Patriots 31, Bucs 14: Quick look at the 1st half

TAMPA – Watched the first half again early this morning and wanted to post some thoughts before traveling back.

Hopefully my full breakdown will be up sometime later in the day.


  • Was the pressure generated by the front seven also good as it looked? Oh yeah. I had the Patriots for 10.5 quarterback pressures, eight quarterback hits, two sacks, one knockdown and three holding penalties (all drawn by Andre Carter). I keep those all separately, so a sack doesn’t count as a QB hit. That’s 23 total quarterback pressures on 23 drop backs (including three holding penalties). That is an unreal number. I think I counted three plays the Buccaneers blocked properly, and the first didn’t come until there was 10:55 left to play in the first half.
  • Leading the way were Carter and Jerod Mayo, who looks like an unleashed beast at weakside linebacker (yes, he’s really playing there).
  • Carter worked mostly against Donald Penn, a Pro Bowl alternate, and then poor James Lee who never stood a chance. Carter had three pressures, three holds drawn, a quarterback hit and a shared bad run (runs of less than 1 yard) produced. Carter just never stopped coming. Penn was so pathetic that one time he just tried to use his butt to block Carter. And it didn’t work.
  • Mayo might have been better with three QB hits, two sacks and a pass defensed. Just sensational.
  • Rob Ninkovich quietly had a very nice nice game, both at strong side linebacker and defensive end. He had two pressures, a QB hit, a pass defensed and a solo bad run. If anybody had any doubt Ninkovich can handle SLB, watch him toss TE Ryan Purvis out of the way and then take down LeGarrette Blount after a 1-yard gain.
  • Gerard Warren played like a 30-year-old out there with a tackle for a loss and a pressure. The man definitely has something left in the tank. May be playing his way firmly on the roster.
  • Other pressure totals: Kyle Love (one pressure), Eric Moore (knockdown, ½ bad run), Mark Anderson (one pressure), Myron Pryor (half pressure), Vince Wilfork (QB hit), Dane Fletcher (0.5 bad run in about two plays), Gary Guyton (QB hit), Niko Koutouvides (pressure), Tracy White (pressure) and Devin McCourty (QB hit).
  • Wilfork had a quiet night but did nothing wrong. Don’t think he played a ton this time, and may have been doubled a lot (will have to watch back for that).
  • Anybody missing Jermaine Cunningham?
  • The Patriots brought a lot more pressure. By rough estimate, I had them for nine total blitzes (45 percent of the snaps – which is absurdly high for Bill Belichick). Five were five-man pressures, with four of the six-man variety with two linebackers coming.
  • On 28 offensive plays for the Buccaneers, I had the Patriots’ defense with only three “negative” plays: Sergio Brown and Kyle Arrington both missed tackles on the same play, and Patrick Chung was called for pass interference. That’s it! That is doing some work.
  • Guyton got off a block to make a nice play against the run. I swear he did.
  • Oh, and the Patriots beat former teammate Ted Larsen like he stole something. He was terrible.


  • Patriots’ offense was very good, but it was not perfect, even leading 28-0. When you look at it compared to the defense, Tom Brady and his boys were a bunch of slackers.
  • Brady was nearly flawless himself, with only a couple of poor throws and a poor to decision to nearly get Wes Welker killed at the end of the first half. The playfake he made on the TD to Chad Ochocinco was a thing of beauty. Sean Jones completely bought it. It helped that Ochocinco sold it too.
  • Brady ran the team with precision and he had the Bucs on their toes the entire first half. He was in complete command.
  • The offensive was very good, but not perfect. They were on the ground, however. Really nice work there.
  • In the air, they gave up four pressures, three quarterback hits and a sack. LT Nate Solder held his own with only minimal help with a sack allowed and a half QB hit. LG Logan Mankins allowed a pressure and half a hit. C Dan Koppen would have been perfect with his holding penalty. RG Dan Connolly allowed two QB hits and a pressure. Sebastian Vollmer allowed two pressures.
  • The interior of the line had tough time dealing with Bucs DT Gerald McCoy. That guy is a load. Not many people knock Mankins back with regularity, but McCoy did. Mankins is so good at recovering.
  • The Bucs blitzed four times in 20 drop backs (25 percent). Three were six-man pressures.
  • RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis was excellent. Broke two tackles and his 1-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter was all him. RB Danny Woodhead was good and got what was blocked with the exception of a nice broken tackle that led to a big run.
  • The receivers were fine, just didn’t get a ton of work. Welker was targeted on eight of the 20 attempts (40 percent). He had one excellent catch where he took a beating.
  • TE Rob Gronkowski had a little bit of an off night (for him). He had a terrific run block, but dropped a catchable pass and his illegal downfield block penalty was just a mental error.
  • Will Yeatman was the only TE besides Gronkowski and Hernandez to see the field. Draft pick Lee Smith rode the pine while Yeatman worked. He had a couple excellent run blocks, but he also had two terrible ones (one a bad run) and allowed a QB pressure. The former lacrosse star just needs more reps. He’s very green.

That’s it. Hope it makes sense. It’s time to go to bed.


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