By Harris Rubenstein 9-22-13
Fans had plenty to cheer about in Foxborough today. By the time the final whistle blew the New England Patriots had defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-3.
The team as a whole played well, but it was the defense that showed once again it has potential.
Although New England has yet to play an elite offense, the Pats’ defense has showed significant improved from past years. One of the biggest components of the turnaround has been starting cornerback Aqib Talib.
As the team’s best cornerback, Talib is given the responsibility of guarding the opposing teams top wide out each game. This week he was matched up against Vincent Jackson.
Jackson is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s best receivers, but was held to only 34 yards on just 3 receptions. Talib’s presence on the defensive side of the ball has been huge for the team as the Patriots have gone 9-2 since he was traded to New England last November.
Offensively, the Pats’ passing attack finally found its rhythm. New England’s young receivers were getting open last week against the New York Jets, but were unable to hold onto the football. However, this wasn’t the case against the Buccaneers. Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Tompkins combined for 10 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns today. Last week, the rookie duo combined for only 5 catches.
“They’re doing a great job. They’ve worked really hard to understand what we’re trying to do on a weekly basis,” Brady said about his rookie receivers after the game. “I’ve thrown a lot of balls to those guys [Thomkins, Dobson] and we’ve spent a lot of time talking about offensive football and situational football. We’ve done a pretty good job in situational football which has really helped us…It’s a big reason why we’re 3-0.”
Next week New England will travel to Atlanta to put its undefeated record on the line against the Falcons. Although Atlanta has started the season 1-2, stopping Matt Ryan and the Falcons will be the Pats’ toughest task of the season thus far.