Tom Brady starts Pats' preseason finale, tunes up for ... Week 5

BY foxsports • September 1, 2016

Most NFL teams don't play their starters in the final preseason game to keep them from getting hurt. With Jimmy Garoppolo set to open the season at QB for the Patriots, New England chose not to start him Thursday against the Giants.

So instead the Pats started ... Tom Brady.

Not sure why Bill Belichick felt the need to get Brady a few snaps and risk injury to prepare him for Week 5, when he returns from his suspension. But that's what they did, and Brady opened with a pick on the Pats' first possession before tossing a TD.

Brady finished the first half 16 of 26 for 166 yards. Jacoby Brissett started the second half and was 11 of 18 for 123 yards in the 17-9 loss.

"I was happy I was able to play as much as I did," Brady told reporters. "It was a good opportunity to get out there and play. We did a decent job of moving the ball, but we turned it over too many times."

Brady showed flashes in his second preseason game of the season. He completed five passes between 16 and 38 yards, but only one drive resulted in a score, a 7-yard TD toss to Keshawn Martin. Two others, including one in the red zone, were ended by lost fumbles. His sixth and final series was a knee at the half.

Brady was sharpest on his fourth series, leading the Patriots on a nine-play, 77-yard drive. The two-time NFL MVP hit 6 of 7 passes and scrambled for 10 yards on the march, which ended with the TD toss to a wide-open Martin.

The 39-year-old Brady had New England at the Giants 19 on the next series after a 38-yard pass to Aaron Dobson. However, running back D.J. Foster fumbled a screen pass two plays later, ending the drive. Brady took a knee on the final play of the half.

Brady begins a four-game suspension Saturday for his role in the use of deflated footballs in the 2014 AFC championship game. The three-time Super Bowl MVP won't be eligible to rejoin the active roster until Oct. 3, leaving the team in the hands of Garoppolo.

Brady's absence will mark the first regular-season games he's missed since 2008, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the season opener.

The last time Brady played in a preseason finale was 2014, when he held for an extra point just to see if he can do it. His last start in a preseason finale was in 2011, a year the Patriots went to the Super Bowl, and lost to the Giants.

Brady is not allowed to have contact with the Patriots or utilize team facilities during his suspension. The 17-year veteran will be allowed to work with his close friend, personal trainer and health guru Alex Guerrero. They are partners in a sports therapy center near Gillette Stadium.

The Boston Globe has reported that the Patriots have paid the firm to provide nutritional advice to their players.

With the Giants winning the coin toss, Brady had to wait a few minutes before taking the field. His first series lasted four plays and a penalty. It ended at midfield when cornerback Trevin Wade cut in front of Dobson on a quick hook and intercepted.

Brady later hit Chris Hogan for 16 yards and Julian Edelman for 11 in moving the Patriots from their 6 to the 44 before punting. A first-play fumble by tight end Martellus Bennett near midfield ended Brady's third drive.

The fourth drive started after a fumble by Giants rookie Paul Perkins. After a holding penalty, Brady hit Edelman for 20 and Foster for 30 on a third-down swing pass that showed great touch by the quarterback. Brady even stunned New York on the drive, scrambling for a first down at the Giants 13.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.