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Tom Brady steadies Patriots' offense in win over Bucs

Play by play, drive by drive, Tom Brady and his young targets are beginning to jell.

It's no finished product in New England, but the Patriots' offense -- in Sunday's 23-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- made strides from the horror show we saw in Week 2 against the New York Jets.

It didn't start well for Brady. More than once, he atypically held the ball too long on pass attempts. It's clear his young receivers haven't caught up to New England's complex, option-drenched route-running scheme, save for Kenbrell Thompkins.

The undrafted rookie flashed some of his preseason magic, hauling in a pair of first-half touchdowns from Brady in a game that saw New England's defense do the rest:

Here's what else we learned:

  1. One of Brady's uglier moments was ripped from Brandon Weeden's playbook: Early in the third, the Patriots quarterback locked in on rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld, tossing into double coverage for his only pick of the day. Thompkins and Julian Edelman were wide open; Sudfeld was double-covered. A rare poor decision that cost New England points.
  1. The Patriots' pass defense -- no, their entire defense -- is underrated. Bill Belichick has put together a unit filled with athletic contributors. They came up with four critical fourth-down stops and allowed just three points in the first half for the second straight game.
  1. Tampa's offense struggled. Josh Freeman was hurt by drops, but his spotty accuracy is killing the passing game. Rookie Mike Glennon was spotted warming up on the sideline in the second half. Greg Schiano stuck with Freeman, but a quarterback switch is coming. Bank on it.
  1. New England's ground game overpowered Tampa's run defense for 156 yards on 33 carries (4.7 average). But my favorite run of the day? How about Brady pushing his way for a first-down carry on third-and-1 from the Tampa 8. He came into the season 88 for 91 on rushing attempts with one or two yards to go. Brady's successful attempt led to his second scoring strike to Thompkins.
  1. One reason the Buccaneers' air game melted: Vincent Jackson left in the second half with a rib injury and never returned. We'll keep an eye on this one.

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