It was a good day in New England as the Patriots dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-3 at Gillette Stadium. The victory extended the Patriots record to 3-0 and the three points allowed was the first time the Patriots have held an opponent to three points or fewer in September since 1997. As Boston.com reports on September 22, the defensive effort pleased coach Bill Belichick.
Although the offense improved this week, the defense knows they have to step up their game to keep the team in ballgames which they have done the first three weeks. The team was able to hold Buccaneers running back Doug Martin to 88 yards on 20 carries and cornerback Aqib Talib stepped up and was able to lock down Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson.
Tablib also had a key interception in the final minute of the second quarter that led to a Stephen Gostkowski field goal that extended the Patriots lead at the time to 17-3. Talib’s ability to play man on the other teams top receiver is something that has been missing from the Patriots defense in past years. Belichick was delighted with Talib’s play against a weapon like Jackson who went down later in the game with an injury.
“Being able to keep him out of the end zone and just limit his catches was huge for us. But Aqib did a great job, he worked hard, had a good week of preparation, he had a real good week of practice and it showed up in the game. He made that play in practice - the interception - a couple times, just the way it turned out in the game. It’s just a good example of practicing well leads to the game performance.”
It was also good to see the Patriots defense provide a stead pass rush as they sacked Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman three times.