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Patriots Live Blog: Pats Beat Bucs 23-3, Improve To 3-0 On Season

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Tom Brady (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Tom Brady (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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Final, 23-3 Patriots: That’s it from Foxboro, the Patriots are 3-0.

Fourth quarter, 1:25, 23-3: For good measure, the Patriots come up with another fourth-down stop, their fourth of the day, and the Patriots will kneel it to kill the clock here.

Fourth quarter, 2:00, 23-3 Patriots: A long drive by the Patriots ends in a failed fourth-down conversion attempt in the red zone, and the Bucs are currently driving while most of the crowd heads to the exits.

Fourth quarter, 7:38, 23-3 Patriots: A three-and-out for the Bucs. This one’s over, but for the fat lady singing.

Fourth quarter, 8:19, 23-3: A moderately surgical drive from the Patriots offense against an is-the-game-over-yet Bucs defense sets up a chip shot for Gostkowski, which extends the lead to 23-3. It was almost sad to see the Bucs out there on that drive, as they just look beaten. On the plus side for the Pats, they’re just doing the job today.

Fourth quarter, 13:03, 20-3 Patriots: Another fourth-down attempt, another fourth-down stop for the Patriots D.

On third-and-13, Alfonzo Dennard did a great job of turning his head to find the ball to break up a pass intended for Kevin Ogletree. On fourth down, Dennard was again in coverage with Devin McCourty coming over for help, as Freeman’s pass hit the turf.

That’s now three fourth-down failures for the Bucs, who again weren’t able to finish off a drive. Ugly stuff.

End of third quarter, 20-3 Patriots: The Bucs seem to be getting by just fine without Vincent Jackson for the time being, as they’ve relied on the ground game to establish a drive here. They’ve moved the chains a few times, but they still have 46 yards to go to get into the end zone. I think the Patriots are OK with letting the Bucs pick up a handful of yards at a time, because for one, it’s going to take a lot of time off the clock to score that way. Even more, the Patriots likely feel confident enough that if given enough opportunities, they’ll be able to make a big play on defense to stop the drive, either with a sack or interception. Ninkovich nearly had one a few plays before the end of the quarter, but Freeman just escaped it.

Here are Levan Reid’s thoughts from the third quarter:

Buccaneers get the ball to start the quarter and the Pats defense forces them into a 3 and out. Chandler Jones and Tommy Kelly share a sack. Tampa punts the ball away.

Pats first possession of the quarter and it looked like they were going to score. Brandon Bolden with a big run of 46 yards and on 3rd and 11 Brady hits Thompkins on a 20 yard passing play. From there it was drops and bad throws. Brady tried to go to Zach Sudfeld and he gets intercepted by Mark Barron. Golden opportunity lost.

Bucs do nothing with the turnover on their second possession of the quarter. The Pats defense forces them into a 3 and out.

Pats second possession of the quarter and they get 3 more. Brady and Michael Hoomananwanui were the main figures on this drive. Hooman with a great effort on third down to put the Pats in field goal range. Stephen Gostkowski nails a 46 yard field goal. Tom Brady is getting hit by the way. He was sacked once on this drive.

Bucs have the ball to end the 3rd quarter and they are trying to get something going. Tampa is moving piece by piece down the field.

Third quarter, 3:38, 20-3 Patriots: A big blow to the Tampa chances of a comeback, as Vincent Jackson is currently out with a rib injury and his return is questionable.

Third quarter, 3:38, 20-3 Patriots: Well, it wasn’t a great drive, but it was good enough to tack on another three points. That was possible after Brady evaded pressure and threw a little jump-step pass out to Michael Hoomanawanui, who broke free from a tackle and burst up the sideline for a gain of 16 to make it a manageable field-goal attempt. Gostkowski drilled it, and it’s  17-point lead for New England now.

Third quarter, 7:53, 17-3 Patriots: The end zone pick may have cost the Patriots some points, but the Bucs couldn’t capitalize for themselves, and they had to punt it away.

Julian Edelman made a very nice return, setting the Pats up on their own 36-yard line.

I’d expect to see a locked-in Brady right now. He doesn’t like throwing picks in the end zone too much.

Third quarter, 9:34, 17-3 Patriots: Things were going well for the Patriots, with Brady hitting Thompkins for a 20-yard gain on a third-and-11 from the Tampa 26, but then they went awry.

Dobson was wide open in the end zone after a nice play-action fake, but Brady short-hopped the throw while getting hit. On second down, Brady misfired on a wide receiver screen to Thompkins, and on third down, there must have been some miscommunication, because Brady threw the pass directly at safety Mark Barron.

It definitely looked like the wheels came off a little bit for Brady there, and he was clearly upset with himself after the miscue.

