Breathe easy, Patriots fans. Tom Brady suited up and played in the Patriots’ first two drives of Tuesday’s 25-21 win over the Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium. But he didn’t just trot out on the field and go through the motions. He looked good. And that’s a lot more than we can say – once again – about Tim Tebow, who finished the game 1-for-7 for -1 yards and an interception. But enough about the bad! Here are a few players, including Brady, who stood out in the game for positive reasons.
Tom Brady – It’s no surprise to see Brady get it done on the field. After all, he’s been doing it his whole career. But there was added stress Friday night due to Brady leaving Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury. He wore a brace on the knee Thursday in practice, and again during the game. It didn’t look to affect him. Brady finished the game 11-for-12 for 107 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he looked to have great chemistry with new Patriots WR Danny Amendola. Brady and Amendola hooked up six times during the team’s first two drives, including a beautiful 26-yard TD down the middle on a play-action pass by Brady. On the next play, the Pats went for the two-point conversion where rookie TE Zach Sudfeld hauled in a tough grab. Sudfeld made a great 22-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter from Ryan Mallett.
Chandler Jones/Rob Ninkovich – The Patriots’ projected starting defensive line looked very strong in this one. The Bucs offense didn’t get very far in their first three drives, and Jones and Ninkovich were two big reasons. The two provided constant pressure, but a few notable plays stand out. After the Bucs picked up a first down on the ground in their second drive of the game, Jones followed that up with a sack on Bucs QB Josh Freeman. Two plays later, Jones, Ninkovich, and Brandon Spikes (who also played well) closed in on Freeman for another sack that forced Tampa to punt. Ninkovich was first to get to Freeman, but didn’t get any credit for a sack. He would on the next drive, as he came around the edge once again got to the QB. All in all, it was an unsurprising but good-to-see showing from the two linemen.
Jamie Collins – When the Patriots used their first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on linebacker Jamie Collins, the collective reaction around New England was, “Huh?” Collins was relatively unknown in college – at least from a national standpoint – and he wasn’t on many Pats pundits draft radar. Well, he’s on their radar now. Collins played solid for the Pats in Week 2, coming up with a number of key plays in different positions. He finished the game with six tackles, one for a loss. Collins rocked WR Kevin Ogletree late in the second quarter, knocking the ball out of his grasp in what would have been a completion. In the third quarter, he blitzed and stopped Bucs RB Mike James for a loss of one.