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Thursday, 05 October 2017 23:23

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: New England Patriots Defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-14

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INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: New England Patriots Defeat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-14 Image via AP, Jason Behnken

After a disappointing first month of the season, the New England Patriots looked to turn things around and avoid falling below .500 for the first time since 2002. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked to make a statement.

Coming off an ugly performance on Sunday, the New England Patriots traveled to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In an ugly game throughout, the Patriots ultimately prevailed. Without a lot of time to prepare for an unfamiliar opponent, the Patriots came out tough and earned the hard fought win.

 

1. Bend, But Don't Break - After the first four games saw some pathetic displays of defense, New England came out and looked a little bit better on Thursday night. Tampa Bay still got their fair share of yardage, but Matt Patricia's unti showed a bit more resistance in the victory. The Patriots heled the Buccaneers to just 4-13 on their third downs. Despite the improvement, New England still allowed over 400 yards of offense. With 10 days now until their next game, there is ample time to scheme up new plays to improve the defense. 

 

2. Where'd You Go? - With Rob Gronkowski inactive, that left just Dwayne Allen and rookie Jacob Hollister as the active tight ends for the Patriots. Allen and Hollister didn't produce anything on offense. With tight end being such a prominent role in the New England offense, getting nothing from the position could be devastating, especially with Julian Edelman out for the season. Due to this, the health of Gronkowski will be a situation to monitor going forward.

 

3. Stepping Up - In case it wasn't already obvious, Danny Amendola has offically staked his claim to Edelman's receptions. Amendola had eight catches for 77 yards in the victory. Those eight catches came on eight targets. Through four games this season, Amendola has 23 receptions, which equals his total from the 2016 season. The increased targets highlight Amendola's newfound importance in the offense.

 

4. Hurting Themselves - One thing that is typical with Thursday night games is sloppy football. Tonight was no different. The Patriots committed 12 penalties for 108 yards. That is very untypicaly for a Bill Belichick coached team. One particular series comes to mind. Late in the first half, rookie Deatrich Wise took a roughing the passer penalty. That was immediately followed up by another roughing the passer call, this time by newcomer Cassius Marsh. That set Tampa Bay up for a field goal attempt, which was missed. While the penalties were sloppy, they can be corrected. Something that should be expected over the next 10 days.

 

5. Rebound Game -  After being the scapegoat in last week's game, Stephon Gilmore responded nicely on Thursday. Due to his size, Gilmore natrually drew the coverage assignment of Mike Evans. While the Patriots played mostly zone on Thursday night, Gilmore did limit the effectiveness of Evans, who had five catches for 49 yards. While trying to lead a comeback, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston didn't look towards Evans which is a testament to the coverage of Gilmore.

 

6. Keep Him Upright - News flash, Tom Brady is 40 and he isn't getting any younger. While that may not seem like a big deal to him, keeping him upright is even more important. To this point in the year, the New England offensive line is failing to protect Brady. In 12 games last season, Brady was sacked only 15 games. Through five games this season, Brady has already been sacked 16 times. That has to improve or Brady may not make it through the season.

 

Extra Point

 

While Rex Burkhead and Gronkowski were inactive for this game, both players are expected to be active for the next game in 10 days. With the offense struggling at times tonight, getting all the bodies they can will be crucial. Burkhead has seen his fair share of playing time early in the season, especially in the passing game. With the New York Jets coming up next on the schedule, getting Gronkowski's blocking ability and Burkhead's effectiveness in the passing game could be big factors next week. 

Billy Wyatt

Billy Wyatt is a New England Patriots beat reporter for CLNS Radio. Now covering the Patriots for multiple seasons, Billy is a veteran journalist at CLNSRadio.com A graduate of the University of Hartford with a communications degree, Billy’s prior experience was as a sports writer for the Hartford Informer.You can reach Billy via e-mail at bwyatt_91@yahoo.com. And you can follow him on Twitter @Billy_NFL.