Rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett wasn't as sharp in his second preseason game, but it shouldn't be viewed as a step in the wrong direction.
Mallett was 9-for-14 for 71 yards, no touchdowns and one interception during the Patriots' 31-14 victory against the Buccaneers on Thursday night. He was in the game for four drives and led the Pats to three points, which was a clear difference from the four consecutive touchdown drives he led in the second half of his debut against the Jaguars.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was impressed with the way Mallett responded after the interception, though. When Mallett initially entered the game in the third quarter, he looked tentative and unsure of his downfield reads, relying on running back Stevan Ridley for three of his first five completions.
Once Mallett slowed it down, he was much better, and he has been a completely different quarterback when he steps toward the line of scrimmage to throw the ball with confidence. After the interception, Mallett completed 7 of 11 passes for 65 yards.
Belichick said Friday it's important for all players to collect themselves after a mistake, whether it was an interception, a missed tackle, a blown coverage or a drop, and he liked what he saw from Mallett in Tampa.
"We do talk about that, about how players respond when they have a bad play," Belichick said. "How does that affect them on the coming plays? Ryan got a few blitzes there in the last series he was in. They gave him a couple of different looks — the weak safety look off the weak side, a couple of strong-side blitzes. He saw those plays pretty well after the interception, so I thought he did handle himself pretty well considering there were a couple of tough looks there."