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Sunday, October 6, 2013
Sharing some halftime thoughts

By Mike Reiss

CINCINNATI -- Sharing some halftime thoughts from the Patriots' road game against the Bengals (score is tied 3-3):

Turnovers a big part of the action. Linebacker Brandon Spikes, who has been one of the team's top performers, intercepted Andy Dalton on the final play of the first quarter on what was one of the big plays of the half. It was an ill-advised throw by Dalton, but it was also a nice play by Spikes -- playing in the sub defense over Dont'a Hightower (hamstring) -- to bring it in. But LeGarrette Blount's second-quarter fumble evened things on the turnover ledger. It was Blount's 10th career fumble in three-plus seasons.

Offensive line play shaky early. The Patriots couldn't get anything going and, early on, a big part of the reason was shaky play up front. The left side of the line, in particular tackle Nate Solder, was having a tough time. Credit to the Bengals' solid defensive line as well but overall it was a tough offensive half for the Patriots. Their best matchup seems to be the three-receiver package with Blount pounding it against the nickel defense. But they haven't been able to sustain drives.

Monitoring Amendola's snaps. The Patriots are managing receiver Danny Amendola's snaps. Amendola has played 18 of 35 snaps (including penalties).

Defense doing its part. The Patriots' defense is doing its part, with the Spikes' interception a key play. The Patriots are winning the critical situations and rookie defensive tackles Joe Vellano and Chris Jones (second-quarter sack) haven't proven to be liabilities. Some solid situational football in all three phases -- defense, offense and special teams -- set up Stephen Gostkowski's 42-yard field goal late in the second quarter.

Ankle injury for Washington. Veteran running back Leon Washington injured his ankle and the team announced his return as questionable. Washington returned the opening kickoff, but without him, the team turned to Devin McCourty.

Bengals get ball.  The Bengals get the ball to open the second half. The Patriots had won the opening toss and elected to receive, which is a change from the norm.