The New England Patriots held off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to claim a 19-14 victory in NFL action on Thursday.
Neither Tom Brady nor Jameis Winston were particularly sharp, but the Patriots did enough at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The Bucs (2-2) were unable to capitalise on a pair of Brady turnovers and placekicker Nick Folk missed three field goals.
After Winston hit Cameron Brate for an 18-yard touchdown with just over two minutes remaining, the Buccaneers tried an onside kick but it was recovered by Patriots safety Nate Ebner at the Bucs 42-yard line.
The Patriots (3-2) were able to use the favourable field position for a 48-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 1:10 left on the clock.
Winston, who finished 26 of 46 for 334 yards and a touchdown, got the Bucs into New England 19-yard line, but his pass to the end zone on the final play of the game was broken up by Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones.
Brady finished 30 of 40 for 303 yards with a touchdown and interception. His streak of 264 pass attempts without an interception was snapped in the first quarter when an errant throw was picked off by Buccaneers rookie safety Justin Evans. The Buccaneers went three-and-out on the ensuing possession.
New England got on the board first with a Gostkowski field goal of 27 yards.
Doug Martin, making his season debut following a four-game suspension dating back to last year, scored the game's first touchdown when he dove into the end zone with 8:26 remaining in the first half. Martin finished with 74 yards on 13 carries and his touchdown gave the Bucs a 7-3 lead.
The Patriots regained the lead on a touchdown pass from Brady to Chris Hogan five minutes later.
After New England added a pair of Gostkowski field goals to build a 16-7 lead, the Bucs were unable to convert a second Brady turnover into points. Adarius Glanton came around on a perfectly timed blitz for a strip-sack of Brady late in the third quarter. Defensive end Will Clarke recovered the fumble at the Tampa Bay 47, but seven plays later, Bucs kicker Nick Folk missed a 49-yard field goal attempt.
Folk missed attempts of 56, 49 and 31 yards and has missed five of his last seven attempts.
The Patriots were playing without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was inactive with a bruised thigh. Hogan and Danny Amendola picked up the slack. Each caught eight passes with Amendola going for 77 yards while Hogan had 74 receiving yards and the score.
IN OR OUT?
Hogan's leaping touchdown was reviewed and, though he landed with his feet at the one-yard line, he made initial contact with the ball in the end zone and the officials ruled it a score.
"It wasn't perfect. It never is," Hogan told NFL Network. "But the defence came through and we found a way to put points on the board."
Thursday games leave offences hampered and this game was a huge indicator of that. The Bucs were without starting linebackers Kwon Alexander (hamstring) and Lavonte David (ankle), and safeties Keith Tandy and T.J. Ward, who both have injured hips.
New England were unable to take advantage of the short-handed Bucs, even without Gronkowski. They still got the win as Brady tied Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for the most regular-season victories by a quarterback with his 186th career win.
Winston and the Buccaneers could also not exploit a New England defence that came in ranked last in nearly every statistical category. Tampa Bay ran for 91 yards and Winston's 56.5 completion percentage was his worst since a week-15 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last season.
|Rockets end Warriors´ 14-game road winning streak|
|Harrison key to containing ´monster´ Fournette|
|Cavaliers booed after abysmal first quarter|
|Titans hire Mike Vrabel as new head coach|
|NFL playoffs: Picks, predictions for AFC & NFC Championship Games|
|Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles - NFC Championship Game in Opta numbers|
|Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots - AFC Championship Game in Opta numbers|
|AFC Championship Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots|
|NFC Championship Preview: Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles|
|Beal leads Wizards past Pistons, Raptors edge Spurs|
|Kristaps Porzingis takes subtle jab at fans, media for All-Star starter snub|
|Tom Brady addresses media, reveals no details of hand injury|
|Celtics lose without Irving as Cavaliers end skid|
|Now an All-Star, Joel Embiid ´might have to pass´ on Rihanna|
|LeBron, Curry named captains for NBA All-Star game|
|Magic´s Afflalo handed two-game ban for fighting|
|Celtics guard Irving misses 76ers game with shoulder injury|
|LeBron James determined to work through ´very challenging´ Cavaliers season|
|Texans DE J.J. Watt showing positive signs with rehab|
|CC Sabathia likes the Yankees being a ´hated team´ again|
|Harden to return for the Rockets against the Timberwolves|
|Wizards get in scuffle in blowout loss to Hornets|
|Rockets´ Ariza, Green suspended|
|Brady limited in practice due to hand injury|
|Banvit beat Bayreuth to stay top as Gaziantep end losing streak|
|Kawhi Leonard´s rehab shut down as quad problem lingers|
|Steelers will not retain offensive coordinator Todd Haley|
|Brady named writers´ NFL MVP|
|IOC to consider joint Korean ice hockey team|
|Five fun facts as LeBron James chases 30K career points|
|Thomas turns down Celtics´ video tribute|
|Celtics great White dead at 71|
|Trust the Process – 76ers only behind Warriors and Cavs in merchandise sales|
|Monaco stay perfect, Murcia overcome Oldenburg|
|Jags RB Leonard Fournette uninjured in three-car accident|
|Durant continues dominance over Cavs as Warriors win|
|Westbrook ejected against Kings after arguing call|
|Pirates send McCutchen to Giants|
|Saints, Steelers coaching staffs to lead Pro Bowl teams|
|LeBron says we cannot let racism ´conquer us as people´|
|Super Bowl hopeful Belichick cautiously preparing for Jaguars|
|Cardinals veteran Yadier Molina: Three more years before retirement|
|The best finishes in NFL playoff history - Where does Keenum & Diggs´ Minneapolis miracle rank?|
|Titans part ways with Mularkey|
|Davis leads Pelicans past Knicks with 48 points|
|Lakers rookie Ball´s MRI clean, questionable for Monday|
|Vikings react to ´unbelievable´ win over Saints|
|Steelers QB Roethlisberger plans to return next season|
|WATCH: Diggs´ walk-off TD sends Vikings through to NFC championship|
|Vikings edge Saints in stunning fashion|
|Titans OT Conklin tears ACL during loss to Patriots|
|Vikings safety Sendejo concussed after blind-side hit|
|Jaguars upset Steelers in NFL playoffs|
|Mariota ´embarrassed´ by Titans loss to Patriots|
|Mask-wearing Eagles revel in underdog status|
|Warriors top Raptors despite blowing 27-point lead|
|Patriots reach seventh successive AFC championship game|
|Eagles stifle Falcons to reach NFC championship game|
|MLB champions Astros land Cole in trade with Pirates|
|Patriots RBs Burkhead, Gillislee out against Titans|
|Vikings activate Sam Bradford off injured reserve|
|Warriors welcome back Curry ahead of Raptors clash|
|Horford: Young Celtics must keep building|
|Patriots again aim to thrive amid familiar talk of demise|
|Cavaliers blow 22-point lead in third straight loss|
|Raptors president Ujiri proud of his ´s***hole´ country|
|Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration|
|Red Sox avoid arbitration with Bogaerts, eight others|
|Steelers expect Brown to play against Jaguars despite illness|
|Warriors again without Curry versus Bucks|