Nearly like that third date. You've got to give him a chance. Some receivers, including Cooks, Amendola and Chris Hogan, did have nice games, but Tom Brady needs to know he can trust all of his receivers. Starting on their two-yard line, They faced two long first downs on the trip and was able to move the sticks. A lot of that had to do with the Patriots sacrificing tighter coverage to prevent big plays and protect their fourth quarter lead. The Patriots have to be happy that the Buccaneers stopped running the ball, as they had no answer for the reinstated Doug Martin.
The Bucs actually wound up having a 409-406 advantage in total yards. If they would win a close game against a team like New England, they might learn to develop a culture of their own. Needing a touchdown instead of a field goal, the Bucs were forced to cover more field in the final minute. Gostkowski would connect on a 23-yard attempt to expand the lead 13-7. That ugly performance came on the heels of missing two field goals and an extra point last week. (Deion Sanders pointed this out during the post game show last night) The Bucs still point up yards on the defense which was expected, but they still kept the Tampa Bay offense to a stand still.
The Patriots look to bounce back from a last-second loss against the Carolina Panthers after a short week, as they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night. Will Clarke would recover the loose ball. Alan Branch didn't make the trip to Tampa, which makes one wonder if his time in a Patriots' uniform is coming to an end. Still down nine with 5:04 remaining in the fourth quarter, Folk lined up for a 31-yard field goal and sliced it well wide to the left, the finishing touches on a night to forget.
If you're a Pats fan looking for a silver lining, Devin McCourty had a great game, allowing just three completions on six targets for 16 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Then Buccs would convert three straight first down's on first-and-ten. New England opened as a 5-point favorite but the line was bet up to 5.5 earlier this week before settling back down at 5. But they couldn't make field goals, and in the end, that was the difference in the game.
This could be a wrinkle that brings more stability to New England's defense, though Patriots players would not comment on whether they would like to see that tactic used more in future games. It's hard to consistently win games if a team loses the turnover battle.
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs) was declared out of the Thursday night game in Tampa despite practicing all week and the end of the previous week on a limited basis.
Three of New England's defensive starters had Alabama football roots. The Patriots survived Thursday night.