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Final – Bucs 30, Patriots 28: The Patriots fell to the Buccaneers 30-21 in their third preseason game of the summer.
Stats: Patriots-Buccaneers Recap
Despite having their stars in for the three-quarters, the New England offense never got anything going. Tom Brady was constantly pressured, and despite an efficient 13-for-20 showing couldn’t get much going. Stevan Ridley had the big game on offense with 87 rushing yards and another 17 through the air.
Jeff Demps continued to look good on New England’s final drive, bringing back a punt 24 yards and then breaking a nine yard run after two incomplete passes from Mallett. Unfortunately that came on 3rd-and-10, so it brought up a 4th-and-1.
Mallett was able to hit Donte’ Stallworth for a 10-yard gain to convert on the fourth down, and the two seemed to enjoy the connection. After an errant pass over the middle, the two hooked up again for a 19-yard gain. Stallworth finished with three receptions for 40 yards.
Mallett finished the drive with a nice scrambling, four-yard touchdown pass to Jason Holley to make it a 30-28 game. He finished 7-of-16 for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
The Pats attempted an onside kick at the end of the game, but former-Patriot Tiquan Underwood picked it up seal the game for Tampa.
4:13 left in fourth quarter, Bucs 30-21: Jeff Demps is getting some reps at running back for New England, and is taking some pretty good hits in the process.
He was taken down over by the Bucs sideline, and had a few words as he got up. He backed up whatever he said the next time he touched the ball, breaking a 29-yard run to the Tampa 9-yard line.
Mallett capped the drive off two plays later with a three-yard touchdown to rookie Jeremy Ebert. It was a solid 9 play, 76 yard drive for the backup Pats.
7:35 left in fourth quarter, Bucs 30-14: That’s it for the starters, as Ryan Mallet gets his turn under center.
Tom Brady finished the game 13-20 for 127 yards with a touchdown and interception. He was also sacked twice and hit four more times, so he’ll be feeling this one for the next few days.
Aaron Hernandez leaves New England’s leading receiver with five receptions for 52 yards. Rob Gronkowski had a pair of catches for 24 yards and a touchdown, with Brandon Lloyd catching one of the three passes thrown his way.
7:42 left in fourth quarter, Bucs 30-14: The Bucs’ second team offense had their way with the Pats’ defense, putting seven more points on the board.
Second-year running back Mossis Madu picked up 19 yards when he found a huge hole up the middle, setting up an eight yard touchdown from former UConn quarterback Dan Orlovsky to Stroughter.
Orlovsky went 5-for-5 for 38 yards on the drive.
End of third quarter, Bucs 23-14: It’s what we’ve been waiting all night for, as Brady hits Rob Gronkowski for a 16-yard touchdown strike to cut it to a 23-14 Tampa Bay lead.
The drive really belonged to Stevan Ridley though, who started it off going for 19 yards on the first four plays, and picked up 14 following a New England false start. Ridley is up to 87 yards on 16 carries.
That false start was on rookie Jeff Demps, who found his way onto the field on offense and not special teams.
4:25 left in third quarter, Bucs 23-7: Kai Forbath just kicked a 55-yard field goal to put Tampa up 23-7.
The Bucs’ kicking competition is more exciting than anything the Patriots offense has done tonight.
6:27 left in third quarter, Bucs 20-7: More bad news, this time on the defense. Safety Steve Gregory came up limping following a Dan Orlovsky 15-yard pass to Sammie Stroughter.
He was kicked in the right leg by Ras-I Dowling, who was in on the Stroughter tackle. He did jog off, so it could just be a leg cramp. But with Patrick Chung already sidelined, losing Gregory would give the Pats even less depth at safety.
7:29 left in third quarter, Bucs 20-7: It’s not just the offensive line that is concerning in this one, although it certainly is playing a part to the offense’s struggles.
Facing a 2nd-and-25 following an incomplete and then a chop block on Dan Connelly, the Bucs threw the kitchen sink at Brady. He couldn’t do anything and had to throw it away, as he’s had to do on numerous occasions tonight.
Brady is 11-for-18 for 87 yards on the night.
8:46 left in third quarter, Bucs 20-7: We just heard Chandler Jones ‘ name for the first time, and it came on back-to-back plays. He had some great pressure on Josh Freeman on 2nd-and-9, forcing an errant throw to Mike Williams. He got to Freeman on the next play, despite being held, for his first sack of the game.