Third quarter, 12:56, 17-3 Patriots: The third quarter starts much the same way the second quarter went, with the Patriots forcing a punt. Tommy Kelly and Chandler Jones split a sack on second-and-8, and a third-and-15 pass fell to the turf, not close to anyone.

Pats take over at their 29-yard line after a short return by Edelman.

Third quarter, 15:00, 17-3 Patriots: Stephen Gostkowski’s kick goes out the back of the end zone, and the second half is under way.

Here are Levan Reid’s highs and lows from the second quarter:

Bucs have the ball to start the quarter and the Pats defense gets them to turn on the ball over on downs. Mike Williams again gets a first down catch for 12 yards but the drive stalls after that. Tampa goes for it on 4th down and they get nothing.

Pats first possession of the second quarter and they get on the board. Tom Brady to Aaron Dobson to move the chains. Stevan Ridley with a nice 9 yard run. Brady hits Kenbrell Thompkins for 16 yards and a touchdown to end it. Thompkins first touchdown as a pro.

Bucs second possession of the quarter and the defense is stout again. Tampa gets 22 on their first play from scrimmage. Freeman to Eric Page and then the drive stalls. Tampa tries for a 4th and one and Doug Martin gets stuffed. Pats ball.

Pats second possession the quarter and they are getting the job done. They use a pass interference call to get the ball down the field. Nice passing play to Stevan Ridley to get the ball on the goal line. Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins for another touchdown. His second of the game.

Side note, there was a play in this drive where Brandon Bolden quit on a play. Just awful effort.

Bucs final possession of the quarter and Josh Freeman gets intercepted by Aqib Talib. The Pats try 53 yard field goal and Stephen Gostkowski nails it. Great use of time management and for Gostkowski that’s his 8th field goal of 50 or more yards.

Halftime, 17-3 Patriots: Stephen Gostkowski had plenty of leg on a 53-yard field goal, which was set up by a Tom Brady QB sneak that gave the Patriots the five yards they needed to set up the attempt.

It was the eighth career field goal of 50 or more yards for Gostkowski, tying Adam Vinatieri’s franchise record. I believe you’re familiar with the latter’s work for the franchise, so that’s quite the accomplishment.

It was a rather stark change of pace in the second quarter for the Pats, who were booed off the field at the end of the first quarter but thoroughly dominated the second quarter. The 14-point lead is the Patriots’ largest of the season to this point, and the way they quickly turned that Talib interception into three points is indicative of how well-coached and trained this team is. It stands out when compared with the Bucs, whose mistakes keep piling up.

Second quarter, :11, 14-3 Patriots: Any hope of the Bucs scoring before halftime disappeared thanks to Aqib Talib, who stepped in front of a deep out to Vincent Jackson and picked off the pass. Nice play, nice catch by Talib.

It was Talib’s third pick of the season already.

Second quarter, :47, 14-3 Patriots: Once again, it’s Brady to Thompkins for a TD, this one a five-yard completion. Thompkins got inside Banks and cut inside through the middle of the end zone. Brady looked at 85 the whole way and threw a bullet right to the numbers for his second TD of the day, and the Pats lead 14-3.

Second quarter, :59, 7-3 Patriots: Correction — after a booth review of the spot, Stevan Ridley is now ruled down a half-yard shy of the sticks. Third-and-inches from the 8.

Second quarter, :59, 7-3 Patriots: Brady and the offense are driving for another score, facing a first-and-goal from the 7-yard line. The drive was aided by a pass interference call on Johnthan Banks on a pass that Aaron Dobson had a chance to catch along the right sideline. It may have been a fortunate break for the Pats, but it’s the kind of mistake the Bucs keep making this season.

Second quarter, 4:20, 7-3 Patriots: The Pats’ defense stepped up yet again, first on third-and-1 from the New England 38. Talib ran step-for-step with Vincent Jackson and was able to disrupt the receiver just enough to cause an incompletion. The Bucs went for it on fourth-and-a-long-1, handing the ball to Doug Martin, but Brandon Spikes was able to come up with the tackle to turn the ball over on downs.

The defense hasn’t been perfect today, but that was a nice sequence to get the ball back to Brady before halftime with the 7-3 lead intact.

Second quarter, 7:31, 7-3 Patriots: The Patriots’ offense has figured it out — at least for now.

The Patriots utilized crossing patterns over the middle of the field to gash the Bucs defense, with Kenbrell Thompkins capping off the 66-yard, five-minute drive with a 16-yard catch and run for his first career touchdown.

On the drive, Brady relied on Dobson over the middle, with Stevan Ridley showing his elusiveness and power with a fairly impressive run when he spun away from one defender and ran right over another.

