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Sunday, November 18, 2012
Quick-hit thoughts from the third quarter

By FIeld Yates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Entering the fourth quarter, the Patriots lead the Colts 38-17. Passing along some notes and observations from the third quarter.

1. Edelman does it again. Julian Edelman's red-hot day continued in the third quarter, as he was on the receiving end of a two-yard throw from Tom Brady for a score on the Patriots' opening drive of the second half. In his most extensive action since returning from an early season hand injury, Edelman has been exceptional as a play-in-space receiver and also as a returner.

2. Wilfork bringing the pressure. It hasn't resulted in a sack yet, but nose tackle Vince Wilfork has been a factor in collapsing the pocket today and making things hard on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. It was Wilfork who helped to force Luck into a bad throw on an Aqib Talib interception, and he's been disruptive throughout the day. On a slightly-related note, Luck has really impressed with his strength and athleticism to elude pressure today.

3. Patriots finally punt. For the first time today, punter Zoltan Mesko was put to use, and he made it count. The Patriots were halted on their second offensive drive of the half, and Mesko boomed a field-position-altering punt of 61 yards.

4. Ninkovich with another big play. For the fifth time this season, Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich forced a fumble, as he strip-sacked Luck to give the Patriots the ball deep in Colts territory. It didn't take long for the Patriots offense to cash in, as Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on the ensuing play for a touchdown. On a related note, Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history to score 10 or more touchdowns in three straight seasons. He also tied the Patriots' franchise record for tight ends with his ninth game of 100+ yards receiving.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were called for penalties during the third quarter: linebacker Jerod Mayo (roughing the passer).