What we learned: Patriots lean on defense in victory

The Patriots are used to dramatic endings by now. This time, it was the team’s beleaguered defense that stepped up late in a 19-14 victory in Tampa.

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston’s pass from the 19-yard line fell incomplete as time expired, a fitting ending on a night where the NFL’s last-ranked defense held Tampa to seven points and under 200 yards entering the fourth quarter. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has likely seen enough wild comebacks and high-scoring shootouts lately to last a lifetime, so this old-school affair might have felt like a thing of beauty to the veteran coach.

Now 3-2, the return to form for the Patriots’ secondary was the best news for Belichick on a night that included other familiar, troubling elements of this inconsistent Patriots season. Tom Brady was hit too much. The running game struggled to salt the game away. But one week after the Patriots’ defense only forced one punt, the team didn’t allow a second touchdown until there was just over two minutes left. When Brady turned the ball over Thursday night — twice for the first time since the

Article source: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000857276/article/what-we-learned-patriots-lean-on-defense-in-victory

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