The crowd is back into it — no booing after that drive — and the Pats have the lead midway through the second quarter.

Also of note, that touchdown gives Brady a touchdown pass in 51 straight games, the longest active current streak.

Second quarter, 12:44, 3-0 Buccaneers: Tommy Kelly put the pressure on Freeman on a third-and-5, forcing a bad pass out of bounds, and the Bucs decided to go for it on fourth down from the New England 34. Alfonzo Dennard got away with a couple of holds on receiver Mike Williams, who was back in there, but it went uncalled. The Pats take over on their own 34, looking to get something going for the first time today.

Second quarter, 14:00, 3-0 Buccaneers: Mike Williams picks up a first down but is shaken up on the play. He’s been Freeman’s favorite target thus far, so if he is out for a while, it’ll have an effect on the Bucs’ offense.

Here are the thoughts from WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid after the first quarter:

Pats get the ball first and they get nothing. Tom Brady to Brandon Bolden to start the game gets the Pats 12 but they stall after that. Brady gets sacked on 3rd down and the ball is turned over.

Tampa gets the ball and they are moving it on their first possession. Josh Freeman hits Mike Williams for a 28 yard passing play and they make their way down the field. The Buccaneers make an attempt at a 38 yard field goal and they come up wide left. The Pats defense does just enough.

Pats second possession of the quarter and they get nothing again. Brady hits Aaron Dobson to convert a first down. Then on third down, Brandon Bolden drops and first down ball. The Pats punt. Offense still struggling with execution.

Alfonzo Dennard is not out there on every down and it’s starting to show. Kyle Arrington is good in the slot but he’s having a tough time out there on the island. Bucs second possession of the quarter and it’s a long one and they get on the board. This drive could have been stopped in the beginning but Vincent Jackson made a great catch over Aqib Talib on a third down play. Josh Freeman threw to Mike Williams to get down the field and Ryan Lindell kicked a 30 yard field goal to get Tampa on the board. Kyle Arrington had a costly pass interference penalty that helped get the Buccaneers in field goal range.

Pats third possession of the quarter and they go 3 and out. It was fast. Tom got sacked on first down by Adrian Clayborne and the Pats offense did nothing from there.

End of first quarter, 3-0 Buccaneers: A good number of fans voiced their displeasure with the current state of the Patriots on the last drive, with some audible booing filling Gillette Stadium after a third-and-long screen to Brandon Bolden didn’t get the Patriots anywhere near a first down.

The Pats finish the quarter with just 31 yards of offense, compared to the Bucs’ 105. Clearly, some of the issues from last week are still present, and clearly, some fans don’t have much patience to wait to see it come together.

First quarter, 1:47, 3-0 Buccaneers: The Patriots are able to keep the Bucs out of the end zone, barely, but the Bucs do take a 3-0 lead on a short field goal by Lindell.

The Bucs got there after a costly pass interference penalty on Kyle Arrington, who used his left arm as leverage on Mike Williams’ shoulder to try to break up a pass. The Bucs also ran a nifty play on a third-and-2 near midfield, with Freeman faking a toss left, rolling out right and lobbing a short pass to Vincent Jackson to move the sticks. Earlier in the drive, Freeman and Jackson had a beautiful third down connection, with Freeman tossing a perfectly placed pass that spun around Aqib Talib.

The Bucs should have scored six, but Tim Wright let a pass sail through his hands (the Bucs’ third drop of the quarter).

First quarter, 7:48, 0-0: Aaron Dobson did make a catch on a nice pass from Brady, so that’s an improvement from last week, but the drive still ends with a punt.

First-and-10 for the Bucs from their own 12, after a much better punt the second time around by Ryan Allen.

First quarter, 10:11, 0-0: There’s a reason why the Bucs are 0-2, and we just saw why.

On first-and-10 from the New England 28, Josh Freeman missed a wide open Mike Williams. Then the Bucs had a false start penalty, and then Vincent Jackson dropped a pass that hit him in the hands. On third down, Doug Martin ran a route short of the sticks, and Jerod Mayo delivered a shot to keep him from even thinking about getting a first down. And then Rian Lindell’s field-goal attempt went just wide, and the game remains scoreless.

On the plus side for the Bucs, Mike Williams beat Alfonzo Dennard in man coverage along the left sideline for a 28-yard gain earlier in the drive.

First quarter, 13:15, 0-0: After a nice screen pass to Brandon Bolden on the first play of the drive, the Patriots don’t get much else, as the drive ends with a sack of Brady for a loss of nine yards. Ryan Allen’s punt sets the Bucs up at their own 31.

First quarter, 15:00: Michael Koenen’s kick sailed out of the back of the end zone for a touchback and this one’s under way. First-and-10 from the 20 from the Patriots. Let’s see what this week brings.

