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Sunday, October 13, 2013
Quick-hit thoughts after first quarter

By Field Yates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After 15 minutes of play, the New England Patriots trail the New Orleans Saints 7-3. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the first quarter.

1. Pats start in no huddle, get field goal. The Patriots moved fast on their opening drive, employing a no-huddle for much of it and traveling down into the Saints' red zone. The drive was eventually halted on a pair of negative plays, as running back LeGarrette Blount was taken down for a loss and then Tom Brady was sacked -- call that one a coverage sack, as Brady had plenty of time to get rid of it. Stephen Gostkowski connected on a 35-yard field goal to open the scoring.

2. Talib checks Graham. Perhaps no player was discussed more from a Saints perspective than tight end Jimmy Graham, the NFL's leader in receiving yards entering Week 6. In an effort to try and slow him down, the Patriots have turned to cornerback Aqib Talib, who shadowed Graham throughout the first quarter. That's a testament to the coaching staff's trust in Talib and his ability in man coverage. He's been their defensive MVP.

3. Saints offense solves Pats' D. It took two drives, but the Saints found the end zone, as quarterback Drew Brees hooked up with running back Travaris Cadet on a short score to give New Orleans their first lead of the day. A critical play on the nine-play, 73-yard drive was a pass over the middle to former Patriot Ben Watson. Adding to the frustration of that play was that the Patriots had just 10 defenders on the field.

4. Ridley a spectator until third drive. Though he is active after missing last week due to a knee injury, running back Stevan Ridley did not see the field until the final drive of the quarter. It's been LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden splitting reps in the backfield, with Blount getting the lion's share of work. Ridley was limited in practice all week, but looked sharp on his first few carries.

5. Penalty box. No Patriots were flagged for penalties during the first quarter.