Quick-hit thoughts on first quarter

December, 23, 2012
12/23/12
1:52
PM ET
After 15 minutes of play, the Patriots trail the Jaguars 10-3. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the first quarter.

1. McCourty at cornerback to start. Devin McCourty opened the game at cornerback alongside Kyle Arrington in place of Alfonzo Dennard and Aqib Talib. Dennard is inactive due to knee/hamstring issues, while Talib has been limited of late due to a hip ailment. The move is a shift for McCourty, who has been at safety for much of the season, and resulted in the Patriots turning back to the safety duo that they used to open the season: Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory. Chung was on the field for 19 snaps in Week 15 and looks to be getting close to 100 percent healthy after an early-season shoulder issue.

2. Jags make it look easy to start. The Jaguars won the toss and opted to receive the opening kickoff, taking the football down the field for an all-too-easy touchdown. The Jaguars beat the Patriots with both the run and the pass, and converted on a critical third down. Top draft choice Justin Blackmon eventually capped the drive off with a receiving score. That drive served as an easy reminder that on any given Sunday a team with less talent can make things difficult for a team with a far better record.

3. Ridley starts on offense. Despite fumbles in consecutive weeks, it was running back Stevan Ridley in the backfield to open the game with the Patriots offense. He'll need to straighten out his ball security issues soon, as he's shown himself to be perhaps the Patriots best running back since Corey Dillon and is a massive part of what they have been able to accomplish thus far in 2012.

4. Brady picked off twice. On his first official throw of the game (an opening-play throw did not count because of a penalty), Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was picked off on an under throw to Ridley. Ridley had broken free in coverage down the sideline, but Brady was not able to lead him and the ball was tipped and eventually intercepted. It was Brady's third interception in his past two games, and just his seventh all season. The turnover resulted in three points for Jacksonville, as kicker Josh Scobee connected on a 41-yard field goal on the ensuing drive. On the Patriots' final offensive play of the quarter, Brady was picked off again, this time by cornerback Derek Cox.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were called for penalties in the first quarter: nose tackle Vince Wilfork (offsides; penalty declined).
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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