Entering the final 15 of the 2013 preseason, the Patriots trail the Giants 20-14. Passing along some quick-hit notes and observations following the third quarter.
1. Tebow time. Tim Tebow was under center for the Patriots to start the third quarter, relieving Ryan Mallett after a productive first half. We suspect Tebow will play the balance of the game. He needed just two throws to surpass his completion total from last week, while also taking two sacks on his first drive (his offensive line did him no favors). He finished the quarter with those three completions and four sacks taken.
2. Notable veterans still in. It's tough to say with conviction what veterans playing into the third quarter of the final preseason game means, but we nonetheless made note of a couple who remained in the game. On offense, tight end Daniel Fells received reps, while safety Adrian Wilson was a noticeable defender still on the field. This could be an indication that they're on the roster bubble.
3. Punting competition over? As a sign that the punting competition may have concluded, it was veteran Zoltan Mesko who took all of the first third quarter punt for the Patriots, and he's taken all five of six thus far tonight. Mesko has been the more consistent performer over undrafted rookie Ryan Allen throughout the preseason.
4. Washington muffs return. Veteran Leon Washington had an explosive 43-yard punt return earlier in the game, but his fortunes turned late in the third quarter when he muffed a bouncing punt in his own territory. The normally sure-handed Washington likely regrets trying to handle the punt, as he could have allowed it to roll to safety.
5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties in the third quarter: Cornerback Justin Green (illegal hands to the face, declined) and safety Kanorris Davis (illegal participation).