Brady throws for 303 yards, Patriots hold off Bucs 19-14
Brady throws for 303 yards, Patriots hold off Bucs 19-14
The Super Bowl champions rebounded from a last-second loss to Carolina, despite Brady turning the ball over twice — on his first interception in eight regular-season games and a fumble on one of Tampa Bay’s three sacks.
Neither of the mistakes led to points for Tampa Bay (2-2), which was unable to do much offensively until the fourth quarter.
Brady threw a 5-yard TD pass to Chris Hogan in the second quarter, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked field goals of 27, 23, 45 and 48 yards for the Patriots (3-2).
Jameis Winston rallied Tampa Bay late with an 18-yard TD pass to Cameron Brate that trimmed New England’s lead to 16-14 with 2:09 remaining. He marched the Bucs from his 25 to the Patriots 19 before throwing an incompletion on the final play.
It might not have come down to a last-second drive if not for another poor performance by Bucs kicker Nick Folk.
Folk missed two field goals and an extra-point before beating the New York Giants on a last-second kick last week. He missed three more field goals Thursday, including a 31-yarder that would have cut a nine-point deficit to six in the closing minutes.
With his 186th career regular-season win as a starter, Brady tied Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for the most by a quarterback in NFL history. He also has 25 postseason victories, including five Super Bowls.
Defensively, the Patriots entered the night on pace to yield more yards than any team in league history.
And, Winston and a young Tampa Bay offense that’s progressively gotten better since he was selected first overall in the 2015 draft was hoping to be the latest beneficiary of New England’s struggles.
Running back Doug Martin provided a lift in his return from a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancers with 74 yards rushing and one TD.
But one week after throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns without an interception and overcoming a pair of fourth-quarter deficits to beat the Giants, Winston was unable to move the ball consistently until the fourth quarter.
Winston finished 26 of 45 with 334 yards and no interceptions. DeSean Jackson had five receptions for 106 yards.
Playing without injured tight end Rob Gronkowski (thigh), Brady finished 30 of 40 with one interception.
Brady opened the game with four straight completions before throwing his first interception of the season, overthrowing a wide-open Hogan in the middle of the field to end a streak of 264 pass attempts without an interception.
Since 2003, New England is 44-6 in regular-season games following a loss. The Patriots have dropped back-to-back games only six times during that time span — in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012 and twice in 2015. As a starter, Brady is 44-10 in games following a loss.
Tiger Woods warns rivals he's ready to end Major drought
- Woods is without a Major win since 2008
- The American is without a victory on tour this season
Tiger Woods has warned his rivals that he ready to end his decade-plus Major drought as he prepares to tee it up at the Open.
The third Major of the year is taking place at Carnoustie with Woods now over six months into his comeback from back surgery. While he has recorded some impressive and unexpected results — he has finished in the top 20 six times this year — he is yet to register a victory, and this summer saw the 10th anniversary of his last Major victory, the 2008 US Open, come and go.
But the Big Beast said that the Open represents his best chance of winning another Major championship, and with some “cleaner golf” this might be the week be breaks his drought.
Speaking at Carnoustie two days before the championship’s first round, Woods said that the Open puts less emphasis on power, a good thing for a golfer entering middle age.
“You don’t have to be long to play at a links course,” said the 42-year-old, whose swing speed is still among the fastest on tour, despite his creeping age and serious back surgeries.
“As far as the long term, certainly I would say yes (it offers the best chance of winning another Major).”
But he knows the clock is ticking and that he will not always be able to keep up with the young bucks.
“The guys who have done well have been wonderful feel players and also wonderful lag putters,” he said, citing Tom Watson, who nearly won the Open at age 59 in 2009, and Greg Norman, who contended at Birkdale the year before at 53.
“It (winning in your 50s) certainly can be done.
“You get to places like Augusta National (site of the Masters) and it’s just a big ballpark and the course outgrows you, unfortunately.
“But links-style golf you can roll the ball, so distance becomes a moot point. Creativity plays such an important role.”
Woods will use a new two-iron this week to plot his way around Carnoustie, which remains rock hard and parched, despite a spot of light rain that fell yesterday morning.
Unless a deluge comes, however, even a two-iron will hardly be needed off the tee, he revealed, as the ball keeps rolling so far.
“I’m not going to hit many long clubs off the tees,” he said.
“There’s just not a lot of opportunities to hit driver, because the ball is going to be rolling 80 yards. It’s just hard to keep the ball in play, even something hitting four- and five-irons.”
The Open will be Woods’ 12th tournament of the year in his comeback from a spinal fusion 15 months ago, and his return has been a work in progress, sometimes two steps forward and one step back.
“Each tournament I keep feeling a little bit better because I’m starting to play some golf again,” he said.
“I’ve put myself up there in contention a couple of times. I just need to lay some cleaner golf, and who knows?”
Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth has revealed that he is back in the groove and thinks his game is in the shape for him to become the first golfer since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win back-to-back Opens.
The American has not won since his Open success last July, but he believes his game is back in place for the rigors of Carnoustie when battle commences tomorrow, having taken some time out.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple of weeks of not really working and it was nice to kind of start from scratch,” Spieth said.
“I feel like I’m in a position now with every part of my game, I attacked the places that really needed some strong work.
“That combination with an Open Championship, the way it needs to be played, I think, is a really good spot for me to kick back into shape and regain form.”
Fellow young guns such as PGA Champion Justin Thomas, Masters champion Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka, who defended his US Open title last month, will be fancying their chances.
For Koepka the vagaries of links golf will take some getting used to, not least because the heatwave the UK has been experiencing means the fairways are very firm and fast, with the ball is expected to travel long distances.
“It is good to be back, (the course is playing) firm and fast but you have to make that adjustment, it will be interesting,” the US Open champion said.
“The greens are soft so you could land the ball five yards short of the green and go over the back, or land on the front of the green and stop short of the pin.”