The New England Patriots wanted to see an improvement from their defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the first half was a clear improvement over prior games. The Patriots lead the Buccaneers 10-7 at the half.
Tom Brady and the Patriots offense led off the game with 22 yards on 4 plays before Brady missed a wide open Chris Hogan and threw right into the arms of Buccaneers safety Justin Evans. It was Brady’s first interception of the season and ruined a nice opening drive.
Surprisingly, the Patriots defense forced a punt on 4 plays and the offense got the ball right back. Brady found Brandin Cooks for what should’ve been a first down, but a bad drop left the offense with a three-and-out. New England forced punts on the Buccaneers next two drives in what has to be one of the defensive highlights of the season. Three straight punts!
That third punt forced the Patriots to start on their own 2-yard line, but Brady led an impressive 13-play, 89 yard drive that stalled in the red zone. Stephen Gostkowski connected on the 27-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Buccaneers responded with a long drive that benefit from some terrible run defense by the Patriots. New England forced Tampa into a third-and-20 from the Buccaneers 33-yard line and forced a stop in what should have resulted in a 50-yard field goal attempt.
Unfortunately, Cassius Marsh was offsides and Deatrich Wise commit a costly hands-to-the-face penalty. That call against Wise resulted in an automatic first down for the Buccaneers and Tampa started to run the ball again, with Doug Martin eventually finding the end zone for a 7-3 Buccaneers lead.
Brady went right back to work and found James White for 3 catches and 43 yards, Brandin Cooks for 19 yards, and Danny Amendola for 17 yards, before finding Chris Hogan for a 5-yard touchdown pass and a 10-7 lead.
The Patriots defense forced another three-and-out thanks to a sack by Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy and a near-interception by Duron Harmon, giving the offense another chance to score before the half. Amendola returned the punt to the Buccaneers 42-yard line and an unsportmanlike penalty against Tampa moved the ball to the 27-yard line with 2:13 left in the half.
Unfortunately, the Patriots offense stalled inside the 10-yard line again and New England settled for a field goal and a 13-7 lead.
Tampa Bay started their final drive of the half with 35 seconds left on the clock from their own 22-yard line, but a pair of horrendous roughing the passer calls against Deatrich Wise and Cassius Marsh moved the Buccaneers to the Patriots 38-yard line and a last second field goal attempt. Fortunately it was wide and the Buccaneers couldn’t capitalize on the field position.
Brady is 18 of 22 (81.8%) for 169 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception in a short-pass type of night against the Buccaneers zone defense. James White leads the Patriots with 6 receptions for 54 yards, while Danny Amendola has 6 catches for 50 yards. Brandin Cooks (2 for 36) and Chris Hogan (4 for 29 and a touchdown) has the other receptions.
The tight ends have not seen a target all night and the offensive line has really struggled at times.
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is a quiet 8 of 16 (42.9%) for 71 yards and a few near interceptions. Wide receiver Mike Evans has 3 receptions for 26 yards and no other player had more than 1 reception until Charles Sims collected a pair of dump offs before the half. Doug Martin has 55 rushing yards and a touchdown on 7 attempts.
Patriots safety Patrick Chung and cornerback Stephon Gilmore are having their best games of the season. Wise is having arguably his worst.
Tampa Bay gets the ball after the half.