1 p.m.: The Bucs won the toss and elected to defer, meaning Tom Brady will get the ball first.

12:38 p.m.: It’s turned into a picture-perfect day here at Gillette, and the sun is shining after a rainy and cloudy morning. It’s just about time for football here.

12:19 p.m.: There were no surprises in the Patriots’ inactive list, with both Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola out for this one. Matthew Slater, Leon Washington, Steve Beauharnais, Will Svitek and Chris Jones are also inactive for the Pats.

For the Bucs, Gabe Carimi, Tom Crabtree, Luke Stocker, Derek Landri, Steven Means, Dan Orlovsky and Michael Adams are inactive.

Here are WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid’s thoughts on the inactives:

Danny Amendola is out. Word is his groin is torn off the bone. As gruesome as that sounds, its a good thing. This injury can not get worse and the Pats medical staff can manage it from here. Hopefully Amendola can get back faster than people think. It’s positive that he’s on the practice field.

As for Gronk, it’s another game he’s out. Whether it’s his back or his arm, he needs to start hitting in practice and that apparently has not happened yet. The first time he gets hit can’t be in the game. Next week will be a huge target for him to get back on the field.

11:05 a.m.: In non-injury news this morning, the Patriots have reportedly signed Rob Ninkovich to a three-year contract extension worth $15 million, with $8.5 million guaranteed, according to Mike Reiss and Ian Rapoport.

Ninkovich has risen from virtual unknown in 2009 to key player in recent years. Bill Belichick refers to him as the “Jet Killer,” and he averaged more than six sacks per season from 2010-12. He’s also recorded two sacks in each of the past two postseasons, and the Patriots made sure to lock up the 29-year-old for the near future.

10:24 a.m.: Here’s a report that is somewhat surprising to hear this Sunday morning: “Rob Gronkowski is unlikely to play today. It’s his forearm holding him back, not his back. Needs to be full strength.”

The report comes from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter, and it’s surprising because it was widely assumed that it was Gronkowski’s back that had him most limited. He underwent back surgery in June, with his most recent forearm surgery taking place in May. Gronkowski first broke his forearm against Indianapolis last year in Week 11. He returned in Week 17 but left the Patriots’ divisional round playoff game early when he re-injured the arm.

It’s not necessarily better or worse that the forearm is Gronkowski’s problem right now, but given how much trouble it gave him last year, with the recurrence of the break in January, it’s at least something worth monitoring pretty closely.

8 a.m.: It’s time for football in New England, and just like last week against the Jets, it’s hard to know what to expect out of the Patriots today.

Tom Brady was surgical in his dismantling of the Buccaneers in the preseason, but nothing in the preseason has really carried over into the regular season, so a performance in mid-August is certainly not anything the Patriots can hang their hat on in mid-September.

The Buccaneers come to Foxboro reportedly with a bit of turmoil going on in the locker room. Still, despite Josh Freeman reportedly wanting, despite Darrelle Revis comparing this year’s Bucs to past years of Jets messes, and despite an 0-2 record, the Bucs still present a number of challenges for the Patriots.

For one, those two Bucs losses have come by a combined three points, so it’s not as if they’re the Jaguars or anything.

There’s also Vincent Jackson for the Patriots to worry about. The receiver has had himself some big days against the Patriots during his San Diego days, catching 19 passes in three games against the Patriots, racking up 359 yards and three touchdowns. Obviously, he doesn’t have Philip Rivers throwing him deep balls anymore, and the Patriots’ secondary looks to be much improved with Aqib Talib at corner, but Jackson nevertheless will require a lot of the Patriots’ attention.

The same goes for running back Doug Martin, who’s coming off a 144-yard rushing game against the Saints last week. Running backs very rarely have such days against the Patriots, but stopping Martin won’t be easy.

On the other side of the ball, Tom Brady’s greatest foe, Darrelle Revis, will be roaming, looking to make a game-changing interception. This should be a close game, and one turnover could be the difference between winning and losing for either team.

And the Patriots still have question marks surrounding their own offense, Revis or no Revis, and whether it can put enough points on the scoreboard to win games consistently. In all honesty, as ugly as last week’s win over the Jets looked, the fact remains that if Aaron Dobson is able to just grab a few passes that he’s more than capable of catching, it’s a whole different story. When Tom Brady and Bill Belichick talk about the importance of executing, sometimes it is as simple as catching the passes that hit your hands. If Dobson can clean up that part of his game, and if Zach Sudfeld can step back into the offense and pretend it’s August again, then it could be a very different story.

Of course, the only way of finding out is by seeing what happens, and it’ll all be documented right here in the live blog. Check back all day for updates live from Gillette Stadium.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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