NFL

Patriots beat Giants 28-20 in exhibition finale

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)

Tim Tebow's preseason work is done. Now comes the waiting game.

Finishing with a flourish, the player getting so much attention trying just to hang on as a third-string quarterback says he won't fret about whether the Patriots will keep him. All teams must cut their rosters to the regular-season limit of 53 players by Saturday.

''You're just trying to execute every play and improve from weeks past,'' Tebow said after New England's 28-20 win over the New York Giants on Thursday night.

He completed 6 of 11 passes for 91 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with four sacks while playing the entire second half. Both scores went to rookie free agent Quentin Sims in the fourth quarter, a 52-yarder that gave the Patriots the lead and a 9-yard fade to the right corner of the end zone with 6 seconds remaining.

That was Tebow's last play of the game and, perhaps, of his Patriots career that started when he signed as a free agent June 11.

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Here are five things we know from the exhibition season about the Patriots:

QUARTERBACK QUESTION: Coach Bill Belichick has kept just two quarterbacks in three of the past four seasons. So with Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett in front of him, Tebow may be in jeopardy of being let go by his third team in 17 months. ''Whoever we keep will be because of the value they bring to the team,'' Belichick said.

CATCHING ON: The three rookie receivers the Patriots are counting on continue to have their ups and downs. Second-round draft pick Aaron Dobson tipped a ball that was intercepted, fourth-rounder Josh Boyce caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Mallett and free agent Kenbrell Thompkins caught two of the four passes thrown to him.

TO YOUR HEALTH: The Patriots survived the exhibition season relatively unscathed. Starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was sidelined for much of training camp and tight end Rob Gronkowski missed all four games following back surgery. But Dennard may be ready for the opener and Gronkowski could be back early in the season.

AVOIDING DISTRACTIONS: Belichick addressed the arrest of former Patriot Aaron Hernandez on a murder charge the day before training camp and players went about their business with an apparent minimum of distractions. Even the arrival of Tebow, focus of a media frenzy with the New York Jets, was met with much less fanfare.

IMPROVED DEFENSE: The signing of tackle Tommy Kelly and safety Adrian Wilson provides veteran talent to a defense that was vulnerable to big plays and finished in the middle of the pack in the NFL last year.

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Here are five things we know about the Giants:

REPLACING RUNNERS: David Wilson took over as the starting running back when Ahmad Bradshaw was allowed to leave and sign with the Indianapolis Colts. Now the Giants may have to look for another backup after Andre Brown broke his left leg against the Patriots. But Brown says he won't need surgery and hopes to stay on the active roster.

REGULAR RECEIVERS: Hakeem Nicks caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning on Thursday night. Victor Cruz, who missed the last two exhibition games and most of the previous one with a left heel injury, expects to play in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 8.

SUPER BOWL MEMORIES: The Giants went 1-3 in the exhibition season after going 9-7 last year when they failed to defend their Super Bowl championship. But defensive end Justin Tuck anticipates better days. ''Playing back to two years ago is all that I'm concerned about,'' he said. ''We obviously know what it takes to get to the top of the mountain.''

SUB SAFETY: The Giants secondary suffered a blow in the third exhibition game when strong safety Stevie Brown tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, ending his season. Ryan Mundy started in his place Thursday and Antrel Rolle returned as starting free safety after missing time with a sprained ankle.

PROTECTING ELI: Injuries have caused coach Tom Coughlin to shake up his offensive line. James Brewer got his first start at left guard Thursday. Whatever alignment is used in the opener must protect Manning. He threw two scoring passes in the exhibition season and the offense totaled just four touchdowns in four games.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Tagged: Patriots, Giants, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Andre Brown, Tim Tebow, Stevie Brown, Ryan Mallett

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