|Snap Judgments: Patriots roll over Tampa Bay, 31-14||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.
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