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Patriots vs. Buccaneers: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 23-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Winslow Townson

There was once a time when it was fairly easy to watch a football game after it had already been played without knowing what the final score was. You simply set your VCR, went out and did whatever it was that was keeping you away from the TV that afternoon, and then came home and watched the tape. Unless you had a bunch of jackasses for friends who knew you weren't able to watch live and decided to drive to your house and leave you a note divulging the result or tracked you down wherever you were to yell out the final score, you almost always came home to a new game and all of the fun, excitement, and mystery that makes football so great.

Today? Not so much.

Live scoring updates and news directly to your phone. Text message conversations happening nonstop. Email pings. Sports bars on every block broadcasting every game from every angle. Drunken degenerates in the streets discussing fantasy matchups. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being unable to watch a football game live (say, driving back from a wedding), to DVR it and come home ignorant of the score requires effort, determination, and a tremendous amount of self-discipline.

So that I made it all the way from Providence, RI to New York City, into my apartment, out of my pants, and into my recliner before an errant Bleacher Report alert let me know that the New England Patriots beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-3 and completely nullified everything I had done to keep the media blackout alive actually isn't a bad effort. I know that my phone should have been off altogether, but I just wasn't able to be away from my work email for that long. Oh well- what can you do.

Today's notes are written from the perspective of someone who watched a game in which he already knew the final outcome. Because of that, I feel like some of the stank that usually accompanies these notes are missing. Sorry about that; I'll try to make up for it next week.

