Taking a look at the television copy of Thursday night's preseason game against the Buccaneers and offering some second quarter observations:
1) Coming into the game in place of Dane Fletcher, MLB Gary Guyton looked stronger against the run than he did in his preseason debut against the Jaguars. On the second play of the quarter, Guyton met FB Erik Lorig at the line and quickly shed the block, wrapping up RB LaGarette Blount for a short gain. RDE Andre Carter also read the pump-fake draw play well to not get caught upfield and help force Blount back into Guyton. This set-up a third-and-long where a blitzing WLB Jerod Mayo came in free to combine on a sack of QB Josh Freeman with RDE Mark Anderson and LDE Rob Ninkovich, who both beat their blockers around the edge.
2) The Patriots' pass protection began to falter early in the second quarter, with pass rushers getting at Brady after two consecutive throws. The first came from RDE Adrian Clayborn, who stunted inside on LG Logan Mankins before beating Mankins back to the outside, falling into Brady's right leg. The second came from LDT Gerald McCoy, who beat RG Dan Connolly on a swim move to the outside and hammered Brady after a pass attempt to WR Chad Ochocinco. On the ensuing third-and-long, QB Tom Brady was flushed from the pocket after some stunting action from the Buccaneers' defensive line broke down the pass protection; Brady, on the run, was essentially forced to throw it away.
3) RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis' touchdown run that was negated by a holding call on C Dan Koppen was set-up on solid blocking from LT Nate Solder and a pulling Connolly, as well as some strength shown by Mankins on an inside seal block. When Green-Ellis officially scored two plays later, it was a solid outside seal block by TE Will Yeatman and a poor angle played by RCB Elbert Mack that allowed Green-Ellis to walk into the end zone.
4) The Patriots' defensive line continued to generate pressure into the second quarter, with QB Josh Johnson flushed out of the pocket on a third-and-20 by a stunting RDE Ninkovich, but still able to gain the first down on a 23-yard completion to WR Sammie Stroughter. On the next play, Andre Carter was the one to create the pressure, beating LT James Lee to the outside and hitting Johnson as he threw; the pass was nearly intercepted by Ninkovich.
5) Even using a four-man line, the Patriots weren't afraid to bring linebackers on blitzes throughout the game. This paid dividends in the pass rush, such as a third-and-15 late in the second quarter. Both LBs Mayo and Tracy White blitzed out of the nickel package, creating a 6-on-6 rush where Johnson had to avoid rushers before delivering a wobbly pass into the secondary.