By: Steve Balestrieri
The New England Patriots defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25-21 on Friday night in Foxboro to go 2-0 on the pre-season. Quick reactions:
Brady….What Injury?-The big story was that Tom Brady shook off injury concerns and appeared razor sharp for the second week in a row and lead the Patriots to two scoring drives on their first two possessions.
Unlike last week where Brady threw an initial incompletion followed by seven straight completions, this week Brady hit his first 11 passes before having a pass to Danny Amendola sail by the WR’s shoulder. The Pats first possession was a 15 play 80 yard masterpiece by #12 eating up nearly seven minutes of clock and getting a touchdown followed by a two-point conversion to go up 8-0.
Mallett rebounds, Tebow grounded-Ryan Mallett shook off a shaky first series to play well, topped off with a very nice 22 yard touchdown pass to rookie TE Zach Sudfeld. Mallett finished 12-20 for 137 yards with a touchdown. He also put together a nice drive at the end of the first half that had the opportunity to put more points on the board. But a drop from Shane Vereen, then two penalties on the special teams resulted in a missed 50 yard field goal.
Tim Tebow on the other hand had a nightmarish game and this was after a strong showing on Wednesday, putting him back to square one. Tebow finished 1-7 for -1 yard with an interception and a 0.0 QB rating.
He was indecisive; short-armed his throws and was ineffective. Playing the entire second half, and having -1 yards passing is not going to get it done. Worse was that the young WRs got little work in the entire second half. Count that down as wasted opportunity for all involved.
First Team Defense Steps Up-Making a continuation from their strong showing on Wednesday, the defense got off to a roaring start and registered four sacks in the first half and when they left the game after a quarter and a half, Tampa’s starting offense had generated zero yards of offense.
Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich at DE were providing an excellent push at the edge and the Patriots mixed up the Bucs front line as well as Freeman. In a new twist, the team played MLB Brandon Spikes outside in the “Money” position in sub-packages and he blitzed off the edge resulting in a sack.
Logan Ryan Gets Snaps and a TD-The rookie CB from Rutgers, Logan Ryan got a lot of looks and plenty of snaps (66 of 71) on Friday and came away with a highlight reel play. Ryan correctly diagnosed a Mike Glennon pass, jumped the route and got a clean interception that he returned 53 yards pick six in the third quarter. He made a similar play during Wednesday’s practice. Chalk it up to seeing the same play and recognizing the intent…nice work for the rookie who continues to improve.
Special Teams Again Disappoint-For the second week in a row, the special teams units laid an egg. They allowed returns of 40 and 63 yards, opened precious little room for their own returners and then committed two penalties back to back that resulted in a missed 50 yard FG.
Ryan Allen booted a 50 yard punt out of the endzone and then trying to directional punt another got only a 35 yard effort. On a night that had a lot to be positive about, the special teams were a black mark for the coaching staff.
Danny Amendola- six catches for 71 yards and a highlight reel 26 yard touchdown on a laser from Brady. And the most impressive thing, Amendola did it all in just two possessions at the start of the game.
Zach Sudfeld- The rookie is really making his presence felt, first he made a tough catch from Brady to score a two-point conversion in the end zone, and then with Ryan Mallett in at QB, Sudfeld made an even better play on Mallett’s 22 yard strike down the seam for a touchdown.
Jamie Collins- The rookie linebacker playing OLB in a 3-4 look during the second half was impressive, displaying good strength in the run game and providing solid coverage in the secondary. The rookie continues to grow from day to day.
Tim Tebow- Went 1-7 for -1 yard with an INT…..nuff said.
Tavon Wilson-Had a night he’d rather forget, and for a guy who is sliding down the depth chart, not the kind of performance you were looking for.
Got flagged for a holding penalty that gave the Bucs a fresh set of downs inside the Patriots 10 yard line, then gets beat on consecutive plays to give a touchdown.
Special teams- Awful night again…returns allowed of 40 and 63 yards, see above.