By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
TAMPA BAY - As I started this post to explain how drastically different and refreshingly nasty the Patriots defense looked, Andre Carter nearly sawed Buccaneers backup quarterback Josh Johnson in half. As I typed that sentence, I looked up to see Jerod Mayo screaming off the right edge and taking Johnson to the ground at the end of another pressure. Bill Belichick has unleashed the hounds. And the hounds, they were fast and angry, my friends. At halftime, the score is 28-0. Tom Brady led the Patriots to touchdowns onfour of sixfirst-half drives. The first two scores were absurdly easy tosses to Aaron Hernandez and Chad Ochocinco. The next two were 1-yard touchdown runs by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Buccaneers, a team that beat the Chiefs 25-0 last week, provided very little defensive resistance until the second quarter when they started to get some pressure on Brady. He finished the half 11 of 19 for 118 yards. The Patriots' ground attack was impressive. Danny Woodhead and Green-Ellis combined for 116 yards on 16 carries. A lot of that was creditable to the offensive line which manhandled the Bucs defensive line on the ground. Welker had five catches for 56 yards and Aaron Hernandez had three for 42. Ochocinco was targeted five times. He had two catches for 14 yards. He got obliterated on a leaping attempt in the first quarter drawing a 15-yard flag. He also seemed to catch an earful from Belichick for dogging it downfield on a 39-yard run by Woodhead. But the defense was the story. With the two-gaping style apparently in mothballs until further notice, the Patriots were invading the Bucs backfield all half. Carter and Mayo were particularly outstanding. Carter, coming off the right edge of the defense, consistently brought the edge pressure this team's been dying for. Eric Moore and Mark Anderson were the beneficiaries of Carter's backside pressure as Bucs starter Josh Freeman had to scramble right and bring the ball down to avoid Carter. Mayo, meanwhile, was shooting off the edges - one quarterback hit from both the right and left edge - and shooting up the middle. He had two sacks for 17 yards and two passes defensed. The Bucs ran 28 plays and gained 73 yards. They had four first downs. They were 1 for 8 on third down. NOTES Brandon Meriweather started at safety along with Patrick Chung and was replaced midway through the quarter by Sergio Brown. LB Dane Fletcher left the game with a thumb injury in the first quarter. S Bret Lockett appeared to injure his groin on a punt return and was carted off. Gerard Warren had a 3-yard tackle for loss with a swim move that put him on top of LeGarrette Blount when the running back was handed the ball. Nate Solder gave up a sack in the second quarter when defensive end Tim Crowder came with a bull rush and then discarded the rookie tackle.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.
By Tom E. Curran