Posted on October 6, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the Patriots and Buccaneers kicked off Thursday night, fans were eager to see how each team would play. Would the Patriots rebound from last week’s loss? Could the Buccaneers prove they are ready and able to step up and compete with the best?
Hopes were high for both teams. In the end, it was the Patriots that came out ahead on the scoreboard. But did either team prove the point they had hoped to make?
The easy thing to do would be to give the Patriots defense credit for holding Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay offense in check for most of the evening. But Tampa Bay’s lack of success on offense can be attributed just as easily to poor play by Winston. He struggled to connect with his receivers for most of the night.
Yes, he ended the game with 334 yards passing. But most of that came in the final quarter of the game (225 yards), and he only completed 26 of his 46 passes all night.
After the game, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sounded as if he was pleased overall with his offense.
“They had 100 yards in the first half. They moved the ball some. We made some plays. They made some plays,” Belichick added. “(Giving up) a lot fewer points, you got a chance to win.”
They were certainly better than they were a week before when they gave up 32 points and 456 yards of offense. But the near total failure in the fourth quarter has to be concerning. Had it not been for a miscommunication between Winston and his rookie tight end, O.J. Howard, in the end, zone as time expired, the Buccaneers may have pulled off the come-from-behind win.
“You can’t play them over again,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said after the game (ESPN). “We let this one slip away. It was a good opportunity.”
What makes this one really frustrating for Tampa Bay fans is they could have won despite the offensive struggle. That is if Nick Folk had made his kicks.
The veteran placekicker had a terrible night missing all three field goal attempts, one from 56-yards out, 49-yards, and 31-yards. He missed two field goals and an extra point the week before.
“I left points out there. We should have won the game. 20-19. This one’s on me,” Folk said (ESPN). “[It was a] bad week, starting from last Sunday to today. Bad week. I’ve just gotta keep my head down, keep working and try to get better.”
Almost winning is the same as losing. Just like nearly losing, in the case of the Patriots, is the same as winning. But going forward, fans of both teams have to wonder what they are going to get from their clubs going forward.
New England’s offense is still one of the best, but with how their defense is playing Tom Brady will have to perfect if they are going to win. He’s been perfect before, so it is entirely possible. But with a lesser group of supporting characters this season, do they want to bank on that?
Fans had hoped that Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers could turn the corner and become a playoff caliber team this year. It now appears that they may be a year away from that still. They have gotten better and better with each passing week. But good teams take advantage of opportunities like the one they had on Thursday Night Football.
New England will have another test on their hands next week when they face the New York Jets. Winston and the Buccaneers will have another challenge on hand when they head to Arizona to face the Cardinals.