Brady leads Pats to 31-14 rout of Bucs

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Brady leads Pats to 31-14 rout of Bucs

By Jimmy Toscano
CSNNE.com

TAMPA BAY - Unlike last week, the stars came out to play for the Patriots Thursday night.

But just like last week, the Pats crushed the opponent early and often.

Summary and statistics

The Patriots, led by Tom Brady, scored three touchdowns on their first three possessions in the first quarter, and led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-0 at halftime, en route to their 31-14 win.

And it wasn't even that close.

With the Bucs receiving first, the Pats defense took it to Josh Freeman and the Bucs offensive line -- and they took it to them hard.

It was Jerod Mayo, Rob Ninkovich, Kyle Love, and Andre Carter putting tons of pressure on Freeman at the start, and the Bucs punted after three downs and just one yard.

Consider that foreshadowing.

That one-yard drive would be the Bucs' longest drive of the entire first quarter. The Pats defense literally pushed the Bucs backwards on their next three drives (negative-three, negative-seven, and negative-nine yards).

Finally, Tampa Bay got some positive yardage early on in the second quarter -- five yards -- before they punted again.

All in all the Bucs punted six times in six possessions in the first half, accumulating a total of just 35 yards.

The Pats, on the other hand, almost doubled Tampa's total first half yardage on their first drive.

Brady found a wide open Aaron Hernandez streaking to the end zone for the 16-yard TD, after a well-executed 64-yard drive started by Brady to Welker, and continued by a Danny Woodhead 29-yard run.

But that wouldn't be it for Brady and the starters. On the very next drive, Brady, rarely under much pressure, threw the ball six times, connecting on four, and hitting Chad Ochocinco on the third pass attempt between the two on an eight-yard TD.

With the Pats up 14-0, the hurt was just setting in.

A pair of BenJarvus Green-Ellis touchdowns would make it 28-0 at the half, and with the majority of the starters pulled for the second half, it was a job well done for the Pats in Tampa Bay.

Brady ended the night 11-for-19 for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Welker had 5receptions for 56 yards, Hernandez 3 catches for 42 yards and touchdown, and Ochocinco 2 receptions for 14 yards and a touchdown.

Steven Ridley led all rushers with 84 yards on 14 carries, while Green-Ellis added 51 yards on 11 carries.

As expected, Ryan Mallett took over for Brady to start the second half, and the results weren't great for the rookie QB out of Arkansas.

On his opening drive, an under-pressure Mallett lobbed a ball that ended up right in the hands of Buccaneers cornerback Elbert Mack. Mack took the ball to the house to get the Buccaneers on the board with 12.12 left to play in the third quarter.

On the night, Mallett went 9-for-14 for 71 yards and one interception in five drives with the Pats. They scored a field goal during his time as QB.

It wasn't until 9:34 left in the fourth quarter when the Bucs offense scored on a two-yard run by Allen Bradford that capped off a 12-play 84-yard drive.

Danny Woodhead rushed for 63 yards on five carries, but was hit hard covering a punt in the fourth quarter, and left the game with what appeared to be concussion symptoms.

The Patriots will play the Lions in Detroit next Saturday.

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.