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Saturday, 26 August 2017 16:15

Julian Edelman Injures Right Knee, Tom Brady, Chris Hogan Light It Up, Malcolm Butler Busy, Stephen Gostkowski Kicks Game-Winner

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Julian Edelman gets carted off the field after injuring his knee on Friday night against the Detroit Lions Julian Edelman gets carted off the field after injuring his knee on Friday night against the Detroit Lions AP/Duane Burleson

It was a sight that every Patriots fan dreads and a horrible flashback to the 2009 season finale in Houston.

A wide receiver making a cut and suffering a non-contact knee injury. Wes Welker was lost for the postseason with a torn ACL in 2009. Julian Edelman made a hard cut to his right at the Lions 18-yard line and went down in a heap following his third catch of the night in a 30-28 preseason win over the Lions in Detroit.

After clutching his right leg just below the knee - Edelman was able to hobble off the field. But Edelman, in stunned silence, was taken to a cart and driven off the Ford Field turf and onto the Patriots locker room. He finished with three catches on three targets for 52 yards.

The Patriots announced minutes later that he was officially questionable to return with a knee injury before ruling him out early in the third quarter. Asked about the injury by WBZ's Steve Burton at halftime, coach Bill Belichick said, "I don't know." After the game, Tom Brady met with his close friend in the medical tent.

"We'll see what the extent of it is," Brady said. "We've played together together for a long time. We're all hoping for the best."

Belichick just shook his head when asked after the game if he had any update.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport both reported after the game that the team suspects Edelman tore his ACL but don't know with certainty. An MRI Saturday will determine the severity.

The Patriots blew a 24-0 lead, trailed 28-24, only to have Jimmy Garoppolo lead the Patriots to a pair of field goal drives in the fourth quarter, including a game-winner of 45 yards at the gun for a 30-28 victory, the first in three preseason games for New England.

But the rest of the first half was nearly perfection for Tom Brady and the Patriots. (Click here for a full boxscore.) Brady finished 12-of-15 for 174 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Brady established a remarkably fast tempo from the start of the game. Before the Edelman injury on his third catch, Brady went to Edelman for receptions of 11 and 23 yards as the Patriots marched from their 25 to the Lions 39. Then, after a 7-yard run by Dion Lewis to the 32, Brady went over the middle to Detroit 14 for 18 yards. But just as he got inside the 20, Edelman cut hard on his right knee and went down. He was seen leaving the stadium Friday night, carted to the buses with crutches in his hands.

As Edelman was getting treatment on the sideline, Brady kept marching the team, finding Chris Hogan over the middle for a 7-yard Edelman-like in-route for a touchdown. After Malcolm Butler punched the ball free from Golden Tate, creating a fumble recovery for Jordan Richards at the Lions' 32.

On the next play, Hogan fought cornerback Nevin Lawson for a Brady pass in the end zone and came away with the touchdown. Brady completed 10 of his first 11 passes. Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point and it was 13-0. On the next drive, Brady drove the Patriots down to the Lions 1 on another big crossing pattern to Hogan.

Mike Gillislee, making his preseason debut, punched it into the end zone easily on big blocks from tight end James O'Shaughnessey and fullback James Develin. On the next play, Gillislee ran it in for the two points and a 21-0 lead. Gillislee also broke off a big 27-yard run on the next drive, setting up a 46-yard Gostkowski field goal. It was 24-0 Patriots at the end of the first quarter.

Brady and Hogan had only one regrettable play, a Brady heave to the left corner of the end zone that was intercepted in the second quarter. Hogan, who was double-covered, appeared to stop his route at the goal line. It was Brady's final play of the game.

Defensively, Butler made another big play when he tipped a pass over the middle from Matthew Stafford, allowing Eric Rowe to pick off the ball. Butler's only bad play of the first half occurred when Marvin Jones blew by him down the right sideline for a 23-yard touchdown, cutting the Patriots' lead to 24-7 at the half.

Kony Ealy, the subject of a report that the Patriots are shopping his value on the trade market, played in the second and third quarter. Belichick said before the game to 98.5 the Sports Hub that he had made significant progress in the past three weeks.

Dont'a Hightower and Nate Solder made their debuts in practice this week for the Patriots. But both key starters on each side of the ball were held out Friday night.

Also out were Matthew Slater, Rex Burkhead (who did not practice this week with an undisclosed issue), Malcolm Mitchell, Brandon King, Nate Ebner, Elandon Roberts, Shea McClellin, Jamil Douglas, LaAdrian Waddle, Andrew Jelks, Matt Lengel, Deatrich Wise, Geneo Grissom and Derek Rivers (out indefinitely with a torn ACL).

Another player that made his return this week and did make his preseason debut was running back Mike Gillislee. In addition to his touchdown and two-point conversion, Gillislee finished with eight carries for 38 yards.

As was the case against the Texans six days earlier, the first units of offense and defense started the game.

On defense, Trey Flowers made his debut on the defensive line.

The second team struggled badly in the second half on both sides of the ball. Jordan Richards missed a tackle on a 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The Patriots were not able to score after the first quarter as Jimmy Garoppolo replaced Brady with 1:14 left in the first half.

The Lions came all the way back to take a 28-24 lead on a one-yard TD plunge with 7:21 left in the fourth.

After three consecutive 3-and-outs, Garoppolo led the Patriots down the field. DJ Foster converted a 4th-and-5 with a 13-yard run up the middle to the Lions 12. The Patriots closed to within one, 28-27, on a 25-yard field goal with 3:41 left.

The game marked a homecoming to Michigan for three Patriots, Brady, linebacker David Harris and defensive lineman Alan Branch. All three played at the nearby University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The Patriots will conclude their preseason next Thursday at Gillette Stadium with their traditional exhibition contest against the New York Giants.

Two days later, the Patriots will have to cut their roster down to 53.

Patriots Beat

Patriots Beat is a weekly podcast dedicated to coverage of the New England Patriots.

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