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It took a trip across the Atlantic for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to get their first road victory of the season. For the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the change of scenery produced yet another loss.
Brady threw three touchdown passes and had more than 300 yards as the Patriots (5-2) beat the Buccaneers 35-7 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday in the NFL's third regular-season game at the iconic London venue.
The Bucs, who gave up a home game to play in London, fell to 0-7 and saw their losing streak extended to 11 games overall.
The Patriots were coming off a 59-0 win over the Tennessee Titans in which Brady tossed six TD passes. New England wasn't as overpowering this time, and Brady even threw two interceptions in an uneven first-half performance.
But, with a 39-yard score on an interception return by safety Brandon Meriweather on the fifth play of the game, New England was always in control against the league's 27th-ranked defense.
Brady had TD passes to Wes Welker, Sam Aiken and Benjamin Watson. He finished 23 of 32 for 308 yards and was replaced late in the game by Brian Hoyer. Laurence Maroney went over from 1 yard out with 9:25 left to complete the scoring.
"I'm feeling great," Brady said. "I keep rolling. That's two wins in a row. We went out there and put two touchdowns on the board there in the second half. We had plenty of distractions coming over here, but everybody was really energized. To get the win and fly home and have a (bye) week off is just great."
Tampa Bay and quarterback Josh Johnson mustered little offense. The Bucs' only score came on a 33-yard pass from Johnson to Antonio Bryant near the end of the first half. Johnson finished 9 of 26 for 156 yards and three interceptions. He was taken out midway through the fourth quarter and replaced by rookie Josh Freeman.
The game was played before a sellout crowd of 84,254 at Wembley, England's national stadium.
It's the third straight year the NFL has come to London for a regular-season game. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week he envisions playing multiple regular-season games in Britain in coming years with the possibility of London having its own franchise.
Sunday's atmosphere was noisy and festive, and the dry weather left the Wembley field in good playing condition.
Brady said it even had the feel of a Super Bowl.
"All the flashbulbs were going off there before the kickoff," the two-time Super Bowl MVP said. "They went on for about 10 minutes, which you don't see in the States too often. I think it's a privilege to come over here and get to enjoy this type of experience. It will probably never happen again for us, so we'll retire 1-0 internationally."
Even understated Patriots coach Bill Belichick was happy with the international experience.
"It's a great way to end this week," he said. "It's been an enjoyable couple days here and glad we could end it on a positive note."
For the Patriots, it was their first victory on the road this season after losses at the New York Jets and Denver Broncos.
The loss capped a bad day for the Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers. The Glazers' also control English soccer powerhouse Manchester United, which lost to Liverpool 2-0 earlier in the day and missed a chance to regain first place in the Premier League from Chelsea. Brothers Bryan and Joel Glazer were at Wembley for the Bucs game.
The Bucs' 11-game losing streak is their longest since 1976-77 when they endured an NFL-record 0-26 skid.
Rookie coach Raheem Morris said his team just couldn't stop Brady.
"Tom, he's the guy that changed the game. He's the guy you worry about constantly," he said. "When you have a great quarterback like that, that's what he does and that's what he will do for you."
The tone of the game was set on the first series when Meriweather stepped in front of Sammie Stroughter on a short slant, picked off Johnson's throw and ran untouched into the end zone.
"I just happened to have a good break on the ball," Meriweather said. "I think the quarterback and receiver were on two different pages, and he just happened to throw it to me. Any big play sets the mood."
Brady hit Welker with a 14-yard TD pass after a 37-yard completion to Randy Moss. Welker took the quick throw behind the line of scrimmage, then weaved his way through the defenders into the end zone with 2:16 left in the first quarter.
The Patriots were driving for a third score early in the second quarter when Brady, who had completed his first seven passes, scrambled out of the pocket and lofted a pass into the end zone for Moss that was picked off by Tanard Jackson.
But Brady came back on his next series, ducked away from the rush and dumped the ball over the middle to Aiken, who slipped a tackle by Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud and went down the sideline for a 54-yard score to make it 21-0 with 11:18 left in the half.
Brady was picked off for the second time in four passes when he made a deep throw over the middle to Brandon Tate that was intercepted by a leaping Aqib Talib.
After an anemic Tampa Bay passing performance for the most of the first half, Bryant beat cornerback Darius Butler down the right sideline and hauled in Johnson's scoring pass.
Brady led the Patriots on a 73-yard, 10-play drive to open the second half, hitting tight end Watson with a 35-yard pass over linebacker Geno Hayes to make it 28-7.
This program aired on October 26, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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