An emphatic "NO!"
Blount and his comrades came into Thursday night's preseason matchup riding a wave of confidence just a week removed from shutting out the defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, but many of the Buccaneers had expressed excitement about seeing how they would shape up against one of the leagues preeminent clubs.
The results were not pretty.
Tom Brady, making his first preseason start, showed why he is a perennial MVP candidate while humbling the young Buccaneers en-route to a monster first half. Brady led the Patriots on four separate touchdown drives in the first half, including two passing touchdowns to tight end Aaron Hernandez and newly acquired Chad Ochocinco, whose first catch as a Patriot came on a 8-yard touchdown strike. The leagues reigning MVP would finish his evening with 118 yards on 11 of 19 passing attempts.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers "youngry" defense looked more gassed and outmatched than hungry. Patriots running back Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis consistently hammered through the Buccaneers inexperienced defensive line, racking up 51 yards on 11 carries and two scores, while Danny Woodhead added 63 yards of his own on just 5 carries including a 29-yard scamper that could have been worse if not for a touchdown saving tackle by Bucs safety Sean Jones.
Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who remained relatively clean last week in Kansas City, was bruised and battered by the relentless Patriots front four all night. Freeman tallied just 33 yards on 5 of 10 passing, while failing to move the Buccaneers offense anywhere near the red-zone as the Bucs starters were shutout for the entire first half by the Patriots first team defense. Backup quarterback Josh Johnson found a bit more success moving the ball in the second half but by then the game was well out of reach and the Patriots were playing second and third string defenders.
Preston Parker lead Tampa Bay in receiving with 44 yards on 2 catches, while Dezmon Briscoe who had a break out game in Kansas City was held to just 1 catch and 7 yards receiving. LeGarrette Blount gained only 1 yard on 4 rushing attempts.
Perhaps the only positive that can be taken from this contest is that it should serve as a wake up call to a young club that may have been getting a little to high. The Patriots came in with a gameplan and executed it to perfection, leaving the Buccaneers defense looking slow, outmatched, and out-physicaled. If the Buccaneers wan't to take that next step and elevate themselves to a playoff contender they will need to play harder, faster, and stronger against competition of New England's caliber.