Hours before the Patriots beat the Buccaneers 23-3 in Gillette Stadium, an NFL Network report said that quarterback Tom Brady had been calling and texting former teammates and wide receivers Deion Branch and Brandon Lloyd, presumably in an effort to talk them out of retirement.
Brady denied the report after the game, and perhaps for good reason. After a frustrating Week 2 win over the Jets that saw Brady misfire on more passes than we've seen in years, mostly because of a rookie receivers corps that was forced into action and out of their depth, the young group grew up Sunday against an outmanned Bucs team.
Rookie second-rounder Aaron Dobson had seven catches for 52 yards and undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins added three more catches for 41, including two touchdowns.
“I thought we played a good game overall, from the passing game to the running game,” Thompkins said, via the Boston Herald. “From watching the film and everything, we knew that it was going to be a split safety team and a zone team. So we had been preaching all week in practice to get open and run great routes, and great cornerbacks like Darrelle Revis and those guys, and get the timing down with the quarterback.”
And Dobson added: “I’m just trying to improve every day. I had a good game, but I’m still trying to get better,” said Dobson, who was targeted 10 times. “The long week really helped us and it showed out there.”
This fortuitous turn of events comes a week after Brady admitted his body language during the Jets game left a lot to be desired.
"I have to do a better job with my body language," Brady said at the time. ""I definitely can improve that. I wouldn't say it's a real strong point of mine right now. We'll just try to keep doing better. That's what we've got to do.”
On Sunday, a more measured Brady was pleased with where the Patriots were at this point in the season but obviously not satisfied.
“It’s a week-to-week thing in the NFL, and you have to put it in every week," he said. "And every week the urgency is (increased) because there are less games and there is less you can do about your season. Just to get to 3-0, we’d only done it once in the last (eight) years, which is a pretty good stat. I’d love to get to 4-0.”
And to do that, the Pats will have to travel to Atlanta and beat the Falcons, a team that lost Sunday to the AFC East's other 3-0 team: the Miami Dolphins.