The second quarter saw quarterback Ryan Mallett come in for Tom Brady with the New England Patriots leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-0 after the first quarter of play. One thing that stood out was the second unit for the Patriots did not have the same energy and playmaking initially on offense. Ryan Mallett went three and out and led to a punt to Tampa Bay as Mike Glennon came in at quarterback. With most of the first team defense remaining in for the Patriots, they continued to get after Tampa Bay with young linebacker Dont’a Hightower making a big stop in the running game and linebacker/defensive end Rob Ninkovich adding a sack to snuff out the drive.
Quarterback Ryan Mallett drove the offense down to a field goal early in the second quarter working in passes to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, running back Shane Vereen, and slot receiver Julian Edelman. With the Patriots down to the Tampa Bay 21 yard line, the drive stalled and kicker Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 39 yard field goal.
Quarterback Mike Glennon and wide receiver Kevin Ogletree were the stars of the second unit for Tampa Bay as Glennon found Ogletree three times on the drive. Glennon found Ogletree for the scoring pass on third and three on the New England 13 when on a blown coverage by the New England secondary allowed Tampa Bay on the board in the second quarter.
New England came right back to score a touchdown on a drive with four completions by quarterback Ryan Mallett highlighted by a circus catch by undrafted free agent tight end Zach Sudfeld who bobbled and then made a diving catch on a pass down the middle in the end zone. Sudfeld also had made a nice grab of a two-point conversion from Tom Brady in the first quarter and looked to be making a statement that he is earning a significant role on offense.
Wide receiver Aaron Dobson made a nice catch on drive getting open for a 23 yard gain. Edelman added a 12 yard slant and run for 12 yards as well. Shane Vereen again looked explosive coming out of the backfield and zooming for 18 yard to set up the touchdown pass to Sudfeld. This was easily Mallett’s best drive of the season so far.
During the last two minutes of the half Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett drove the Patriots down the field. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 50 yard field goal prior to halftime that “doinked” off the goalpost. This was following a holding penalty on tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and then a false start penalty by offensive lineman and undrafted free agent Chris McDonald which ended up negating the 35 yard field goal by Gostkowski that split the uprights.
After losing three points, the Patriots gave back three points to Tampa Bay after the young safeties tandem of 2012 second round pick Tavon Wilson and 2013 third round pick Duron Harmon allowed a big play with less than 30 seconds to play in the half. Both appeared to let Tampa Bay wide receiver and former New England Patriot Tiquan Underwood get past them with Wilson chasing after him and Harmon late to provide help in the coverage. Underwood made a nice grab and ran it down to the New England 19 yard line to give Tampa a chance to score with 19 seconds in the half.
Fortunately, on the next play Patriots linebacker/defensive end Jamie Collins showed some versatility in pass coverage by making a huge hit to break up a short pass over the middle to Kevin Ogletree and force a 37 yard field goal and keeping the Patriots ahead by a touchdown and two-point conversion at the half at 18-10.
Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett finished the second quarter completing 12 of 20 passes for 137 yards and the nifty pass to tight end Zach Sudfeld. While the running game hardly dominated in the second quarter, Shane Vereen continued to build on a great preseason with some strong running and excellent hands and explosiveness out of the backfield. Wide receiver Julian Edelman looked comfortable in the slot receiver position, and rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld continued to look like a diamond in the rough.