Picked-up pieces from 2nd half review

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
5:22
PM ET
Taking a look at the television copy of Monday's night's game against the Chiefs and offering some second half observations:

1) After spending much of the first half and the first play of the second half in their nickel package, the Chiefs switched back to their base 3-4 early in the second half. Immediately the Patriots tried a play action pass, with TE Rob Gronkowski beating FS Kendrick Lewis across the deep middle, but QB Tom Brady's pass was behind Gronkowski and fell incomplete. On the next play, third-and-8, Brady stared down pressure and hit TE Aaron Hernandez across the middle for a key first down, moving the Patriots across midfield. The Chiefs then kept their sub defense on the field, trying another blitz off the edge with CB Javier Arenas, only to have the Patriots make a timely switch back to the run and pick up another first down. When the Chiefs responded by going back to the 3-4, the Patriots stayed a step ahead, going to the play action with Gronkowski releasing into the flat for a 19-yard touchdown.

2) After some success with the spread offense late in the first half, the Chiefs returned to the strategy early in the second half. Faced with the Chiefs' no-huddle, the Patriots stayed mostly in their base defense, which on one play matched up OLB Rob Ninkovich against WR Steve Breaston in the slot, with CB Kyle Arrington also releasing WR Jonathan Baldwin to LB Jerod Mayo across the middle. Chiefs QB Tyler Palko took advantage of the Mayo-on-Baldwin matchup two plays in a row, before returning to the running game. The Chiefs kept the Patriots off-balance by successfully turning to the 'Wildcat' (for the third time in the game) for a direct snap first down run, but Arrington came up with another key interception when Palko tried going back to the Mayo-on-Baldwin matchup.

3) The Patriots stayed with the base defense strategy even as the Chiefs continued to drive on their next possession, with Breaston, after being jammed by Ninkovich at the line, finding space under a two-deep zone. As the Chiefs approached the red zone and the field tightened, Palko continued taking shots at the end zone. His first attempt was nearly intercepted by CB Antwaun Molden, who recovered after Palko lofted a pass to an open Dwayne Bowe in the end zone. His second attempt, with the Patriots switching back to their sub defense, was thrown into traffic in the end zone and intercepted by CB Phillip Adams.

4) On the Chiefs' final full drive of the game, the Patriots defense dialed up the pressure, sending Ninkovich on a blitz for a sack on the first play. Two plays later, on fourth-and-7, all three linebackers in the base defense (Ninkovich, Mayo, and Tracy White) blitzed, but throwing off his back foot, Palko was able to convert the first down to Bowe, with Molden in coverage. On the next fourth-and-12, the Patriots backed off and stayed coverage-heavy, but Ninkovich was still able to force Palko to scramble and, after an extended chase, essentially throw it away.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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