|08.18.11 at 10:49 pm ET|
The Patriots beat the Bucs, 31-14, Thursday night in Tampa. New England started fast ‘ when it was the starters against the starters, it was no contest, as the Patriots took a 28-0 halftime lead and never looked back on the way to their second preseason win in as many games. Here’s a quick look at what happened.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE PATRIOTS
‘¢The starting New England offense had virtually no problems on the night, coming away with a 28-0 halftime lead. Thanks in large part to the work of quarterback Tom Brady (who finished 11-for-19 for 118 yards and two touchdowns ‘ one to Aaron Hernandez and one to Chad Ochocinco), the Patriots’ starters moved up and down the field without impunity for much of the first half. While there were some early struggles getting on the same page with Ochocinco (who could be seen getting an earful from coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines early on), Ochocinco ended up with two catches for 14 yards in his New England preseason debut.
‘¢The Patriots’ pass rush: New England was able to get some sustained pressure on Tampa quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson throughout the first half. The Patriots flashed a variety of looks at defensive tackle in their four-man front, but outside, it was a lot of Andre Carter. The former 49er and Redskin looked to have a high motor while he was in there, leading a serious charge that had the Bucs’ quarterbacks on the run for much of the first half. In addition, Jerod Mayo was immense, coming away with two sacks, five tackles and three quarterback hits.
‘¢The New England running game: Using a combination of Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley and Sammy Morris, the Patriots were able to chew up serious chunks of yards on the ground all night. The highlight came early when Woodhead ripped off a 29-yard gain on the ground where he made some big yardage on a busted play. Woodhead went right, saw the play get blown up, and darted back left, seeing an opening and taking the ball all the way down to the Tampa 22, setting up the Patriots first touchdown of the night.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE PATRIOTS
‘¢If you’re looking for a downer, it might be on special teams, specifically punt returns and coverage. Without Julian Edelman and Taylor Price, the Patriots ended up going with Jeremy Ross and Buddy Farnham on punt returns, neither of whom exactly seized the opportunity presented to them. As for the rest of the special teams unit, Sergio Brown was flagged for a horse collar tackle on punt coverage, while Woodhead was just crushed by Tampa’s Devin Holland on punt coverage midway through the fourth quarter.
‘¢The injury to safety Bret Lockett makes a difficult situation at safety even tougher. Lockett was carted off the field in the second quarter with what was either a thigh or groin injury, and New England now has three healthy safeties ‘ Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung and Brown. As was the case in the preseason opener against the Jags, Farnham was on the field playing safety at the end of the game.
|08.18.11 at 10:03 pm ET|
If the two quarters between the Patriots and Buccaneers were about New England veterans scoring, the third was certainly about Pats’ rookies turning the ball over. At any rate, the Pats still hold a 31-7 lead.
Third-round quarterback Ryan Mallett displayed an ability to put more touch on the ball and it led to a touchdown, but unfortunately it was a 69-yard interception return for Elbert Mack. With nowhere to go but up following an ugly play in which he didn’t face substantial pressure, Mallett began looking more like quarterback who outperformed Blaine Gabbert in the preseason opener. Mallett later quarterbacked a drive that ended with a 44-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkwoski. He is 9-of-12 for 71 yards and the interception after starting the second half for the Pats.
Running back Stevan Ridley, the Patriots’ other third-round pick in April’s draft, had his first fumble of the season, as he coughed it up on a fourth-and-1 play. The ball was recovered by Bucs’ linebacker Adam Hayward.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer, who threw just one pass in the first half, came back in the game late in the third quarter and nearly threw an interception of his own. Hoyer was looking for Matthew Slater but saw his pass go just off the fingertips of Tampa cornerback D.J. Johnson.
Nate Solder is done for the night, with Steve Venari sliding in at left tackle.
|08.18.11 at 9:09 pm ET|
The Patriots shouldn’t have much to complain about in Tampa, as they lead the Bucs, 28-0, at halftime. The Pats have touchdowns Aaron Hernandez, Chad Ochocinco and a pair of rushing scores from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Buccaneers missed a 47-yard field goal with one second remaining in the half.