The defense as a whole looked good on Tampa’s first drive, not giving them much on any front. The Bucs didn’t do themselves any favors either with a pair of false starts, but the pass-rush looked strong and Tampa had no answer for it.
Now we’ll see if Brady and the offense can do anything.
13:03 left in third quarter, Bucs 20-7: Brady started second half, but didn’t accomplish much. He hit Hernandez twice on the drive, but the Patriots only picked up nine yards and went three-and-out.
More of the same from the Patriots offense to start the second half, but at least Brady didn’t hit the ground.
Start of third quarter, Bucs 20-7: The Patriots had one good drive in the first half, but otherwise played pretty sloppy on both ends.
“We just have to play better. We’re not doing anything well right now,” Bill Belichick told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton heading into the third.
We have yet to see Jeff Demps on special teams, with an assortment of Patriots from Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, and Shane Vereen returning kicks, so maybe the second half will be his time. We even saw Aaron Hernandez return a punt.
Another player we haven’t seen is wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth. He’s been on the bubble all preseason, and with Deion Branch seeing extended time already, his time might be running out.
We’ll see how long the starters remain in the game. After struggling in the first half, Bill Belichick might want to give Brady and company another 15 minutes to find a rhythm.
Halftime, Bucs up 20-7: The Bucs ran their two-minute offense right before the half, but the Patriots secondary did a good job keeping them from getting much.
They did pick up 34 yards, but Marquise Cole broke up a pass from Freeman to Sammie Stroughter, and then paired with Devin McCourty to stop Doug Martin on the next play (3rd-and-10) after getting just five yards on a screen.
Kai Forbath kicked a 51-yarder to put Tampa up 20-7. Not a bad little kicking competition going on down in Tampa, if those are the kinds of things that excite you.
The Patriots couldn’t get much going on offense in their final drive of the half (minus a very nice Danny Woodhead 8-yard gain off a draw play right before the 2-minute warning) and had to punt the ball away.
Brady did go Brandon Lloyd’s way twice, but couldn’t come up with a connection. Lloyd was held to one reception for 12 yards.
As for the rest of the offense, Ridley led the way with 52 yards on the ground and another 17 through the air on three receptions. Hernandez was Brady’s favorite target, and finished with two catches for 21 yards.
Brady finished the half 9-of-14 for 80 yards with the pick-six. He was sacked twice and hit another three times by the Bucs D, fumbling once.
3:08 left in 2nd Quarter, Bucs up 17-7: Brady felt plenty more pressure on this drive, getting sacked hard once by Adam Hayward. Brady handled the pressure well the rest of the drive, hitting Deion Branch over the middle on 3rd-and-13 for 14 yards, and then Ridley on a nice screen as the entire Bucs defense came at him.
But with more pressure on 3rd-and-6, Brady came up incomplete to Hernandez over the middle.
While the offensive line continues to be inconsistent, Branch came up with another big conversion on third down after doing so three times on Monday night against the Eagles. He once again came back on a ball that was thrown behind him to make the catch in vintage Deion form.
6:14 left in 2nd Quarter,Bucs up 17-7: The Bucs got just three yards on four plays following the Patriots turnover on downs, but did get three points out of it thanks to a 56-yard boot by Connor Barth.
7:43 left in 2nd Quarter, Bucs 14-7: On 3rd-and-1, Eric Kettani couldn’t pick up the first down, but Bill Belichick wanted his offense to go for it. Ridley took it up the gut and game close, but was about half a yard short and the ball went to the Bucs.
Good situation practice for the Pats (minus the result), but Tampa took over at their own 41 yard line.
9:34 left in 2nd Quarter, Bucs 14-7: The Patriots defense forced a punt after seven-play drive stalled out for the Bucs.
Tampa only picked up seven yards on the drive, but benefited from a pass interference penalty on Tavon Wilson. But Vince Wilfork and Brandon Spikes stuffed LeGarette Blount for yards, and then Vince did it by himself the next play. Following an incomplete from Freeman, the Bucs punted with New England starting their drive at their own 17 following a punt return by Edelman.
12:07 left in 2nd Quarter, Bucs 14-7: This drive ended up belonging to Stevan Ridley, who did most of the work for New England.
Ridley accounted for 43 of the Patriots 81 yards on the drive, and capped it off by plowing his way into the end zone for a one yard touchdown. The second-year back showed some great power running on the drive, including a 30 yard run that set the Pats up deep in the Tampa zone.
