Sunday, November 18, 2012
Sharing some halftime thoughts
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Sharing some thoughts at halftime, with the Patriots leading the Colts 24-17:
Two exceptional runbacks highlighted the first half -– one punt return for a touchdown (Julian Edelman 68 yards) and one interception for a touchdown (Aqib Talib 59 yards).
Let’s start with Talib, as he is the newcomer on the block. He started at left cornerback, which is an indication of how he’s viewed by the coaching staff. It didn't take long for him to become the team’s No. 1 corner.
The interception was a bad overthrow by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, whose mechanics appeared to be affected by the rush of defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.
Talib’s runback, in which he juked out multiple defenders and first went to the right side of the field, before cutting all the way to the left, was sensational. Talib is a top-notch athlete and the runback was evidence of that.
Talib had some other struggles in coverage in the first half, but the pick-6 overshadowed them. Safety Devin McCourty bailed him out on one play, showing solid range to break up a long pass midway through the second quarter. McCourty looks like a long-term fit at safety with plays like that.
Meanwhile, Edelman’s 68-yard punt return for a touchdown was a dynamic play. While the Patriots blocked it well, it was mostly Edelman who made it happen from this view, cutting to the near sideline and staying in bounds up the sideline. Edelman is making things happen today on special teams and offense as a No. 2/3 receiver (he's playing some in 2-WR packages).
It was an extremely slow start for the defense, which was carved up early before settling down a bit. Once again, they are thriving off turnovers, entering the day with the NFL’s best turnover differential (plus-16).
Cornerback Kyle Arrington, who gave up the 40-yard pass interference penalty on the first drive to set up the Colts’ first touchdown, was replaced by Alfonzo Dennard in the base defense. Arrington initially stayed in the game as the slot corner, but was later replaced by Marquice Cole. This will be something to watch in the weeks to come, as Talib will play the left side, but the right side remains a competition.
On offense, tight end Rob Gronkowski just keeps on rolling. The Colts don’t have an answer. Because of the two runbacks for touchdowns, the Patriots had just three offensive drives in the half and there hasn’t been a consistent theme to the attack.
The Patriots get the ball to open the second half.