FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Blaine Gabbert had an inconsistent NFL debut and his Jacksonville Jaguars teammates didn’t do any better in a 47-12 loss to the New England Patriots in the exhibition opener for both teams Thursday night.
Playing against mostly backups as top players for both teams sat out the game, the Jaguars settled for three field goals on Gabbert’s six possessions. The 10th pick of the draft from Missouri completed 9 of 16 passes for 85 yards. He played the entire first half with starting quarterback David Garrard unavailable because of a back injury.
Another rookie quarterback, third-rounder Ryan Mallett of the Patriots, did better.
The former Arkansas standout played the whole second half and drove the Patriots to touchdowns on his first four series, helping turn a 19-9 halftime lead into a 35-point rout.
Two rookie running backs had productive games for the Patriots. Stevan Ridley, a third-round choice from LSU, scored three touchdowns on two 1-yard runs and a 16-yard pass from Mallett. Richard Medlin, a rookie free agent from Fayetteville, had two 2-yard touchdown runs.
Many top players played sparingly — or not at all.
Among the Patriots who sat out the game were quarterback Tom Brady, receivers Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Chad Ochocinco and defensive linemen Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth. Besides Garrard, Jacksonville starters who didn’t play were running back Maurice Jones-Drew, defensive end Aaron Kampman, tackle Eben Britton and cornerback Derek Cox.
The Patriots started a quarterback who wasn’t drafted, Brian Hoyer. But he spent the past two years with the Patriots and his experience paid off. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 171 yards and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Price in the first half.
Gabbert was replaced by Todd Bouman on Jacksonville’s first possession of the second half.
Mallett completed 12 of 19 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown and played with poise, although he faced few, if any, first-string defenders.
On his first series, he completed 6 of 8 passes for 79 yards, setting up Ridley’s 1-yard scoring run. Then he connected with Ridley for a 16-yard touchdown pass to cap a 67-yard drive.
On the Patriots’ next possession, Mallett threw for 44 of the 80 yards and Medlin got his first touchdown. They didn’t have to work as hard for their next score after Buddy Farnham intercepted Bouman’s pass. That drive went just 31 yards with Medlin carrying for the last 2.
Before the game, Patriots owner Robert Kraft stood on the sidelines as players ran there after coming out of the locker room. Wilfork hugged Kraft, whose wide Myra died of cancer at the age of 68 on July 20.
The Patriots wore a patch with the initials MHK for Myra Hiatt Kraft on their uniforms.
Gabbert led a decent opening drive, moving the team 57 yards in 12 plays. But after a 4-yard completion to Zach Miller for a first down, he was sacked and threw an interception and the Jaguars settled for Josh Scobee’s 41-yard field goal.
Jacksonville failed to get a first down on the next three series, settling for just a 40-yard field goal from Sam Swank.
In two seasons at Missouri, Gabbert threw 40 touchdowns and 18 interceptions and had an 18-8 record. The Jaguars traded with Washington to move up six spots and draft him.
Mallett also was one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, but character issues may have caused him to slide into the third round.
Notes: Ridley ran 16 times for 64 yards and caught seven passes for 47 yards. Richard Murphy led Jacksonville’s rushers with 43 yards in 7 carries. … Second-year Jacksonville running back Deji Karim returned a kickoff 84 yards in the second quarter, but the Jaguars managed just a 29-yard field goal from Scobee that cut the Patriots lead to 13-9 early in the second quarter.