EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — With a “Deflategate” suspension days away, Tom Brady played the first half in the New England Patriots’ preseason finale against the New York Giants.
Brady completed 16 of 26 passes for 166 yards, a touchdown and an interception as New England took a 6-3 halftime lead. He was sharpest on his fourth series, leading the Patriots team on a nine-play, 77-yard drive. The two-time NFL MVP hit 6 of 7 passes and scrambled for 10 yards on the march, which ended with a 7-yard TD toss to a wide-open Keshawn Martin.
The 39-year-old Brady had New England at the Giants 19 on the next series after a 38-yard pass to Aaron Dobson. However, running back D.J. Foster fumbled a screen pass two plays later, ending the drive. Brady took a knee on the final play of the half.
Brady begins a four-game suspension Saturday for his role in the use of deflated footballs in the 2014 AFC championship game. The three-time Super Bowl MVP won’t be eligible to rejoin the active roster until Oct. 3, leaving the team in the hands of Jimmy Garoppolo.
Brady’s absence will mark the first regular-season games he’s missed since 2008, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the season opener.
The last time Brady played in a preseason finale was 2014, when he held for an extra point just to see if he can do it. His last start in a preseason finale was in 2011, a year the Patriots went to the Super Bowl, and lost to the Giants.
Brady is not allowed to have contact with the Patriots or utilize team facilities during his suspension. The 17-year veteran will be allowed to work with his close friend, personal trainer and health guru Alex Guerrero. They are partners in a sports therapy center near Gillette Stadium.
The Boston Globe has reported that the Patriots have paid the firm to provide nutritional advice to their players.
With the Giants winning the coin toss, Brady had to wait a few minutes before taking the field. His first series lasted four plays and a penalty. It ended at midfield when cornerback Trevin Wade cut in front of Dobson on a quick hook and intercepted.
Brady later hit Chris Hogan for 16 yards and Julian Edelman for 11 in moving the Patriots from their 6 to the 44 before punting. A first-play fumble by tight end Martellus Bennett near midfield ended Brady’s third drive.
The fourth drive started after a fumble by Giants rookie Paul Perkins. After a holding penalty, Brady hit Edelman for 20 and Foster for 30 on a third-down swing pass that showed great touch by the quarterback. Brady even stunned New York on the drive, scrambling for a first down at the Giants 13.
AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Foxborough, Mass. contributed to this report.