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Snap Judgments: Patriots edge Bucs as Tom Brady looks sharp again

08.16.13 at 11:14 pm ET
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Stevan Ridley bolts for a first down Friday against the Bucs. (AP)

Stevan Ridley bolts for a first down Friday against the Bucs. (AP)

FOXBORO — No concerns about Tom Brady’s knee, as the quarterback started Friday night against the Buccaneers and looked very sharp leading the Patriots past Tampa, 25-21, in the second preseason game for both teams.

Brady went 11-for-12 for 107 yards and a touchdown, while Shane Vereen was the leading offensive option for the Patriots, ending the night with four carries for 29 yards and four catches for 46 yards. In addition, Danny Amendola had six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, the Bucs got a relatively nice night from rookie Mike Glennon, who played the bulk of the game after coming in relief for starter Josh Freeman. Glennon went 12-for-22 for 121 yards with two touchdown passes and one interception.

There will be a temptation to look too much into this game. Don’t do it. These two teams play again in five weeks for real — no one was interesting in tipping their hand too much Friday night, at least from a personnel/scheme perspective. With that being said, here are a few quick notes on the game:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

•In the end, there were absolutely zero questions left when it came to the state of Brady’s left knee. As was the case last week against the Eagles, the quarterback was astoundingly accurate: In his two series against the Bucs, the Patriots came away with two scores, a touchdown on the first sequence, an artfully executed series that ended with a perfectly delivered 26-yard strike to Amendola where he found the receiver over the middle. (His best pass of the night likely came when he gently floated one to massive rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld in the far corner of the end zone that allowed New England to pick up their first two-point conversion of the night.) In his two preseason games, he’s a combined 18-for-20 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, and has played 39 snaps.

Ryan Mallett was mostly on the good side, including a nice sequence at the end of the first half that would have resulted in at least three points if New England weren’t flagged for a pair of penalties that turned a 35-yard field goal attempt into a 50-yarder that was missed by Stephen Gostkowski. (Vereen had a drop on the drive that could have gotten the Patriots even closer.) He ended the game 12-for-20 for 137 yards and a touchdown (on 24 total snaps), and while it won’t completely silence his critics, it was an improvement on his final stat line from the preseason opener against the Eagles.

•The Patriots front four had a good start, coming away with four sacks in the first quarter-plus and dominating the Tampa offensive line. Brandon Spikes (two sacks), Chandler Jones (two) and Rob Ninkovich (one) all had sacks in the first half, and all played a major role in limiting the Tampa Bay offense to -1 yards of total offense through the first 1 1/2 quarters.

•Rookie cornerback Logan Ryan got a lot of time in the first half and into the second, and came away with one of the best defensive plays of the night when he took an interception back for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. After dropping what would have been a sure pick last week against the Eagles, Ryan has started to show up more and more on the radar in a positive fashion — he had a similarly nice read on a ball that he picked off in practice on Wednesday. He’s not a starter, but he’s certainly pushing his way up the depth chart.

WHAT WENT WRONG

•Another rough night for special teams, including a sequence at the end of the half where two penalties (holding and false start) turned a 35-yard field goal into a 50-yard attempt. Gostkowski knocked it off the upright — the Bucs made them pay, as they turned it around quickly for a 37-yard field goal right before the first half. There was a shanked punt, four penalties in all, and to cap it all off, New England also allowed a 63-yard kickoff return. Bad night for Scott O’Brien’s special teamers.

•It didn’t come back to bite them, but the Patriots’ offensive line took a pair of penalties on the opening drive — a personal foul on Logan Mankins and a false start for Ryan Wendell. It didn’t come back to haunt them, but that’s not the kind of thing you want to see from two key members of your offensive line at any time.

•On the injury front, offensive lineman R.J. Mattes went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return.

•The Patriots second-team defense (or most of them, anyway) had a bad series late in the second quarter when Glennon put together a nice nine-play, 65-yard drive that took 4:09 and culminated with a 13-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree over the middle that looked like it was the result of missed communication between cornerback Marquice Cole and a New England linebacker.

•Second-year defensive back Tavon Wilson had a rough sequence at the start of the fourth quarter when he was beaten on three straight plays at the end of a Tampa Bay scoring drive. Wilson has struggled to maintain consistency over the course of the summer, and has been fighting for a spot at the back end of the depth chart. Not the sort of performance that will help when you are battling for a roster spot.

Tim Tebow worked for much of the fourth quarter, and while he was greeted by cheers when he arrived in the game, he struggled. There were several bad throws, including a pick with just over 10 minutes to go that sailed over the head of Kenbrell Thompkins on a play over the middle. (The Bucs turned that into a 23-yard field goal a few plays later.) After the turnover, Gillette Stadium started to empty out.

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