Troy Edwards for a 25-yard scoring strike in the right corner of the end zone, beating veteran Je'Rod Cherry, who also committed pass interference on the play.
Then third-string quarterback Quinn Gray tossed three touchdown passes in six minutes in the final quarter, inciting a round of boos by the few fans who remained.
The Patriots' starting defense, which included six rookies, held the Jaguars' starting unit to two first downs in three possessions and didn't allow the Jaguars to the Patriots' side of the field. "It was pretty competitive there for a pretty good part of the game," Belichick said.
Nobody would blame fans for wanting a refund. They saw nothing. But remember, Dungy didn't, either.