The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have vastly improved defense. Tom Brady and the Patriots may have lost some skill players on offense. It certainly didn't look that way on Friday night.
Brady completed 11 of 12 passes for 107 yds and a 26 yd touchdown pass to new WR Danny Amendola as the Patriots outgained the Buccaneers 145-8 in the first quarter. The Patriots opened the ballgame with a 15 play, 80 yd drive that ended with the touchdown for Amendola and a two point conversion from Brady to Zac Sudfield to give New England an 8-0 edge. Brady actually completed his first 11 passes.
The Bucs first team offense had a miserable effort. QB Josh Freeman was sacked three times in the first two drives and Bucs superstar running back Doug Martin left the game after taking a knee to the head.
The Bucs would run just 8 plays with Freeman going 2-for-3. 8 yds. Mike Glennon wouldn't fair much better in his first series, going three and out while also getting sacked.
The numbers for the Bucs offensive line in the first half - two holding penalties and 4 sacks surrendered.
After going three and out in his first series, Ryan Mallet drove the Patriots on an 8 play, 48 yd drive that resulted in a Steve Gostkowski 39 yd field goal, staking New England to an 11-0 edge.
On Glennon's second drive, rookie Mike James had several impressive runs, as did Peyton Hillis and Glennon found rhythm with Kevin Ogletree, connecting with the former Cowboy three times for 36 yds including a beautiful 13 yd strike for a touchdown, slicing the Pats lead to 11-7 with 5:05 left in the first half. The drive went 65 yds in 9 plays.
The Patriots responded with an impressive 75 yd drive in just 5 plays, capped with TE Zach Sudfeld's acrobatic touchdown reception, pushing the lead to 18-7. The drive just took 1:15.
After the Bucs drive stalled, the Patriots drove all the way to the Bucs' 17 yd line. On Gostkowski's 35 yd field goal attempt, there was a holding call. Then the Patriots had a false start, turning the attempt into a 50 yder, which Gostkowski bonked off the upright.
With just 18 seconds to work with, Glennon fired a gorgeous 41 yd bomb to Tiquan Underwood, setting up Derek Dimke for a 37 yd field goal. The Bucs ended the first half trailing 18-10. Defensively, it looked very 2012 like for the Bucs in the first half as they surrendered 315 yds (244 yds passing). The Bucs offense finished the first half with just 123 yds of total offense.
During Fox's haltime show, former Buc Ronde Barber was asked about Doug Martin's injury. After giving Martin a compliment, Barber added, "Josh Freeman can't carry this team on his shoulders, we all know that. He makes too many mistakes. They have to have Doug Martin out there." Wow. Barber unfiltered.
After the teams exchanged punts to start the second half, Glennon was pick-sixed by Patriots rookie CB Logan Ryan, who returned the interception 53 yds, ballooning the New England lead to 25-10.
Glennon bounced back with a touchdown pass to David Douglas, completing a 15 play, 79 yd drive that was mostly on the strength of the running of Mike James and Peyton Hillis. The Bucs went for two and Mike James snuck over the goal line to close the gap to 25-18.
With Brian Leonard out, both Hillis and James took advantage, playing extremely well. Hillis ran for 73 yds on 18 carries while James had his best performance of the pre-season, showing vision and speed on his way to averaging 6.2 yds per carry, running 81 yds on 13 carries. James also added 3 receptions for 23 yds.
Glennon finished 11 of 22, 121 yds, 2 touchdowns, 1 int.
On the next series, Tim Tebow took a high snap, panicked, threw the ball up for grabs and it went right into the hands of Bucs defensive back Mason Robinson.
Dan Orlovsky took over for Glennon and completed a pass to James but the drive stalled and the Bucs settled for a 23 yd Dimke field goal, cutting the lead to 25-21.
After stopping the Patriots on the next drive, the Bucs drove to their own 45 yd line. On 4th and inches, Mike James was stopped short. New England would run out the clock.
Tim Tebow was pretty brutal, completing 1 of 7, -1 yds and an interception. He would run for 30 yds on 6 carries and had a 40 yd run called back.
The Patriots offense was stagnant with the former Heisman Trophy winner in the game and finished with 382 total yds. Orlovsky would finish 3-for-3 for 52 yds and after a terrible start, the Bucs would finish with 318 yds of total offense.