Taking a look at the television copy of Sunday's game against the Raiders and offering some third quarter observations:
1) The Patriots returned to their more traditional, drive-style blocking on the first play of the third quarter, without much success. RT Nate Solder was pushed into the backfield by DE Lamarr Houston at the snap on the playside, while LT Matt Light couldn't corral WLB Quentin Groves on the backside. RB Stevan Ridley was stopped for no gain, with an assist from SS Tyvon Branch, who was the eighth man in the box on the play.
2) On Ridley's 33-yard touchdown run later on the drive, the award for key block goes to RG Brian Waters. The veteran was in a combo block with C Dan Connolly on DT John Henderson at the snap, but his true assignment was MLB Rolando McClain, about five yards off the line. In blocking Henderson, Waters was turned back towards the line of scrimmage, but made a wise decision to spin around to the outside part of the field, instead of simply turning to the inside part of the field and having to shuffle downfield, putting him in a better position to get outside leverage on McClain. His downfield block, as well as WR Deion Branch's on CB Stanford Routt, was vital in springing Ridley.
3) Through the first quarter of the season, the most consistent Patriots pass rusher has been DE Andre Carter, who generated pressure on Raiders QB Jason Campbell on a first-and-10 on the Raiders' first drive of the third quarter. On the play, Carter beat TE Kevin Boss to the outside, dodged a chip attempt from FB Richard Gordon, and scraped Campbell from behind as DE Shaun Ellis hit Campbell from the front. Campbell still got the pass off but it fell incomplete, intended for RB Darren McFadden in the right flat.
4) On a 19-yard BenJarvus Green-Ellis run late in the third quarter, Waters came up with another key block. The outside trap-style play involved TE Rob Gronkowsi motioning towards the backside and picking up Houston on the backside edge. However, it was Waters' outside leverage on Henderson, especially after Connolly peeled off inside to pickup McClain up the middle, that sealed the backside cut-back lane for Green-Ellis.