New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady played the entire first quarter of preseason game two against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, they don’t have to face him for all four quarters until after the regular season starts.
Brady shook off any doubts about his knee injury at practice this week by following up his week one virtuoso performance against the Philadelphia Eagles by topping that against Tampa Bay. Brady continued to show he is revitalized by playing with a strong running game and his young and athletic receiving corps. Playing just the first quarter, Brady went 11 for 12 passing for 107 yards and a touchdown to wide receiver Danny Amendola.
After utilizing rookie wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson last season on his drive, Brady found free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola six times for 71 yards. Brady went out with a vengeance and completed his first eleven passes before missing Amendola on a third and seven which led to the first stop of Brady this preseason and ended his night with backup quarterback Ryan Mallett coming on for the second quarter.
Some other tidbits from the first quarter:
- Running back Shane Vereen had a 16 yard reception on third down early on the first drive to convert a third down. He looked very much like he was comfortable taking over Danny Woodhead’s role on third down.
- Fullback James Develin was out on the field as the Patriots showed some two back alignments and even gave him a couple of carries. This may set off another “will offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels keep a fullback on the roster or not” series of questions like in training camp last year (the Patriots carried no true fullback last season after having a number of them in camp).
- Wide receivers Josh Boyce and Julian Edelman made the stat sheet with some playing time and catching a reception each on the first offensive drive by the Patriots.
- The Patriots defense did not spend much time on the field during the first quarter, having forced a quick three-and-out. Great penetration and pressure defensive tackle Tommy Kelly collapsing the pocket on Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman forced him into the arms of blitzing linebacker Brandon Spikes, who overpowered running back Doug Martin of Tampa Bay. Freeman seemed uncomfortable in the pocket for the entire first quarter as the Patriots defense had their ears pinned back and were coming at him.
- The big downer of the Patriots first quarter was the kick return unit which gave up a 63-yard return following the touchdown pass to Amendola. Fortunately, the defense held, but that kind of big play on special teams does not go over well with former special teams coach Bill Belichick.
- The Patriots defense came out and put pressure on Freeman and the Buccaneers sacking him three times in the first quarter (Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and Brandon Spikes accounted for the three sacks). A couple of times Freeman checked down to tight ends and held the ball and was sacked, indicating good pass coverage by the secondary. Unfortunately, not much of a view of the secondary or any discussion of coverage by the Fox television crew.
- Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin was injured on the Buccaneer’s second drive of the first quarter on the first play and did not return. Looked like he got a knee to the head chopping down while blocking Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones.
- Rookie punter Ryan Allen got the first punt of the game for the Patriots, which could be significant in his battle with incumbent punter Zoltan Mesko. Unfortunately for Allen, it bounced into the end zone for a touchback.