FOXBORO — The Patriots pushed out to 3-0 for the first time since 2007 when they knocked off the Bucs 23-3 Sunday afternoon in Foxboro. Tom Brady finished 25-for-36 for 225 yards, two touchdowns and one pick in the victory, while getting solid performances from rookie receivers Kenbrell Thompkins (three catches, 41 yards, two touchdowns) and Aaron Dobson (seven catches, 52 yards). In addition, Brandon Bolden had three carries for 51 yards and five catches for 49 yards.
Here are a few quick notes:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
• The Patriots saw Dobson and Thompkins take strides forward, particularly in the first half. The finest series of the afternoon for the New England offense came midway through the second quarter when Brady guided the Patriots on an 11-play, 66-yard drive that consumed 5:13 and ended with an impressive 16-yard pass from the quarterback to Thompkins for the touchdown. (On the score, Thompkins showed a knack for picking up some yards after the catch on the way to the end zone.) On the series, New England got 37 of the 66 yards on passes to Thompkins and Dobson, and Brady hit Dobson on the third- and fourth-down conversions on the drive. The Patriots added a second touchdown on a 10-play, 62-yard drive that took 3:33 late in the second quarter and ended with a five-yard touchdown pass over the middle from Brady to Thompkins. It was the first time the Patriots had a rookie pass catcher account for two touchdown receptions in a game since Rob Gronkowski had a pair of touchdown catches in a December 2010 game against the Bills.
• You can deride the competition all you want, but the Patriots’ defense again played well. New England pitched a shutout. The Patriots have put together an impressive streak — including last week against the Jets, New England has now gone five plus quarters without allowing a touchdown. (The last one the Patriots gave up came with 5:05 left in the third against New York.) Aqib Talib — who effectively took Vincent Jackson out of the game before the Tampa receiver departed in the third quarter because of a rib injury — had a pick, his third of the season. (Jackson had three catches for 34 yards on the afternoon.) The New England run defense bottled up Doug Martin, allowing just 88 yards on the day. In all, they’ve allowed 34 points through three games, an average of 11.3 points per game. A very good start to the season for the Patriots defense.
• The Patriots running game was a little spotty, but New England got a very impressive performance out of Brandon Bolden to start the season. The running back, who was inactive for the first two games of the season because of a nagging knee injury that dogged him for a large part of the summer, ended up with an impressive afternoon.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• At the start of the third quarter, the Patriots maneuvered their way into the Tampa Bay red zone, but on a third-down play, the quarterback threw a pick, taking at least three points off the board for New England. It was at the end of an odd series for Brady, who appeared to misfire on a couple of pass attempts to Dobson and Thompkins while operating in the shadow of the Tampa Bay goalposts. The Patriots picked up three on their next possession after a Tampa Bay punt, but misfires in the red zone are never something you want to see from the offense.
• Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer left in the second half with a foot injury, and did not return. Marcus Cannon finished up in his spot.
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