At halftime of their Week 8 matchup in London, the Patriots lead the Rams 28-7. Passing along notes and observations from the second quarter.
1. Vereen plunges in for a score. For the second consecutive week, running back Shane Vereen has made an offensive impact, plunging in for his second touchdown of the season on a fourth-and-goal run to put the Patriots up 14-7. The fact that it was Vereen who was called upon for a "gotta-have-it" situation is a suggestion that the coaching staff is confident in the second-year player, who has been plagued by injuries to start his career.
2. Huge half for Gronk. It was about this time last season that Rob Gronkowski hit his unbelievable stride of production, and a week after scoring two touchdowns against the Jets, the burly tight end is off to a red-hot start against the Rams. He already has five catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, and the Rams' defense appears to have no answer for the third-year player. Gronkowski celebrated his touchdown in appropriate style, appearing to pay homage to the British Royal Guard with a quick march before his traditional "Gronk spike."
3. Rams QB Bradford knocked down, but fine. Patriots linebacker Dont'a Higthower slammed Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to the ground on a clean hit, and it shook up Bradford temporarily. Bradford appeared to be experiencing pain in his left shoulder, and received medical attention from the team's staff. But the third-year quarterback showed a chunk of grit, not missing a play, as the team called a timeout to allow him to stay on the field. The Rams' backup quarterback is former Jet Kellen Clemens.
4. Offense in a groove. Four drives, four scores for the Patriots, who capped off the first half with a one-yard touchdown by running back Stevan Ridley. The final drive was aided by a pair of defensive pass interference calls on Rams cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who is having fits trying to keep up with Patriots receiver Deion Branch. The offensive rhythm the Patriots are in right now is reminiscent of what we saw in the second half of a Week 4 rout against the Bills.
5. Penalty box. No Patriots were called for a penalty in the second quarter.