Patriots shake off slow start to cruise to win over Buccaneers

 

The Patriots offense showed up about 15 football minutes late on Sunday, but the important thing is that they did show up.

The Buccaneers came out on the attack in the first quarter — despite the lack of points to show for it — controlling much of the game clock on offense.

But when the second quarter rolled around, the Pats woke up and the defense remained strong. New England scored the game’s final 23 points en route to a 23-3 win over the Bucs to improve to 3-0 on the season.

Three things we learned …

1. Maybe they can play after all

The talk surrounding the Patriots over the first two weeks of the regular season was about the Patriots receiving corps, specifically the rookie wide receivers. Things got so bad that some (delusional) fans wondered if Terrell Owens could actually help. Maybe that talk will die down a bit. Aaron Dobson led the Patriots with seven receptions for 52 yards and fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins made his three receptions for 41 yards count as two were hauled in for touchdowns. It was not perfect but it was the best showing we’ve seen out of them, as Brady finished the day 25-of-36 for 225 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

2. Defense wins championships

For the third straight week, the Patriots defense more than did their part to help add another “W” to the record. New England’s defense looked a little shaky to start things off, but as they’ve been known to do over the last few seasons, they got stronger as the opponent got closer to the end zone. Tampa never got in. And when the Bucs elected to go for it on fourth down, the Patriots stopped them four different times. Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman was 19-of-41 for 236 yards and an interception, while running back Doug Martin was held to 88 yards on 20 carries — much of which came with the game relatively out of reach.

3. Running into problems

Stevan Ridley had another forgettable performance. It was thought Ridley would take a big leap as the feature back this season for the Patriots, but on Sunday he rushed the ball just 11 times for 35 yards. LeGarrette Blount actually led the team with 14 carries for 65 yards. Confidence shown toward Ridley is something to keep an eye on going forward.


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