Mallett impresses in battle for No. 2

TAMPA -- Quarterback Ryan Mallett was one of the bright spots for the Patriots in their 30-28 loss to the Buccaneers, coming on in the fourth quarter and leading two touchdown drives.

While Mallett's work came against the Buccaneers' backups, it was acknowledged by coach Bill Belichick afterward.

"I thought he did a good job with the opportunities he had," Belichick said, specifically pinpointing a 10-yard connection on a comeback route to receiver Donte' Stallworth on fourth-and-1. "He made some other good throws on the last two drives. The game was out of hand at that point, but he did what he could when he had the opportunity for it."

Mallett, who came on in the fourth quarter instead of No. 2 quarterback Brian Hoyer, finished 7-of-13 for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

Asked if Mallett's performance has helped him close the gap on Hoyer for the top backup spot, Belichick said the team hasn't made a decision at this point.