Halftime analysis: Patriots 17, Bucanneers 3
|09.22.13 at 2:34 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Two quarters are in the books here at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots hold a 17-3 lead on the Bucs. Here are a few quick notes:
• The finest series of the first half for the New England offense came midway through the second quarter when Tom Brady guided the Patriots on an 11-play, 66-yard drive that consumed 5:13 and ended with an impressive 16-yard pass from the quarterback to rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins for the touchdown. (On the score, Thompkins showed a knack for picking up some yards after the catch on the way to the end zone.) On the series, New England got 37 of the 66 yards on passes to Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, and Brady hit Dobson on the third- and fourth-down conversions on the drive.
• The Patriots added a second touchdown on a 10-play, 62-yard drive that took 3:33 late in the second quarter and ended with a five-yard touchdown pass over the middle from Brady to Thompkins. (New England tacked on a 53-yard field goal at the end of the half from Stephen Gostkowski to finish the scoring.) Overall, it was a good start for Dobson (four catches, 35 yards) and Thompkins (2 catches, 21 yards), who combined for six catches on nine targets.
• The Patriots utilized cornerback Aqib Talib in what appeared to be man coverage against Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson. (Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Darrelle Revis looked to be going head-to-head with Thompkins most of the time — he also spent time shadowing Dobson and tight end Zach Sudfeld.) Talib and Jackson spent the entire first half locked up, and it was one of the more enjoyable head-to-head meetings to this point of the season — while Jackson made some amazing catches (including a 19-yarder over Talib that was one of the finest grabs of the year), Talib also had his share of nice stops, including a pass breakup on a play near the goal line near the end of the second quarter and a pick on a bad pass from Josh Freeman just before the half.
• At least in the early going, it was clear that the Patriots were going to stack the box to try and defend running back Doug Martin, while going with the Talib-Jackson matchup in hopes of containing anything through the air. While that worked for most of the first two quarters, the one drawback came when it appeared cornerback Kyle Arrington had some issues while working against Mike Williams, who had three catches for 49 yards in the early going. (Williams also drew a 20-yard pass interference call on Arrington that allowed the Bucs to keep an early drive alive.)
• Kudos to the Bucs for taking some chances early. Tampa went for it on fourth down twice in the first half and came up empty on both occasions, but reinforced the idea that if you want to beat New England, you have to play outside your comfort zone a bit and not be cowed by the Patriots. However, those misses on fourth down would have been a little more palatable if Tampa was able to convert on a 38-yard field goal attempt with just over 10 minutes left in the first quarter. In a game that figures to be close in the second half, it’s a miss that could come back to haunt them.
- The New England Patriots now control their destiny in the AFC playoff...
- 2013 Week 14 Patriots Power Rankings
- New England Patriots Links 12/12/13 - Jamie Collins Growing into...
- Coping With Loss: the Rob Gronkowski Edition
- New England Patriots Links 12/11/13 - Can Mental Toughness Overcome...
- No Lead, No Problem
- Patriots vs. Browns: By the Numbers