Pats @ Bucs First Half Thoughts
As the New England Patriots head into the half of their Thursday night showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a 13-7 lead, here are some first half thoughts:
Sloppy Play Up Front- The Pats have been very sloppy up front on offense, with their line allowing the Bucs to put a beating on quarterback Tom Brady. Through the first two quarters of play, Brady was hit three times, sacked twice and hurried a bunch by the typically underwhelming pass rush of the Bucs. Because of the in ability to hold off the pressure, the Pats offense struggled to really kick it into an extra gear throughout the first half.
Not The Same- Due to the relentless pressure he faced in the first half, Brady didn't look like his same comfortable self early on. Though he has completed 18 of his 22 pass attempts so far, he has totaled just 169 yards and had to through a lot of short passes with rapid pressure coming at him. The heat also caused Brady to throw his first interception of the season on a poorly thrown ball in the first quarter.
Red Zone Inefficiency- The Pats offense has struggled in the red area so far, settling for two field goals from within the 20-yard line. They will need to turn those scores into touchdowns against better teams.
A Lot Of Penalties- There were a lot of penalties called in the first half, Thursday. In total, the two teams were flagged 12 times for 120 yards. The Pats led the way with seven fouls for 75 yards, over the first two quarters. Penalties aren't a shock with the officiating crew led by Carl Cheffers, as they tend to call a lot.
Getting Better But Still An Issue- The Patriots defense showed signs of getting better throughout the first half. They were able to limit Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston to 8-16 passing for 71 yards and forced Tampa to punt on four of their six first half drives. While they have showed signs of improvement, the one drive in which they allowed Tampa's lone score on the night seemed to be scripted from the same playbook the team was using in their first four games. It was big play after big play given up by the defense on an 11 play 62 yard scoring drive. Limiting the big plays will need to be something the Pats figure out how to do, if they want to have a successful rest of the season.
Another Score For Hogan- Once again, Chris Hogan proved to be a solid red zone target, catching the only touchdown of the night for New England thus far. That makes five scores for Hogan through four and a half games.