The New England Patriots moved to 3-0 on the season after defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-3 earlier today. While the combined season record of the three teams they have played is 2-5, the Patriots remain on top of the AFC East and are now 3-0 for the first time since 2007. That year the Patriots went 16-0, but then lost in the Super Bowl. While fans should hold their breath on a 16-0 season, here are some takeaways from today's victory.
1. The defense is pretty good
I will preface this section by saying that the Patriots have yet to face a good quarterback so far this season. They have faced two rookie quarterbacks (Geno Smith and EJ Manuel) and one up-and-down quarterback (Josh Freeman). Regardless, the defense has stepped it up and helped the Patriots to a 3-0 record as the offense sorts out its issues with injuries and poor play.
The Patriots have forced four interceptions and have recovered three fumbles so far this season. Today, Aqib Talib recorded his third interception of the year, which then led to a field goal as the first half ended and put the Patriots up 17-3. The Patriots also are a Top 10 defense in terms of total yards allowed, currently ranking seventh in the NFL.
They also stopped the Buccaneers four times on fourth down, which was huge for getting the ball back to Tom Brady and the offense.
2. Tom Brady has enough to get by until Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski return
Tom Brady looked more like himself today. After a sloppy game against the New York Jets last week where his receivers dropped passes, Brady came back and threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns against a solid Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.
The encouraging sign was that Brady spread the ball around and seemed to have trust with rookie wideouts Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. After both dropped numerous passes, they came back this week and combined to catch 10 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
Brady will survive without Amendola and Gronkowski long enough until both are scheduled to return sometime in the next couple of weeks.
3. The Patriots can still run the ball
The Patriots entered today with a tough task as they faced one of the league's best run defenses. However, the Patriots ran the ball extremely well as they ran for 156 yards on 33 carries. Considering the Buccaneers only alllowed 165 yards rushing to opponents in the first two games, the Patriots offensive line did well today.
While no back got the bulk of the carries, Legarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden and Steven Ridley had 65, 51 and 35 yards rushing respectively. It looks like the Patriots will use a running backs by committee for now.
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