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Sunday, December 16, 2012
Quick-hit thoughts from second quarter

By Field Yates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- At halftime of their Week 15 matchup, the Patriots trail the 49ers 17-3. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the second quarter.

1. Pats lead off with fourth-down stop. The very first play of the quarter was a big one for the Patriots, as 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was unable to convert on a 4th & inches situation on a sneak. It didn't appear that Kaepernick was able to handle the snap cleanly, forcing him to almost kneel down upon the snap and not advance the football. The 49ers were unable to take advantage of opportunities in the Patriots territory early on in the game.

2. Gostkowski puts Pats on board. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski connected for a 33-yard field goal on the Patriots' opening drive of the second quarter, narrowing the 49ers lead to 7-3 at the time. It took the Patriots six drives to put points on the board tonight. Previously, the highest number of drives it had taken them to score in a game this season was just three.

3. Niners make quick work, score again. It took just three plays and lasted less than two minutes, as the 49ers cruised down the field for their second touchdown drive of the night. Of note on the drive was a pass interference penalty on Aqib Talib that set the 49ers up in Patriots territory, and what looked like a coverage bust on the touchdown. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was seemingly left alone to cover two separate 49ers receivers, and Kaepernick was able to find tight end Delanie Walker for an easy score.

4. Offense can't find rhythm. The enduring theme of the first half has been the Patriots' inability to find a rhythm on offense. That's a credit to the 49ers' incredibly tough defense, and perhaps a reflection on how the elements have played a factor thus far. Of note, wide receiver Wes Welker has been shut out from the passing game. He has recorded a catch in every single game that he has played with the Patriots, but has yet to catch a pass tonight. Additionally, quarterback Tom Brady has been hit four times, and the offense has not converted a third down. The Patriots must make the necessary adjustments to get on track in the second half.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties in the second quarter: cornerback Aqib Talib (pass interference).