The Patriots and Packers suspended play with 10:29 left in Saturday’s preseason game after Pats rookie cornerback Isaiah Bolden was carted off of the field on a backboard.
Bolden was injured after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from teammate Calvin Munson on a 7-yard catch by Packers rookie receiver Malik Heath while Bolden was in coverage and Munson was coming over from linebacker to make the tackle.
Head official John Hussey announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, at the agreement of both head coaches and team leadership, we have elected to suspend play for the evening. The game is officially over. Thank you.”
That came after Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and special-teams captain Matthew Slater and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur had met at midfield.
Bolden was shown on the television broadcast laying motionless after taking the hit on friendly fire. Patriots broadcasters Bob Socci and Scott Zolak said they saw movement from Bolden before he was taken off on a cart strapped to a backboard.
The Patriots led 21-17 before play was suspended. There were encouraging signs from players who will likely make an impact for the Patriots during the 2023 season. And the Patriots have to hope that the return of key offensive starters will solve some of the issues the team faced early in the exhibition game.
Quarterback Mac Jones started Saturday’s game and looked comfortable under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien’s playcalling. He completed 6-of-9 passes for 52 yards and led one scoring drive off of an unforced turnover by the Packers.
Center Josh Myers snapped the ball over Packers quarterback Jordan Love’s right shoulder, and the ball wound up in outside linebacker Josh Uche’s hands 23 yards downfield at the 18-yard line. A false start pushed the Patriots 5 yards back, but Jones completed two passes for 17 yards to Kendrick Bourne. After Jones scrambled to the 1-yard line, running back Rhamondre Stevenson pounded forward for the first touchdown of the night.
Miscues from young offensive linemen stalled the Patriots’ next two offensive drives. Rookie right tackle Sidy Sow forced the Patriots to punt by allowing a sack on third-and-9. After the Packers scored a touchdown on a completion from Love to rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed, the Patriots turned the ball over on their ensuing drive when Andrew Stueber replaced Brown at left tackle and let up a strip sack. Before that, however Jones zeroed in on rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas for two catches on two targets for 17 yards. He also completed an impressive 17-yard pass to Bourne off his back foot while facing pressure.
That was all for Jones, who gave way to backup quarterback Bailey Zappe.
The Patriots’ run defense — Uche and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, in particular — struggled against backup Packers running back Emanuel Wilson and let up a touchdown on their second consecutive series.
Zappe completed 10-of-52 passes for 117 yards and hit rookie wide receiver Kayshon Boutte for a 42-yard catch and run on a slant route. Boutte had a slow start to training camp but has been making a hard push for a roster spot over the past two weeks. Boutte also scored a touchdown in Thursday’s joint practice between the Patriots and Packers and drew a defensive pass interference penalty prior to his score.
The Packers finished off the first half with a go-ahead field goal after a Patriots interception was called back when rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez was flagged for defensive pass interference.
Zappe and the Patriots’ offense responded late in the third quarter when the backup quarterback scrambled for a 6-yard go-ahead touchdown when head coach Bill Belichick elected to go for it on 4-and-2 in the red zone.
QB Mac Jones: The Patriots stalled offensively when Jones was on the field because of the offensive line, not anything the QB was doing. Jones actually maneuvered the pocket pretty well and showed some shiftiness on a 4-yard scramble inside the red zone.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson: The Patriots should shelve Stevenson after Saturday’s showing, when he looked like himself on a 23-yard carry and goal-line touchdown carry.
WR Kayshon Boutte: The sixth-round pick isn’t the biggest or fastest wide receiver, but he simply makes plays. He led the Patriots with 49 yards on two catches and two targets while also drawing a DPI.
OT Sidy Sow: It’s still unclear who will start at right tackle for the Patriots. Sow started Saturday but let up a key sack on third down. Riley Reiff is playing right guard, Calvin Anderson is on the non-football illness list and Conor McDermott sat out Saturday with an injury. It’s a major question right now.
OT Andrew Stueber: Stueber is competing for a backup offensive line job in a banged up group. He allowed a strip sack Saturday.
DT Lawrence Guy: Guy was pushed around by rookie tight end Luke Musgrave on a long first-half run. Guy was also replaced by Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux in the start defense. He sat out of minicamp.
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