By Traci McCartney // @traciamc
Patriots 19 – Buccaneers 14
Thursday Night Football has historically not provided us with entertaining games. Two teams, both usually on a short week, duke it out on the nationally televised stage. After a heartbreaking loss at home to the Carolina Panthers last week, mainly credited to the poor performance of the offensive line and communication issues on the defense, the New England Patriots headed to Tampa Bay to take on Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers.
The Patriots emerged the victors, and there were definitely some good elements to the game, but there is still a lot of work to do to make this team better. The Patriots, who are used to being at the top looking down in the AFC East division standings, are in a 3 way tie for first place with the Buffalo Bills, who have been playing good football, and the New York Jets. Some thoughts from the Patriots’ win over the Buccaneers:
Tom Brady – He threw his first interception of the season (his first in 265 pass attempts) on the Patriots’ first drive of the game and had a strip sack/fumble later in the game. Despite that, Brady went on to go 30 for 40 and threw for 303 yards under pressure almost the entire game.
Stephen Gostkowski – The kicker went 4 for 4 on field goal attempts, scoring 12 of the Patriots’ 19 points, 2 of them short kicks, but 2 of them over 40 yds with a long of 48 yards.
Receivers – No Rob Gronkowski meant Brady had to rely on his wide receivers and receiving backs for passing yards, and they did well. Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks each had over 70 yds receiving and James White had a respectable 57 yds.
Patriots Bounce Back from a Heartbreaking Loss to the Panthers – Last week’s loss was tough in a number of ways: the loss was at home, the Panthers won on a last second field goal, the defense played abysmally. So for them to bounce back and win on the road, in Tampa Bay where Brady has never won, was a victory in itself.
Offensive Line – Once again, the offensive line didn’t do a good job of protecting Brady. Both Marcus Cannon and Nate Solder were beat often, resulting in 3 sacks, one of which caused a fumble which was recovered by Tampa Bay. Luckily, that drive ended in a missed field goal, so the Bucs didn’t get any points. But, Brady was pressured and hurried all night causing at least one errant throw to Hogan in the 4th quarter. Not good.
No Rob Gronkowski – Gronk was a late addition to the injury report with a thigh injury. This is the second injury of the season – he was taken out of the New Orleans Saints game with a groin injury. He needs to stay healthy and active. Dwayne Allen is in no way a sufficient substitute.
Penalties – The Patriots had 12 penalties called for 108 yards. Some of the penalties were more costly than others.
Nate Solder was called on a ticky tack call for holding in the first quarter, but was then called for a personal foul on an illegal peelback block.
In the Bucs’ 4th drive of the game, after an offensive holding penalty, Jameis Winston was faced with a 3rd and 20 and threw an incomplete pass. But there were two penalties on the play: an offsides penalty on Cassius Marsh (which was declined) and a costly illegal use of hands, hands to the face penalty on Deatrich Wise, continuing the drive and allowing the Bucs to get into the end zone for a touchdown.
Later in the game, the Patriots were called for 2 roughing the passer penalties in a row…again on Wise and Marsh respectively.
Brandon Bolden was called for offsides on a 3rd and 6 which again would have ended a Buccaneers drive and Danny Amendola was called for an offensive pass interference. The penalties were rounded out with an illegal shift penalty, not something we are accustomed to see in a good Patriots team.
Nick Folk – I know this is a Patriots’ centric story, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Bucs’ kicking woes, continuing with their current kicker, Nick Folk. Folk missed all 3 field goal attempts, including a short 31 yarder. I have to echo my Our Turf Football colleagues: Kickers…they have ONE JOB.
The Patriots hope to start a winning streak and will be on the road this week to take on the division rival 3-2 Jets. #We’reOnToNewYork
Talk Patriots with Traci on Twitter // @traciamc