New England Patriots team grades vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Patriots got lucky that they held the lead for a majority of the game, otherwise, they would have been in trouble. New England was unable to slow down Doug Martin, who returned from his four-game suspension tonight.
Martin looked elusive whenever he carried the ball, picking up chunk yardage with ease. Thankfully for the Patriots, Martin only carried the ball 13 times. Part of that could be that this was his first game action in a while, and part was the game flow.
Martin finished the game with 74 yards and one touchdown. The Patriots didn’t have much of an answer for him and lucked out that the Buccaneers abandoned the run game for most of the second half. Martin’s inability to catch some passes out of the backfield was also helpful, but when he carried the ball he hurt the Patriots.
The rush defense has been terrible all season for New England. Just how bad you ask? The 4.5 yards per carry they allowed tonight will actually improve their season number in that category as they came into the game allowing 5.1 yards per carry.
This is an area the Patriots have to figure out how to shore up. Their offense has bailed them out a few times already this season. If they fall behind early in a game, it will be difficult to mount a comeback if their defense continues having the ball ran down their throats.