Sunday, December 23, 2012
Quick-hit thoughts on second quarter
By Field Yates
At halftime, the Patriots are tied with the Jaguars, 13-13. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the second quarter:
1. Offense finds groove late, Woodhead scores. It took far longer than many expected, but the Patriots finally found the end zone on a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Danny Woodhead. The score tied the game and gave Brady a touchdown throw in 47 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL and tied for second-longest in NFL history with Johnny Unitas. Saints quarterback Drew Brees holds the record with a 54-game streak.
2. Pats show fake reverse on punt return. We don't often see this -- we hadn't yet this season, as a matter of fact -- so we'll point it out. The Patriots called for a fake reverse on a punt return late in the second quarter. Both Wes Welker and Deion Branch were aligned deep to field the punt, with Welker staggered behind Branch. Welker took the booming kick and broke right, where Branch was retreating back in a reverse alignment. Welker faked the reverse to Branch, eventually gaining 13 yards on the return. Neat wrinkle on special teams.
3. Third-down woes. The Patriots have been the best third-down offense in the NFL this year, but the offense failed to make critical conversions throughout much of the first half. In fact, the Patriots have converted just two third downs thus far, preventing the offense from extending drives. It's just one of many signs that the offense has been out of sync thus far.
4. Personnel shifts on defense. The Patriots always have been a multiple personnel team on both sides of the ball, but it's been something of a game of musical chairs on defense today. Players are rotating on all three levels, sometimes as frequently as by the play. The secondary has been shifted as cornerback Aqib Talib (hip) has come in and out of the game, while the linebackers and defensive line have implemented quite a bit of shuffling as well. We saw Tavon Wilson in for Patrick Chung at safety for much of the second quarter.
5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were called for penalties in the second quarter: tight end Aaron Hernandez (illegal motion).