The New England Patriots came into Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers allowing a league-worst 456.8 yards per game and an average of 32 points per game through the first month of the regular season.
They held the Buccaneers to just 14 points but had to sweat out a final throw to the end zone to escape with a 19-14 victory in Tampa Bay.
Jameis Winston‘s last second pass for O.J. Howard was off-target and incomplete to enable the Patriots to hold on. Winston and the Buccaneers had moved the ball 56 yards over the final minute of play to set up one last-ditch chance to steal the victory. Instead, the Patriots won another close game with little margin to spare.
Nick Folk missing three field goals didn’t exactly help the Buccaneers chances either.
Trailing 16-7, the Buccaneers had the chance to draw within reach with less than seven minutes remaining. Instead, they missed several chances to close the gap. Cameron Brate dropped a touchdown pass from Jameis Winston on a first-and-goal from the Patriots’ 9-yard line. Two plays later, a Winston touchdown run was wiped out by an illegal hands to the face penalty on center Evan Smith that forced another field goal try.
After a Tom Brady fumble gave Tampa Bay good field position, Folk missed wide left from 31 yards to keep the deficit at nine points with 5:36 remaining. Folk also missed from 56 and 49 yards on the night as his tenure in Tampa Bay may be coming to an end. He’s missed five kicks in the last two games.
However, the Buccaneers wouldn’t roll over.
Winston and Brate would connect for an 18-yard touchdown on the Buccaneers next possession to finally close the gap to 16-14. After the Patriots recovered an onside kick attempt, Stephen Gostkowski converted a 48-yard field goal with 1:10 left to force Tampa Bay to need a touchdown to win.
While the Patriots’ porous defense still allowed 409 yards, they did just enough to keep the Buccaneers from putting too many points on the board.
Brady posted yet another 300-yard passing game, throwing for 303 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Winston passed for 334 yards with a touchdown for the Buccaneers.