In just a few days, one of the biggest weaknesses for the Patriots became a strength - the defense. Backed by a solid effort from that unit, the Patriots squeaked out a 19-14 win over the up-and-coming Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
It came down to the final play, as the Patriots stopped Jameis Winston and company deep in New England territory with three seconds left to hang on. Winston finished with 334 yards through the air, the fifth time this season the Patriots have allowed an opposing quarterback to throw for over 300 yards.
Tampa's Mike Evans was held to just 49 yards on five catches but DeSean Jackson had a nice night. The former Eagle and Redskin caught four passes for 82 yards including a 41-yard completion, the biggest play of the game for either team.
Despite the defense tightening up, the offensive line was still a big problem. Tom Brady was sacked three times, strip sacked once and was hit six times. Nate Solder was especially bad, picking up a couple drive-killing penalties early in the game. Brady also threw his first interception of the season and his first on the road since 2015.
Both teams struggled to create offense and were forced to rely on their kickers to put points on the board. The Pats were successful. The Bucs, not so much.
Stephen Gostkowski hit four field goals to put the game out of reach, while Nick Folk missed two long field goals and an easy 31-yarder midway through the fourth quarter. Those misses were the difference.
With the win, the Patriots improve to 3-2 and will travel to the Meadowlands to face the Jets next Sunday.