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Sunday, November 11, 2012
Quick-hit thoughts after second quarter

By Field Yates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- At halftime of their Week 10 matchup, the Patriots lead the Bills 24-17. Passing along some notes and observations from the second quarter:

1. Patriots open it up on offense. On the Patriots' first offensive drive in the second quarter, they opened up the attack with a bevy of empty sets and hurry-up plays. The results were positive, as they marched right down the Bills' defensive throat and capped off the drive with a 15-yard rush from Danny Woodhead. The drive lasted just 2:53, and Woodhead went virtually untouched as he scampered in for the touchdown. With their diverse personnel and sets, the Patriots were able to dictate the tempo on offense early.

2. Spiller impressing. We talked throughout the week about the importance and ability of running back C.J. Spiller. So far the second-year player has really impressed, making the Patriots miss tackles and showing explosiveness in the open field. To boot, backfield mate Fred Jackson also has shown up, and he's responsible for the Bills' first score of the half. He spun and juked his way to a 14-yard run to cut the Patriots' lead to 17-10 at the time.

3. Shiancoe debuts. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, activated on Saturday, made his debut in the second quarter. He logged just a handful of snaps and may need time to shake off the rust and get back into the swing of things. The Patriots have relied most prominently on single-tight-end sets, with Rob Gronkowski as the primary player at the position. That being said, it would appear that Shiancoe has leap-frogged Daniel Fells on the depth chart, or at least for today. Fells did not see the field until the final drive of the half.

4. Bills gift wrap a touchdown. Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore was flagged for a pass interference call in the end zone as he was defending Brandon Lloyd on a deep throw from Tom Brady. Given that the throw landed several yards out of bounds, there was no need for Gilmore to contact Lloyd, and the penalty set up a Gronkowski score just two plays later. For a team that has been very good at avoiding penalties thus far in 2012, Buffalo has played extremely out of character in the first half.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were called for penalties in the second quarter: Nose tackle Vince Wilfork (face mask), cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (unnecessary roughness).