The Patriots, though far from perfection executing on either side of the ball, nevertheless made more plays when it mattered.
Here's what stood out from our vantage point in the Gillette press box Sunday afternoon:
...Early on, the Patriots' defense was giving the Bucs receivers some open passing lanes, but QB Josh Freeman either had trouble hitting them, or the intended receivers dropped the balls that were on target, including what would have been a touchdown in the corner of the end zone on the second Buccaneers drive. Tampa also missed a relatively short field goal attempt on their opening drive. The Patriots were lucky to have been trailing only by three after one quarter.
...New England's defense did have its moments, though. Two weeks running, cornerback
...The New England pass rush is starting to get more consistent pressure on opposing QBs. Patriots front seven defenders combined for three sacks of Freeman on the day.
...There was plenty of pre-game talk about how dissatisfied
...That young receiving group – tight end
...New England's o-line wasn't helping their quarterback much in the early going. Brady was sacked twice in the opening stanza, which led to Patriots punts on both drives. That settled down, though, once New England took the lead.
...Brady made his share of mistakes Sunday as well, including a very bad decision in the second quarter. Two of his receivers, Thompkins and Julian Edelman were left wide open on the left side of the formation, running deep toward the Bucs and zone. Brady looked their way but decided to go to a sideline route for rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld. His pass was poorly overthrown. If Brady had gone to either Edelman or Thompkins, he likely would've had an easy touchdown. Brady made up for the miscue moments later with a touchdown strike to Thompkins on a crossing route in the red zone.
...Brady made some questionable throws on the opening drive of the second half. Deep in Bucs territory, he appeared to rush a throw to a wide-open Dobson in the end zone. A Tampa defender was bearing down on Brady, but it looked like he had time to set himself for a second longer to complete the play. Two plays later, Brady threw a very bad pass into the end zone area again, with no pressure on him, and it went straight to Bucs safety Mark Barron, who secure the second INT thrown by Brady this season. Sudfeld was in the vicinity, and it could very well have been that he cut off his route, but it looked more like a bad throw by Brady.
...So far, I've not seen the so-called “Year-2 jump” from linebacker
...The tight end spot finally made some contributions in the passing game – notable, given the continued absence of
...The aforementioned placekicker also had a memorable day. He connected on all of his points-after and field goals, including one from 53.