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It can’t be considered “mistake-free football” for the Pats in Sunday’s 35-7 win over Tampa Bay, but New England’s play was still far superior compared to the listless performance from the Bucs, earning New England their first road win of the season.
In front of 84,000+ fans at Wembley Stadium in England, the Patriots were able to get an early lead, and they capitalized on turnovers while Tampa wasn’t scoring off the turnovers they created. Coach Bill Belichick surely has a laundry list of things to work on with this team over the bye week, but with this team going into their bye week at 5-2, Pats fans have to be satisfied with the team’s overall performance thus far.
In the team’s solid win over the still-winless Buccaneers, we highlight three Pats players that led the way to the Week 7 victory.
In just his third NFL season, the former Miami Hurricane is quickly becoming an upper-echelon safety in the league. Meriweather got the scoring rolling early for New England, intercepting Bucs QB Josh Johnson on just the fifth play of the game, returning it 39 yards for what all the hip sportscasters call a “pick-6.” He also added a second interception later in the first half, to go along with two tackles on the day. He, along with Jerod Mayo, are the emotional leaders of this surprisingly successful Pats defense, giving fans plenty of reasons to believe the team’s defense is in good hands for years to come.
It took a while, but Sunday’s flashy 54-yard catch on a drag route early in the second quarter marked the first touchdown in Sam Aiken’s 7-year NFL career. Aiken, who can generally be found solely on special teams, has stepped in as the team’s third wide receiver, following rookie Julian Edelman’s arm injury and the release of veteran Joey Galloway. Aiken only had two catches on the day, but I’m sure he’ll remember that big one for years to come. We saw very little from him early on this year, but all indications point to Aiken being a viable third option in the passing game for the foreseeable future.
From the #3 passing option to the #1 man. Welker continued his dominance for New England in “Jolly Old England,” hauling in 10 balls on the day (every pass that he was targeted on), good for 107 yards on the day. He also saw the end zone for the third straight Sunday, catching a 14-yard first quarter pass from Tom Brady to give the Pats a 14-0 lead. He is the spark plug of the New England offense. As the Pats go, so goes Welker. Why defenses don’t try harder to take Welker out of the game is beyond me.