Buccaneers vs. Patriots: Live Grades and Analysis for New England

Sterling Xie@@sxie1281Correspondent IISeptember 22, 2013

The Pats D suffocated the Bucs, holding Tampa to three points.
The Pats D suffocated the Bucs, holding Tampa to three points.Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The New England Patriots moved to 3-0 with their most impressive all-around performance so far, thumping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-3.  

Check out the final grades and analysis below.


Tampa Bay - 3

New England - 23


Game analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: The final numbers still aren’t pretty, as Tom Brady finished with just 225 yards, including a bad red-zone pick. But the rhythm is getting there with the rookie receivers, a tremendously important takeaway. It’s not perfect, but with reinforcements coming, the fervor should be considerably subdued in Foxboro this week.

Run Offense: The Pats decided to get LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden some work, as Stevan Ridley received just one carry in the second half. Bolden’s 46-yard scamper got the half off to a good start, and with the passing game rejuvenated, most of the second-half work centered around late clock-killing.

Run Defense: Doug Martin had some decent success in limited carries, but with the game out of hand, Tampa’s dynamic back was never really a factor in the second half. Again, great effort to take away the Bucs’ best weapon.

Pass Defense: Four fourth down stops embodied what was another impressive day for the Patriots pass defense. The secondary never conceded the big plays needed for Tampa to come back, something that has been missing in recent seasons.

Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski made a pair of second-half field goals, and the punt coverage held up without Pro Bowl gunner Matthew Slater. Except for Blount’s stubborn presence on kick returns, no complaints here.

Coaching: The first-half offensive adjustments were what allowed the Pats to blow this game open. One wrinkle: There was an occasional shift from 4-2-5 nickel to 3-3-5, giving rookie Jamie Collins some snaps.


Kenbrell Thompkins had 2 TDs as the rookie receivers looked much better.
Kenbrell Thompkins had 2 TDs as the rookie receivers looked much better.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

First-half analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: After a rough start, it appears Tom Brady has finally developed a little chemistry with his receivers. Aaron Dobson has four catches, while Kenbrell Thompkins caught his first two career touchdowns in the second quarter. Some definitive and encouraging signs of progress here.

Run Offense: The “11” personnel package brought on Tampa’s nickel D opening up running lanes in the second quarter, with Stevan Ridley looking explosive on the first touchdown drive. A heavy three-man rotation with Ridley, Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount should keep the backs fresh.

Run Defense: After two quiet games, Brandon Spikes is back to his old thumping ways. Spikes and the Patriots have limited Doug Martin to 3.8 yards per carry, with his longest run at just eight yards. Good job of forcing Josh Freeman to beat the Pats.

Pass Defense: Mike Williams has given the Pats some trouble but has yet to make a game-breaking play. The Bucs entered New England territory on their first four drives but came away with just a field goal. Classic example of bend-but-don’t-break defense.

Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski tied his career long with a 53-yard field goal at the gun. And though it’s becoming a broken record, you have to ask: Why is LeGarrette Blount on kick returns?

Coaching: Josh McDaniels finally found a workable package, and it’s paid off with two touchdown drives. Great in-game adjustment that has made the offense reminiscent of recent seasons.