TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- With the 2007 MVP, New England quarterback Tom Brady, sitting out for a 2nd straight week, the defending AFC champs sputtered even against Tampa Bay's 2nd and 3rd-string quarterbacks in a 27-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday night in Tampa.
Coach Bill Belichick played down the significance of Brady not playing. Brady remained at home, reportedly to rest a sore foot
Bucs starting quarterback Jeff Garcia also has yet to play this preseason after missing most of training camp with a sprained right calf.
The game thus became a showcase showdown for No. 2 among for Brian Griese, Luke McCown, and Chris Simms to be Garcia's backup.
Griese and McCown produced a 17-3 halftime lead, with the Patriots scoring on Stephen Gostkowski 's 53-yard field goal on the final play of the 2nd quarter.
Blitzing safety Sabby Piscitelli scooped up an errant shotgun snap to Patriots' quarterback Matt Cassel and ran 24 yards for a touchdown that made 24-3 early in the 3rd.
Griese, 3rd on the depth chart, got the start and directed an impressive 17-play, 80-yard TD drive on the first possession of the night. Earnest Graham finished the 9+minute march with a 1-yard run.
McCown, who entered camp No. 2 after winning one of three starts last season, led a drive that produced a 34-yard field goal, and threw a 1-yard TD pass to Byron Storer to complete an 8-play, 86-yard drive in the 2nd quarter.
The big play in the drive leading to the field goal was a 33-yard completion to Antonio Bryant. The 6th-year pro, a former 1,000-yard receiver, hasn't played in the NFL since 2006. Bryant had two receptions for 37 yards and also gained 16 yards on a reverse during the game's opening drive.
Randy Moss made his preseason debut for New England and caught two passes for 25 yards. Both receptions came on the five-play drive Cassel used to get the Patriots on the scoreboard at the end of the 1st half.
Cassel was 6-of-10 for 57 yards before being replaced by Kevin O'Connell, who led a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that Heath Evans finished with a 1-yard run.