Thus far, Tom Brady is 11-of-19 for 118 yards on the night with a pair of passing touchdowns, while Brian Hoyer completed the only pass he threw. Rookie Nate Solder has been in at left tackle for all of the Patriots’ offensive drives. He was beaten late in the second quarter, leading to a sack of Brady deep in the Patriots’ end.
There were a couple of scary plays for the Patriots in the second quarter. After a play in which Brady was pressured and both he and Nate Solder went down in odd fashion, the Patriots were forced to punt for the first time (they punted a second time late in the second quarter). It was on that play that safety Bret Lockett appeared to go down with a groin or thigh injury. Should the injury keep him out significant time, the Patriots may end up regretting not retaining another UCLA safety in Jarrad Page. Rookie Sergio Brown, an undrafted safety out of Notre Dame, looked good in the second quarter.
The second quarter saw the second sack of the night for Jerod Mayo. The fourth-year linebacker has seemed to thrive in the 4-3 thus far, an indication that big things could be ahead for a player coming off his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl season. Andre Carter has shown great burst as a pass-rusher, and he pressured Josh Johnson into throwing a pass that was nearly intercepted by Rob Ninkovich.
Green-Ellis has gotten the majority of the carries for the Patriots, but it’s Danny Woodhead who leads the Pats with 63 yards on the ground on just five carries. Green-Ellis has 42 yards, while Sammy Morris has one carry for three yards.
Wes Welker leads the Patriots with 56 receiving yards on five catches. Hernandez has 42 yards on three catches (all in the first quarter), while Ochocinco has two catches for 14 yards. Both Green-Ellis and rookie tight end Will Yeatman each have one catch.
|08.18.11 at 8:18 pm ET|
After forcing a three-and-out on the first drive of the game, the Patriots’ offense and Aaron Hernandez got off to a much better start than they did last week. After a 28-yard scamper from Danny Woodhead, the Pats came out in a three tight-end set and Tom Brady hit Hernandez for a 17-yard touchdown.
Hernandez had fumbled on the first offensive play of the preseason opener as part of a two-fumble night for the second-year tight end. He was much better in the first quarter in Tampa, catching all there passes thrown his way for 42 receiving yards.
Chad Ochocinco made his preseason debut with the Pats, scoring an easy touchdown in the back of the end zone after he and Brady failed to connect on their first two passes. Buccaneers rookie Mason Foster made helmet-to-helmet contact with Ochocinco as the veteran receiver went to reel in a pass from Brady, resulting in a 59-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
Bill Belichick took Brady out for the beginning of the Pats’ third offensive drive, though Brady came back in later in the drive after Brian Hoyer started it. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who did not play last week, ran up the middle late in the quarter to set up a first-and-goal. He ran it in on the following play to give the Pats a three-touchdown league.
Defensively, the Patriots and their rotating defensive tackles swelled out anything Josh Freeman and the Tampa offense attempted. Linebacker Jerod Mayo picked up the first sack of the night for the Patriots.
|08.18.11 at 7:28 pm ET|
|08.18.11 at 5:28 pm ET|
Both dressed in full uniform last week but did not play as the Patriots blew out the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason opener. Wes Welker is also expected to see action on the offensive side of the ball.
That worked out pretty well as the Patriots piled up 47 points, the most in franchise preseason history, two more than the 45 they dropped on the Redskins on Sept. 4, 1977.
Surprisingly, the Patriots are just 1-7 all time in preseason showdowns with the Buccaneers, with their lone win coming in their first meeting on Aug. 15, 1981 at the old Tampa Stadium, now a parking lot next door to this evening’s venue.
|08.18.11 at 4:44 pm ET|
Fresh off the news that the Patriots had T.J. Houshmandzadeh in for a workout last week, it was reported Thursday that wide receiver Mark Clayton will work out for the Patriots on Friday, according to Aaron Wilson of Scout.com.
Clayton, 29, is a former first-round pick of the Ravens out of from Oklahoma who was traded to the Rams last year. In his career, he has 257 catches and 3,422 yards and 14 touchdowns. Wilson quotes a league source as saying Clayton has made a sound recovery from tearing his patellar tendon in his right knee last year and is on the verge of being ready to play again.