Brady had a lot of protection on the drive, and Ridley had plenty of holes to hit and room to run.
End 1st Quarter, Bucs 14-0: After not doing much of anything on offense, the Patriots are driving as the first quarter comes to a close.
The Pats faced a 3rd-and-12 after Brady had a pass knocked down at the line, but he has since found Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd to pick up a pair of first downs, and Stevan Ridley broke an 11-yard run to the left for another.
The Pats will start the second quarter at the Tampa Bay 48.
Kyle Arrington and Shane Vereen lined up to return the kickoff, with Arrington taking it to the 19-yard line. There is still no sign of Demps on special teams.
Shane Vereen suffered what looked like a leg injury, so we’ll have to see if the second-year back returns.
2:58 left in 1st Quarter, Bucs 14-0: New England’s second offensive drive was even worse than their first.
Brady was hit hard and fumbled, but the Patriots were able to recover. Defensive end Michael Bennett made the hit, crossing the field on Marcus Cannon and ended up getting Brady on his blindside. The Patriots retained the ball, but suffered a 10-yard loss to bring up 3rd-and-14.
Brady was promptly picked on a tipped pass by rookie Mark Barron, Tampa’s 1st-round pick, as he looked for Rob Gronkowski. Barron brought it back 22-yards for the pick-six.
At least the offense will be back out on the field. Hopefully for Brady, that’s a good thing.
4:22 left in 1st Quarter, Bucs 7-0: The Patriots defense looked a little better their second time out on the field. The Bucs were able to pick up a first down, but Freeman tried to go over the middle twice to pick up another and couldn’t get it done. A pass to Jackson was dropped, with Gregory ready to lay a solid hit on him if he made the catch, and Mike Williams only picked up four yards when they needed seven.
Nate Ebner had a nice stop on the Williams reception. The Pats offense will take the field again, but only start at their own 11-yard line after a short punt return by Julian Edelman.
7:54 left in 1st Quarter, Bucs 7-0: The Patriots offense didn’t do much on their first drive, picking up just 8 yards on a Brady-to-Gronkowski pass. Running back Stevan Ridley was stoped twice, leading to a Pats’ punt.
Devin McCourty handled the first kickoff, but only made it to the New England 13.
9:36 left in 1st Quarter, Bucs 7-0: The Patriots start on defense, with Steve Gregory and rookie Tavon Wilson getting the start at safety with Patrick Chung sidelined.
The two, and secondary in general, had a rough first drive with Josh Freeman hooking up with Vincent Jackson three times for 49 yards — including a key third down reception for 14 yards.
After a 10-yard Freeman-to-Jackson connection got Tampa to the Pats 6, rookie Doug Martin pounded it in to give the Bucs the early lead. It was a seven play, 67 yard drive that really exposed the Patriots secondary.
Pregame 7:31 p.m.:Wes Welker is among 10 Patriots not to dress against the Bucs.
Also not dressed is WR Jabar Gaffney, S Patrick Chung, S Will Allen, S Josh Barrett, CB Ross Ventrone, LB Tracy White, OT Matt Kopa, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, and DL Gerard Warren, according to ESPNBoston’s Mike Reis.
No real surprises on the list, as Welker missed both of New England’s joint practices in Tampa this week.
Tackle Sebastian Vollmer did dress, but it isn’t clear if he will play or not. We’ll find out shortly.
7:22 p.m.: It looks like we’ll get a good look at newly signed rookie Jeff Demps. The Olympic silver medalist was catching kicks during warmups, and will likely handle the kickoff returning duties for New England.
The Patriots struggled on special teams last season, scoring just one touchdown, so it will be interesting to see if the speedy Demps can make a difference.
7:10 p.m.: The Patriots’ busy week of football continues Friday night as they suit up for their third preseason game (and second in the last four days) against the Buccaneers in Tampa.
After a pair of joint practices with the Bucs, the Patriots are feeling confident as they head into what is seen as the most important preseason game. Tom Brady should see plenty of action after sitting out Monday night’s tilt, and we’ll see if the offensive line will be able to keep him upright with the return of Logan Mankins.
You can hear the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub and watch it on WBZ-TV, but if you’re not able to do either keep it right here on our live blog as we’ll be updating all night!
To hold you over until game time, take a look at Four Stories To Follow in tonight’s game. 98.5′s Adam Kaufman also caught up with Mike Flynn for a special all Patriots edition of “5 Questions” to get you ready for the regular season, which is just two short weeks away.