LONDON -- More decisive in his movements and more in command of the Patriots' scheme, Brandon Meriweather took another positive step in his progression toward becoming one of the NFL's upper-echelon safeties Sunday.
Meriweather's 39-yard interception return for a touchdown on the Buccaneers' first drive set the tone for the day.
Yes, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson was woefully inaccurate with the pass. At the same time, Meriweather's explosion out of his break and ability to read the play -- which he'd picked up in film study when watching the Buccaneers last week against Carolina -- represent signs of how far he's come.
The interception return for a touchdown was the Patriots' first since December of 2007.
"We've been stressing that since [training] camp," said Meriweather, who hadn't scored a touchdown since joining the team as a first-round draft choice in 2007. "Coach always says whenever you get the ball you want to put it in the end zone. The less the offense has to score, it's even better. That's just a plus."
Meriweather has been a plus for the Patriots this season, one of the only holdovers in a secondary that has been turned over.
"I think Brandon's had a real good year for us, from the beginning of training camp he's really been a leader for us, making calls, making adjustments, sometimes taking harder responsibilities with the safeties," coach Bill Belichick said. "There are a lot of plays he makes that don't show up on the stat sheet. Today's plays did."
Meriweather added a second interception on the Buccaneers' second drive, gathering in a long pass intended for receiver Michael Clayton over the middle and returning it 31 yards before handing to Vince Wilfork's wife, Bianca, who had been asking him for an interception since 2007.
Mike Reiss first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. From 2005 to 2009, he covered the Patriots for The Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004. Send any questions or comments for Mike to his mailbag. Follow him on Twitter here.
Chris Forsberg has been reporting on the Boston sports scene since 1999. With his video camera in tow, Forsberg covered everything from Massachusetts high school sports to Boston's pro sports teams. Follow him on Twitter and send questions to his mailbag.