NFL News & Analysis

NFL Preseason Week 3 Game Recap: New England Patriots 22, New York Giants 20

East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) signals during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants‘ starters played far later into their third and final preseason game than the New England Patriots‘, but New England still emerged victorious 22-20 in Week 3 of the 2021 NFL preseason.

The Patriots were propelled by first-round rookie Mac Jones, who continued to pressure Cam Newton for the starting quarterback job.

Click here for more PFF tools:

Fantasy Draft Kit | PFF Betting Dashboard | PFF Fantasy Rankings
PFF Fantasy Projections | NFL Premium Stats | Win Totals Tracker

New England Patriots


Cam Newton got the first quarter of play — and the only work with the first-team offense — in what may be a sign of how secure the starting job is for Week 1.

Newton only dropped back six times. One of those dropbacks resulted in an interception, which actually came from a well-thrown pass that hit his receiver in the hands before being taken away from him on the way down to the ground.

The 2015 NFL MVP hasn’t done anything all preseason to lose the starting job.

Cam Newton vs. Mac Jones: 2021 NFL preseason
PFF Stat Cam Newton Mac Jones
Dropbacks 21 65
PFF grade 83.5 93.2
Average depth of target 6.5 8.9
Adjust comp. % 70.0% 81.6%
Big-time throw % 4.8% 10.3%
Turnover-worthy play % 0.0% 0.0%

*Data from Week 3 is pending review

Mac Jones was next up, but unlike previous games when the first-team offensive line stayed with him for a period, the rookie quarterback ran with a full second-team offense tonight. The difference was significant.

Jones still looked sharp and made multiple big-time throws without any catastrophic errors, but he was under more pressure than previous games and took a couple of ill-advised sacks.

The rookie passer completed 10-of-14 pass attempts for 156 yards and his first passing touchdown of the preseason. He looks ready to start sooner rather than later.

Running backs

Damien Harris played seven snaps as the starter, carrying the ball four times for 29 yards, 11 of which came after contact.

After the starters left the field, Rhamondre Stevenson reached the end zone on the ground but was largely bottled up and held to 23 yards on five attempts.

J.J. Taylor was the one back to get consistent production, rushing for 51 yards on six attempts.


Second-year receiver Kristian Wilkerson led the team in receiving snaps (26) and yards (72), forging a quick connection with Mac Jones at quarterback for some important first downs.

Receiver Routes Run Targets/Receptions Yards
Isaiah Zuber 25 5/4 50
Devin Asiasi 25 4/4 64
Kristian Wilkerson 27 4/4 72
Jakobi Meyers 5 3/1 6
Tre Nixon 13 3/2 11
Offensive Line

The starting offensive line played just nine snaps before taking a seat on the bench and letting the second-team take it the rest of the way.

Though Mac Jones was under pressure more than in previous games, the pressure was coming late in the play and was as much on the coverage. Yodny Cajuste was the only Patriots offensive lineman who allowed more than one pressure.

Mac Jones: Percentage of dropbacks under pressure, 2021 NFL preseason
Week Dropbacks Pressured dropbacks Pressure %
1 22 7 31.8%
2 22 3 13.6%
3 21 8 38.1%
Defensive Line

Josh Uche caused havoc once again. He came up with an early sack by getting around Andrew Thomas and taking down Daniel Jones, who got stuck at the top of the pocket.

The Patriots pass-rusher played 13 snaps, 10 of which were spent rushing the quarterback, and he recorded three total pressures pending grade review.


Ja’Whaun Bentley played 20 snaps and made multiple impact plays early in the game. He picked up a sack as part of a collapsing pocket around Daniel Jones and notched two defensive stops overall.


New acquisition Shaun Wade was enjoying a solid game at cornerback before almost becoming the villain late on when he got physically dominated for a last-gasp touchdown that gave the Giants a chance to tie the game with a 2-point conversion attempt.

Wade had forced one incompletion before that play.

PFF's 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit includes links to every article, tool and chart to best prepare you for your fantasy football draft. This will be updated regularly between now and Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.

New York Giants


Daniel Jones received a lengthy workout in the final preseason game, getting 39 snaps before taking a seat on the bench. It was an eventful game for him, too, as he was under significant duress from the Patriots from the outset.

Big mistakes have blighted Jones’ career in the NFL so far, and he threw a bad interception in the end zone, putting the ball back across his body, trying to sync up with his receiver and cut against the flow of the chasing defense.

The third-year quarterback committed another turnover-worthy play later, leaving a pass behind his intended receiver on an out-route and allowing the cornerback to break it up.

Jones did rebound and showed some good play before the half, notably hitting his tight end up the seam for a touchdown.

Running backs

With Saquon Barkley still watching from the bench (in pads), Devontae Booker is the clear primary backup and got 23 snaps with the starters in the first half.

Booker carried the ball seven times for just 14 yards behind a line that was failing to generate much movement. Ten of his 14 rushing yards came after contact tonight.

Player Attempts Yards Yards before contact per attempt
Devontae Booker 7 14 0.57
Elijhaa Penny 4 35 4.00
Corey Clement 4 24 1.25
Gary Brightwell 4 10 0.00

Sterling Shepard was the team’s clear No. 1 receiver in this game, playing 36 snaps with the starters and leading the team in targets (six) and catches (five).

Shepard gained 23 yards after the catch and 15 after contact with the ball in his hands.

Offensive Line

The Giants' offensive line struggled early, with last year’s first-round pick Andrew Thomas continuing to look overmatched. Thomas pass blocked for 28 snaps and coughed up two sacks, a hit and multiple other lost reps. 

Defensive Line

Dexter Lawrence showed the kind of impact playmaker he can be in the middle of the defensive line for the Giants. He played 14 total snaps and made two defensive stops, showing good awareness of screens and limiting the space to fit the ball in to running backs.


Blake Martinez made one of the plays of the preseason for his interception. He turned and ran the seam with a wide receiver only to take the ball away from him on their way to the ground after Cam Newton had delivered a well-thrown ball into the coverage. 


Sixth-round rookie Rodarius Williams continued to have an incredibly active preseason. He played 32 snaps, the most among all Giants' defensive backs. He made four total tackles and forced two incompletions from three targets into his coverage.


Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit