New England Defense Steps Up; Patriots Now 3-0
For the first time since 2007, and for just the third time since Bill Belichick has been Head Coach, the Patriots have started 3-0. Sunday’s win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 23-3, was without a doubt the team’s strongest contest in this early season, and finally the Patriot’s offense seemed to click.
The Patriots started the game with a quick 4 play drive, that included one first down, before being forced to punt in under 2 minutes. After a Bucs missed field goal on the ensuing drive, the Patriots once again were only able to get one first down before punting again, and Tampa Bay scored their only points on a 30 yard field goal from Ryan Lindell.
After the Bucs got ahead of the Patriots, Tom Brady and his core of young receivers again could not anything as they went three and out and were forced to punt for the third time in the first quarter. The game looked like it was heading in the same direction as the first two games of the season, with the Patriots unable to move the chains.
On the next Bucs drive, Tampa Bay had the ball on the New England 34, and decided to attempt a 4th down conversion on a 4th and 5 play. Quarterback Jason Freeman was unable to complete a pass intended for Mike Williams, and the Patriots took control of the ball.
The Patriots offense finally started to click on the drive, and they drove 66 yards and scored on a 16 yard touchdown thrown to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, his second touchdown in as many games, that gave the Patriots a 7-3 lead, and that’s all the offense needed for the rest of the game.
After stopping Tampa Bay on another 4th down attempt, the Patriots had a quick drive that was capped off by another Thompkins touchdown, this time a 5 yard reception. With under a minute to play in the first half, Freeman was intercepted by the former Buc, Aquib Talib, and Gostkowski hit a 53 yard field goal with just 11 seconds left in the half.
After the defense stopped Freeman and the Tampa Bay offense, the Patriots got to the Tampa Bay 6 yard line before Tom Brady made a rare mistake of throwing an interception in the end zone. Brady has only ever thrown 3 interceptions while in the Red Zone at Gillette Stadium in his career. Had Brady been able to punch in another touchdown, they would have padded their lead, and been in great postion, but instead Tampa Bay got the ball trailing by only 14.
As they had done the rest of the game the Patriots defense was in full control. They stopped the Bucs on two more 4th down conversions in the half, and the Bucs ended up going 0-4 on 4th down tries.
Tom Brady went 25-36 in the game with the two touchdowns and one interception, and running back, Brandon Bolden, played a key role for the Patriots by running for 51 yards on just 3 carries. Although the offense was totally dominant for the Patriots they showed major improvement from weeks one and two, and showed that they were able to work on things that weren’t working in their 10 days they had off in between games.
Next week the Patriots play a primetime game against the Falcons in Atlanta, and even though the Falcons are just 1-2, they are a fierce competitor. Atlanta will be the first major challenge for the Pats as they have played against pretty weak offenses in the first 3 weeks. The first two weeks they faced two rookie quarterbacks, and this week they faced Freeman who is on his way out of Tampa Bay.
Tight End, Rob Gronkowski was inactive for the game as well as Danny Amendola, and both could be back as soon as next which would help the offense even more. The Patriots might not be playing great, but they are still finding ways to win.