By KATELYN MASSARELLI
Patriots fans swarmed into Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 5 for the face-off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Navy, white and red were the only colors anyone could see, except for the occasional red and black jerseys. Although, true Pats fans weren’t there to look at the crowd; their eyes were on the field towards the players in white.
The men in white didn’t get the same flamed entrance as the Bucs, but the reigning Superbowl champs don’t need much to get the job done. Every camera on the visitor’s side in the stadium were focused in on the star players, especially Tom Brady as he made his way to the field. This game would mark his 186th regular season win, tying with top quarterbacks Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
The Patriots and Bucs infrequent matchups usually start with a predictive outcome, but this game ended with a close-call and a lot of Patriots luck with a 19-14 win. There was no clear winner until the very last second. This was a close game that neither team deserved, with both of them making multiple mistakes and earning numerous penalties.
The Patriots were lucky. Their weak defense has performed sloppily throughout the regular season. It’s understandable. The retirement of outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich and having a few players on injured reserve means their defense is not the same as last season.
Nevertheless, the Patriots performed with more improvements than they had in their last upset against the Carolina Panthers. They held off the Bucs offense enough to help their own offense. The defense still played a sloppy game: riddled with penalties and with little to no discipline.
The team also suffered the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski with a thigh injury, who was questionable in the Patriots injury report until being put on the inactive list before the game. With wide receiver Julian Edelman already out for the season with an ACL tear, Brady found himself looking for other players like wide receiver Chris Hogan, who was able to secure the only touchdown pass for the Patriots. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski brought in four field goals to the team’s final score.
In the last 15 minutes, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston rallied his troops to make for a quick comeback, that they would have accomplished if it weren’t for three missed field goals by Bucs kicker Nick Folk. The Patriots took that luck for the win.
The obvious takeaway that we already knew before this game was that the young Bucs team is up-and-coming and is a force to be reckoned with. The Patriots knocked the Bucs down and showed them they aren’t ready to hang with the top dogs just yet, but their time is coming.
Jameis Winston is bound and determined to lead his team to stardom and he would have gotten there, had it not been for their kicker’s technical difficulties and the Patriots defense. This young team will have it’s time in the limelight and the elites of the league better bring their A-game.
The Patriots go up against the the New York Jets on Oct. 15, while the Buccaneers make a trip to Arizona to face off against the Cardinals.
Katelyn Massarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org