FOXBORO - When you're a late arrival to a team at the end of the preseason, you need to make the most of what few opportunities you might get.
Tiquan Underwood was seemingly on his way to doing that Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
The former Jacksonville receiver, released by the Jaguars and signed by the Patriots a week ago, caught a 9-yard pass from Brian Hoyer with 7:03 left in the first half of the Patriots; 18-17 loss, the first ball thrown his way while wearing the Flying Elvis.
But two plays later, Underwood raced a little late onto the field as part of the punt coverage team, and lined up outside the yard-marker numbers. That's a five-yard penalty - and it negated a fumble recovery by Gary Guyton and a return for a TD by the veteran linebacker that would have put the Patriots up 23-3 at the time.
Underwood hasn't had much time to acclimate himself to his new roles as a Patriot, but that may not be an excuse when the final cuts are made Saturday. He may be back on the waiver wire and looking for another opportunity elsewhere - which, as he acknowledged earlier in the week, is part of the game.
"It's going to happen to each and every one of us at one point," he said, admitting he didn't expect to be let go by the Jaguars so early in this preseason.
"I wouldn't say surprised, but you get down when something like that happens," he said. "But one door closes and another opens, so I'm just looking forward to the next opportunity I have."
He was at Gillette Stadium just a few weeks earlier when the Jaguars visited for the preseason opener, and he said he was duly impressed with the atmosphere surrounding the Patriots.
"Man, just a great team," he said. "You could just see it. They were very crisp when we played them Week One of the preseason and it didn't matter who was catching the ball or having success, you could see that they were all happy for each other and just playing for each other.
"When you think about the Patriots, you think about Coach Bill Belichick and the team. Great tradition here. Winning ball games," he said.
If it is his one and only game as a Patriot, Underwood at least had the distinction of being the team's leading receiver with four catches for 52 yards.
Officially on board
The Patriots officially announced that they had been awarded cornerback Antwaun Molden off waivers from the Houston Texans.
Molden (6-1, 198) is a veteran of three NFL seasons with Houston, originally a third-round draft pick out of Eastern Kentucky in 2008. Molden has played in 31 NFL games, mainly on special teams. He has registered 26 special teams tackles, including 19 as a rookie in 2008.
Bill Belichick's teams have finished .500 or better in 15 of his 17 seasons as a head coach after the 2011 Patriots finished with a 2-2 record. … The Patriots outscored their opponents 105-78, including a 38-19 advantage in the first quarter and a 74-39 advantage in the first half. The team's preseason first-half total includes a 17-3 advantage against the Giants in the first half … BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished the preseason with a team-high four touchdowns, including two against the Giants…
Matthew Slater finished the preseason with three receptions of 40-plus yards, including a 64-yarder from Tom Brady in the first quarter Thursday … Second round picks Ras-I Dowling and Shane Vereen played in their first games of the preseason. Dowling was in the starting lineup at cornerback, while Vereen led the team with 11 rushes for 34 yards … First round pick Nate Solder started at right tackle in place of Sebastian Vollmer. Solder started the first two preseason games at left tackle in place of Matt Light. He also played at right guard briefly … Aaron Hernandez finished with a team-high 16 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown … Stephen Gostkowski connected on his lone field goal attempt against the Giants, and finished a perfect 5-for-5 in the preseason, including a total of 3-for-3 from 40 yards or longer.