Former Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib's debut for Patriots looked familiar
While the Bucs were celebrating their thrilling victory Sunday in Carolina, word arrived in the locker room that former teammate Aqib Talib had just scored on a 59-yard interception return in his first game with his new team, the Patriots.
But how did Talib play overall? Was he the savior the Patriots hoped he’d be, evidenced by the fourth-round pick they gave up for him?
Well, sort of.
As someone who has watched Talib’s Bucs career in its entirety, I can tell you that Patriots fans found out what fans of the Bucs have known for a long time: With Talib, it’s often an all-or-nothing scenario.
Just like he scored on that beautiful interception return, Talib also was on the wrong end of two touchdown passes from the Colts’ Andrew Luck. If that feels familiar, it’s because it’s something we’ve seen here in Tampa Bay for years. Talib makes a play, Talib gives up a play.
“The new guy started his tenure with a bit of a bang. He intercepted an Andrew Luck pass and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Everything he does from there there is gold, right? Wrong. He gave up two touchdowns, including a 43-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton in the fourth quarter in which he was flagged for pass interference. The penalty was declined. In fact, both of Luck's touchdown passes to Hilton were with Talib in coverage, showing that the new cornerback's debut was every bit as ugly as it was beautiful.”
This is not to suggest he’s a bum. Talib is very talented and is capable of shutting down an opponent’s top receiver on any given day. And the fact that he was effective in his first game with a new team in midseason speaks volumes about his ability.
But Talib’s propensity for giving up big plays is arguably what’s kept him out of the small group of truly elite NFL cornerbacks (obviously, his track record of improper off-field conduct is a whole different matter).
Lucky for Talib, the Patriots’ secondary has been so dreadful that even an up-and-down day will be celebrated by the team’s followers.
I’m very curious to see how Talib plays down the stretch and even more interested in seeing what becomes of him as a free agent in the offseason.