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Patriots pound Tampa at Wembley

Brandon Meriweather

Watch Meriweather's interception touchdown at Wembley

By Martin Gough
BBC Sport at Wembley Stadium

New England took their total points haul to a massive 94 in two weeks as they inflicted a 35-7 drubbing on Tampa Bay at Wembley Stadium.

Inexperienced Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson threw three interceptions before half time.

Tom Brady threw three touchdowns, Wes Welker scoring the first of those as one of 10 catches for 107 yards.

Brandon Meriweather made two interceptions in the first six minutes, running the first back for a score.

Fresh from a record-equalling 59-0 thrashing of Tennessee in snow-bound Massachusetts last Sunday, the Patriots showed some ill-effects from the seven-hour flight and four-hour time difference that both teams endured.

New England v Tampa Bay

Sights and sounds from Wembley

But it was not enough to put them off against the lowly Bucs, still one of three winless teams in the NFL this season.

It was the second defeat of the day for the Glazer family, who own the Buccaneers and Manchester United.

Brothers Bryan and Joel Glazer, sons of Malcolm, were heading to Wembley while United were losing 2-0 to Liverpool.

After exciting finishes in the first two years of NFL games in London, the result here looked predictable within 19 minutes of play, by which time New England had scored 21 unanswered points.

Only an off-key showing from Brady and an ineffective running game prevented the Patriots from scoring more.

Perhaps inspired by the thousands of free flags handed out and a raucous sound system, another capacity Wembley crowd of 84,254 began the game firmly behind the Buccaneers, for whom this was officially a home game.

Welsh former super middleweight boxing world champion Joe Calzaghe and BBC Radio One DJ Vernon Kay were their honorary captains.

But the Bucs offence did not pack the punch of the Welshman and were soon in deep trouble.

On just the fifth play of the game, Patriots safety Meriweather stepped in front of an errant, floated Johnson pass and returned it 39 yards to score.

Less than four minutes later, Meriweather was in the right place to collect his second interception of the night and, although the Patriots could not capitalise, they were soon on the scoreboard again.

Wembley Stadium
A capacity crowd packed into Wembley for the latest London NFL game

Randy Moss's 37-yard cross-field reception set up a 14-yard catch-and-run for a Welker touchdown.

The Patriots were below the sort of form that saw them win a record 16 games in a season two years ago, before their upset Super Bowl defeat by the New York Giants.

Brady, who missed all but 15 minutes of last season with a knee injury, fired two interceptions in the first half.

In between, though, the ineffectiveness of Tampa Bay's defence was perfectly underlined when Sam Aiken collected what should have been a routine short pass, slipped a tackle and ran in to score from 54 yards out.

Before the half ended, Johnson found some momentum as he connected with successive passes to Antonio Bryant to total 51 yards and a touchdown.

But Darius Butler, the third-choice cornerback responsible for covering Bryant, gained a measure of revenge when he snagged another attempt from Johnson as the clock expired on the first half.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Tim Love

The tactic that brought Aiken's touchdown - lining a receiver up against a linebacker - proved effective again with the first drive of the second half as tight end Ben Watson collected a Brady pass from 33 yards out.

Fans began to stream out of the stadium with nine minutes 25 seconds left in the game, after Maroney ran over right tackle from a yard out to cap an 89-yard drive and score the Patriots' fifth touchdown.

They missed little as Buccaneers back-up quarterback Josh Freeman struggled to better Johnson and the Patriots were content to run out the clock.


Patriots coach Bill Belichick:

"It was a great way to end the week. I'm really happy with what they did. Wes Welker came through like he always does and all our receivers played well.

"Tom works hard every week and is such a positive for the side.

"It's an awesome stadium, the surface was good and there was no wind inside even though it was windy outside. It was loud and there was a lot of energy."

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady:

"I'm happy about the outcome of the game after we travelled as many miles as we did.

"Bad plays happen at times but I was happy with the way we responded in the second half.

"Hopefully the fans enjoyed it. It wasn't as close as they've had in past years."

Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris:

"You come out here to London and you would like to get a win and we didn't play as well as we would like to.

"Tom's the guy that changed the game. When you have a great quarterback like that, that's what he does and that's what he will do for you."

Buccaneers offensive lineman Jeff Faine:

"It was just not good enough. We have to do simple things to stay on the pace and we're just not doing that.

"The atmosphere was unique. For the most part it wasn't one-sided, the fans were cheering good plays, they seemed intelligent and football-savvy."



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see also
New England v Tampa Bay photos
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Patriots in form for Wembley game
23 Oct 09 |  American Football
London 'may stage four NFL games'
22 Oct 09 |  London
Giant German makes draft history
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Wembley to re-lay turf for finals
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Saints pip San Diego at Wembley
26 Oct 08 |  American Football
Giants beat Miami at wet Wembley
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NFL fixtures
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NFL results
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NFL standings
26 Oct 07 |  American Football
NFL in a nutshell
19 Oct 05 |  American Football
American Football on the BBC
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