  • What's up with all of these coin toss losses and deferrals? Do you think that has something to do with the early season struggles of the offense so far?
  • I see that Brandon Bolden got the start yesterday. I fear I may have doomed Stevan Ridley for 2013 by drafting him in two fantasy leagues.
  • The initial camera shot as the game got underway showed Gillette Stadium looking a little thin in the stands (it would eventually fill out; the beer must have been pouring a little slower than usual). I hate that my first thought was people were already abandoning this 2-0 team for not winning pretty enough.
  • All of these sacks Brady is taking are really disconcerting. He's as handsome as ever, but he's not young enough to take all these hits.
  • I was so sorry to hear that Tampa was down their two starting tight ends. That must be really hard to overcome.
  • Does Vince Wilfork look a little slimmer than I'm used to? Maybe down to a svelte 320 or so? Maybe it's just me.
  • Really with that closeup of Tommy B after the second failed 3rd down conversion of the day? Is this going to be a thing now? Usually I'm all for closeups of Brady's face, but I don't like the implications there.
  • There was once a time when I would have said that unless your last name is Revis, you shouldn't be covering Vincent Jackson one on one. Just too talented and too physically gifted. We're a dying breed. However, Aqib Talib did a phenomenal job on Jackson yesterday and really opens up the rest of the New England defense with his abilities.
  • I wonder what Doug Martin squats...
  • There was something about Tampa's first and only scoring drive that looked eerily familiar. The Bucs marched down the field at will, but then stalled in the red zone and had to settle for three. Don't know where I've seen that before.
  • And there was something about the ensuing New England drive that looked familiar, too - a quick three and out.
  • Both the offense and the defense eventually got rolling...but there are some games coming up on the schedule that aren't going to allow New England a few possessions to get its act together.
  • I always like it when teams go for it on 4th down, and I'm actually surprised it doesn't happen more often. I obviously like it better when teams going for it on 4th down that are playing the Patriots don't convert, but I really like the call.
  • That said...going for it on 4th and 13 when the game is still in reach makes zero sense to me. That's the kind of thing my buddy Eric does when we play Madden.
  • You know what I like best about Kenbrell Thompkins' first career touchdown catch? He didn't spike it. He just ran back to the sidelines shaking his head, because he knows one touchdown isn't going to suddenly get Tommy B's confidence.
  • Alfonzo Dennard needs to get his head out of the courtroom and back into the game.
  • Whoever decided to make Erin Andrews the spokesperson for One-A-Day Probiotic...I'd like to have a little chat with you. I get why having someone like her would be good for endorsing your product, but there are just certain things I personally don't like to associate with beautiful women. What you have so cleverly called "digestive health" is one of them.
  • I love me some Brandon Spikes. Truck Stick all day.
  • Do you think Bolden and Spikes trade dreadlock care tips?
  • Tommy B is having some accuracy issues here. Some of the throws he made yesterday can't be pinned on rookies not running the correct routes.
  • What WASN'T an accuacy issue, however, was that perfectly placed Go Route to Bolden where Bolden just stopped running. Tommy B almost had a long bomb TD pass to a backup running back against Darrelle Revis.
  • I'm seeing some real improvement on the Aaron Dobson front - not just in regards to the whole "catching the ball" thing, but a few times yesterday he went up for 50/50 balls and tried to make the grab at the pass's highest point. One of those attempts drew a huge PI call that led to Kenbrell Thompkins' second TD of the day.
  • Still no spikes for Thompkins on that TD, either. Straight to the bench and back to work.
  • Doesn't Tommy B gain about 3 yards every time he sneaks it? Stay with me here...3 yards a sneak, 4 downs to get 10 yards, and 3x4=12. Could do worse...
  • Aqib Talib is having himself a helluva season so far.
  • I'm hesitant to say it...but I think that the Patriots may have themselves a pretty solid defense. The pass rush isn't ferocious, but it exists, and the secondary makes plays and creates turnovers. I guess we'll know for sure next week.
  • Hey Ridley...see the way Brady covers that ball up on the QB keeper?
  • Chandler Jones is an absolute animal.
  • I think that John Lynch did a pretty good job overall of calling this game. Mostly kept his mouth shut, didn't feel the need to fill dead air with useless boobery, and most of what he said was relevant. He reiterated a great point about Tom Brady regarding how it can take some time to get him into a rhythm, and it always has; but once he's in one, it's very hard to get him out of it. People have said the same thing about me at Chinese buffets.
  • Whole lotta shotgun yesterday. Brady has always preferred to work out of the shotgun formation, but the snap count was higher than usual.
  • What do you think 10 year old Tommy B did when he lost a Nintendo game? How many smashed controllers did Ma and Pa Brady have to replace?
  • I had to pause that still shot of Bill Belichick with his son Stephen after a Rutgers game that Fox showed midway through the third quarter. He just looked so damn funny and I don't know why. Something about the all black outfit with the ridiculous beanie cap and an uncharacteristic Belichick smile set me off.
  • Stephen Gostkowski had a leg and a half on him yesterday, didn't he?
  • Losing VJax and Mike Williams to injury couldn't have helped things any for Freeman. The Bucs weren't really able to get anything going through the air as the game went on.
  • Martin, however, is one of the most fun backs to watch in the league.
  • I feel like almost every carry LeGarrette Blount got yesterday resulted in him literally stopping in his tracks before trying to find a hole elsewhere. He was the only back to do that, which leads me to believe it's more on him than it is the O Line.
  • It's amazing how much football you can skip over in one chunk after a score when you're watching a prerecorded game. After New England's last points of the day, I was able to shave almost six minutes off my viewing time by skipping the commercial/kick for touchback/commercial sandwich.
  • Rock that hat, Bob Kraft. Rock it like a champ. If anyone can make it cool to wear a baseball cap with a tie, it's you.
  • Anybody know how many of Brady's top targets the Patriots lost this offseason? Nobody seems to know.
  • On the other hand, feel free to display the Brady Six all you want, as much as you want.
  • Saw a cool stat the other day; last week, when the panic dial at Patriots Nation was set somewhere in between "Dismal" and "Suicide," two receivers from two different games ended up having very similar nights. One of them had three catches for 59 yards and a TD with four drops. The other had three catches for 39 yards and a TD with five drops. Receiver number one? Aaron Dobson. Receiver number two? Wes Welker. Glad nobody overreacted.
  • No need to get sloppy just because you have the game in the bag, defense.
  • 3-0 on the year, 2-0 in the division, Gronk on the way back, receivers seem to be on the mend. Sounds good to me.