1. The Patriots used Brandon Bolden as their primary third down and receiving back on Sunday, and there were some mixed results. Bolden did have five receptions for 49 yards. However, on the team's opening series, he was overpowered by Buccaneers safety Mark Barron in pass protection on a 3rd and two, which led to a Lavonte David sack.
2. Early in the game, Josh Freeman had some success with one-on-ones on the outside, particularly with either Kyle Arrington or Alfonzo Dennard in coverage. Both cornerbacks would settle down however, with Alfonzo Dennard notably playing a significantly higher snap count than Arrington.
3. We haven't heard much from linebacker Brandon Spikes this year, but he was dominant against the run on Sunday. He did a nice job blowing up a first quarter Doug Martin run. He diagnosed the play quickly from the Mike spot in the base 3-4, and blew up a block by Bucs tight end Nate Byham before taking down Doug Martin for a short gain. Spikes had his best game of the season Sunday, knifing through blocks throughout the game and taking down Doug Martin on several solo tackle situations.
4. Aqib Talib had a nice day Sunday. He shadowed Vincent Jackson when he was in almost exclusively - be it on the outside or in the slot. Jackson did come up with a few catches, but those were more of a result of good playmaking ability on his part than poor coverage on Talib's. He did a nice job in man coverage bumping receivers to throw off their timing. The payoff for Talib came at the tail end of the first half, when his interception of a Josh Freeman pass led to a Patriots field goal.
5. On a 1st and 10 from just over midfield in the second quarter, Tom Brady dropped back to pass on a play action. Both Tampa Bay safeties bit on the play action, leaving both Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins sprinting down the field wide open. Now it looks like, from the television copy, that Brady briefly looked their way. But ultimately, Brady went to his second read, which was tight end Zach Sudfeld, who had three Tampa defenders in the area. The pass hit the ground incomplete. Call it a bad read or whatever you want, but it was a missed opportunity for the Patriots, and not a play that Brady would normally make.
6. A casual observation: The Patriots ran the majority of their plays out of the shotgun formation Sunday, especially in the first half. The Patriots did mix things up however, by running their fair share of runs from the shotgun sets. I didn't track the actual number of times they run from the shotgun, but it seems like the Patriots made an effort to keep Tampa while in the shotgun.
7. Aaron Dobson proved to much more than a deep threat on Sunday, coming up with a lot of catches 0-9 yards in front of the line of scrimmage. His route running looks improved over what it was at during Marshall, and the picked the soft spots in Tampa's zone on a couple of occasions. If Dobson is going to become an every down receiver, he's going to need to move the chains and run routes like he did against Tampa Bay consistently.
8. LeGarrette Blount had a solid statline on Sunday with 65 yards on 14 carries. However, much of the day, he seemed hesitant hitting the hole. And as a result, when he did hit the line of scrimmage, he was much easier to take down than a 250+ back should be. On his longest run of 23 yards, Blount seemed to hit the hole with better burst and decisiveness.
9. Tommy Kelly had a strong overall game and has had a good start to the season for the Patriots. He didn't do anything particularly dominant in the game, but did a good job staying around the ball, cleaning up tackles, and helped push the pocket in the pass rush, even picking up a half sack in the 3rd quarter after beating Bucs RG Davin Joseph one-on-one.
10. Still not sure what to make of Tom Brady's three passes in the Patriots goal-to-go situation on their first drive of the second half. Just poor accuracy on the first two plays, and a terrible decision on the third down interception by Mark Barron. The Patriots moved the ball well in the second half, and in particular, churned up a lot of the clock with the running game, but this was a failed opportunity that will likely haunt Brady this week.