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Ryan Mallett throws pick-six, Pats still lead

08.18.11 at 10:03 pm ET
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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.

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