Patriots flatten Tampa Bay to go 3-0
Tom Brady threw a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins and host New England overcame a slow start to flatten winless Tampa Bay, 23-3.
Brady threw for a modest 225 yards with one interception and Stephen Gostkowski kicked three field goals as the Patriots (3-0) remained undefeated with a comfortable victory after winning their first two games by a total of five points. Thompkins, an undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati, finished with three catches for 41 yards and his first two career TDs and fellow rookie Aaron Dobson added seven catches for 52 yards.
Beleaguered quarterback Josh Freeman had his second straight sub-par outing, finishing 19-for-41 for 236 yards and a costly late interception as the Buccaneers dropped to 0-3. Doug Martin ran for 88 yards on 20 carries for Tampa Bay, which managed only 62 total yards in the second half until its final drive with the game out of reach.
The Buccaneers dominated early, but Rian Lindell's missed 38-yard field goal, two failed fourth-down conversions and a pair of dropped TD passes were killers. The Patriots finally came to life when Brady capped back-to-back scoring drives with TD throws of 16 and 5 yards to Thompkins before a late interception by ex-Buccaneer Aqib Talib led to Gostkowski's 53-yarder as time expired in the half for a 17-3 edge.
New England was on the verge of turning the game into an early knockout on its opening drive of the second half, but Buccaneers safety Mark Barron picked off Brady in the end zone. It just delayed the inevitable as Brady led consecutive scoring drives culminating in field goals by Gostkowski for a 23-3 lead with 8:19 to play.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Brady's first scoring strike to Thompkins gave him a touchdown pass in 51 consecutive games, three shy of tying New Orleans QB Drew Brees' NFL record. ... Buccaneers leading WR Vincent Jackson suffered a rib injury and finished with three receptions for 34 yards. ... Gostkowski's 53-yarder to end the half tied his career long and was his eighth career field goal of at least 50 yards, tying the franchise mark held by Adam Vinatieri.