TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady tied the NFL record for regular season wins with some timely help from a porous New England defense showing signs of improvement.
Brady threw for 303 yards and one touchdown, and the Patriots held off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-14 to rebound from a last-second loss that left them searching for answers to defensive woes.
The Super Bowl champions rebounded from a 33-30 loss to Carolina, despite Brady turning the ball over twice — on his first interception in eight regular-season games and a fumble on one of Tampa Bay’s three sacks.
On a night when the offense gained 402 yards but only got in the end zone once, Brady lauded the defense, which slowed the Bucs down just enough to get the victory.
“They kept us in it all night,” Brady said. “I wish we could have scored more points offensively, but the defense really held their own.”
Neither of Brady’s turnovers led to points for the Bucs (2-2), who were was unable to do much offensively until the fourth quarter, when their comeback bid was hindered by two missed field goals.
Brady threw a 5-yard TD pass to Chris Hogan in the second quarter, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked field goals of 27, 23, 45 and 48 yards for the Patriots (3-2).
Jameis Winston rallied Tampa Bay late with an 18-yard TD pass to Cameron Brate that trimmed New England’s lead to 16-14 with 2:09 remaining.
After Gostkowski’s fourth field goal put the Patriots up by five, Winston marched the Bucs from his 25 to the Patriots 19 before throwing an incompletion on the final play.
It might not have come down to a last-minute drive if not for another poor performance by Tampa Bay’s Nick Folk.
The veteran kicker missed two field goals and an extra-point before beating the New York Giants on a last-second kick last week. He missed three more field goals Thursday night, including a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter that would have cut a nine-point deficit to six with just less than six minutes to go.
“I left points out there,” said Folk, who also misfired from 56 yards just before halftime and 49 yards on the second play of the fourth quarter. “We should have won the game 20-19, so this one’s on me.”
Playing without injured star tight end Rob Gronkowski (thigh), Brady was 30-of-40 passing with one interception. Danny Amendola had eight catches for 77 yards and Hogan had eight for 74 yards.
Winston threw for 225 yards in the fourth quarter, finishing 26-of-45 with 334 yards and zero interceptions.