Despite not showing the level of play that most fans are used to from the New England Patriots, the team is 3-0 for the first time in six seasons. Quarterback Tom Brady lost his best four receiving options in the offseason, the running game is struggling, yet the team is off to a better start.
Brady and his rookie receivers are finally starting to look like they are on the same page after a 23-3 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Kenbrell Thompkins caught two touchdown passes and Aaron Dobson had seven catches. Coming into the Week 3 contest, Brady had thrown 91 pass attempts, only to connect on 43 of them. The young receivers were starting to get questioned but silenced critics on Sunday as Brady was able to connect on 25 of his 36 attempts.
In a season where we have yet to see Brady torch defenses for 400+ yards and four scores, the team is finding other ways to win. The defense of the Patriots had been the Achilles heel of the team in past seasons, but so far in the 2013 NFL season they look completely different. In three weeks, the defense has allowed a total of 34 points to opposing teams, forced four interceptions, and recovered three fumbles. The defense ranks 7th overall in the NFL in opposing passing yards per game averaging only 188.3.
Brady may have lost some of his favorite offensive weapons, but the play from the defense is one of the major factors the team starts out the season 3-0.
The Buccaneers really don’t have anything positive to look at after suffering the loss. The team has already been marred with controversy as quarterback Josh Freeman was stripped of his captaincy and even missed a team photo session.
After scoring on a 30-yard field goal from Rian Lindell to take the lead at 3 to 0 late in the first quarter, the Bucs would not see any more points on the board. Running back Doug Martin had 20 carries for only 88 yards with a long of 11 yards. Freeman went an unbelievable 19-of-41 pass attempts for 236 yards and one interception.
With the star running back not playing up to his expected level of play and Freeman completing less than 50 percent of his passes, the team never stood a chance. After losing their first two games of the season by a total of three points, Sunday’s contest was quite disappointing for the team.
Top receiving option Vincent Jackson hauled in three catches before heading to the locker room due to a rib injury and no update on his status followed. If he’s scheduled to miss any time, the team could struggle even more next week.
A small bright spot for the Bucs is the amount of penalty flags thrown against them. They entered the game tied for the NFL lead with 23 in two games but only managed to attract four yellow flags. While it may be the smallest of victories, it’s one of the only small positive stats coming from their loss on Sunday.