Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 8/21/12
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Three games in 10 days forced Bill Belichick to change his normal preseason routine. Belichick sat twenty players, including Tom Brady who left Gillette stadium before the game even started. It seemed like a long night was in store, but the underlings showed up to play.

Ryan Mallet got the start at quarterback, and with an offensive line that had a lot of trouble blocking the dangerous defensive line, Mallet did some good things (10 for 20, 105 yards, 1 TD). Mallet showed command of the offense, and was able to lead them on a scoring drive.

The offensive line struggled as (left to right) Nate Solder, Nick McDonald, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, and Marcus Cannon started the game. Mallet was under constant pressure, having to scramble or get rid of the ball quickly. The Josh McDaniels’ effect was clear as the screen game that seemed to find the back seat with Bill O’Brien, was back.

Deion Branch made a strong case to make the team, getting the starting nod opposite Donte Stallworth, Branch shined beating the eagles top corners for 3 catches for 51 yards.

The big story line was the Patriots second string defense, as they accepted the challenge of Micheal Vick and the Philly offense. The defense gave up one first down on the Eagles’ first possession, and then knocked Vick out of the game on their second.

Vick was hurt when he was flushed out of the pocket when tackle Kyle Love shot through the middle. He looked downfield, but when he threw the ball, the quarterback was drilled by Jermaine Cunningham.

Rookie Nick Foles came in for Vick, and was sacked by Ron Brace on the same drive.

Without the top defensive players, the second team eventually wore down, but the showed they could compete against one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Dont'a Hightower came as advertised making a few open field tackles on Lesean McCoy, and showing his comfort in the defense, also breaking up a pass attempt.

The Patriots next test is Friday against the Tampa Buccaneers in Tampa, and the second stringers will take a backseat to Brady and the starters on both sides of the ball.

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