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Sunday, December 15, 2013
Sharing Patriots halftime thoughts

By Mike Reiss

MIAMI -- Sharing halftime thoughts on the New England Patriots' game against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium (New England leads 10-7):

Quick half: This has been a game with a quick pace. Not a lot of penalties, which isn't surprising as these two teams are among the least penalized in the NFL. Good action.

Hoomanwanui with the highlight: Just as it appeared the Patriots' red-zone struggles were going to resurface, tight end Michael Hoomanwanui came up with one of the most impressive catches you'll see -- reaching up with his right hand to snare a 13-yard laser in the end zone from quarterback Tom Brady. That gave the Patriots a 10-0 lead. Hoomanawanui is active for the first time since injuring his knee on Nov. 18 against the Panthers, and that was a difference-making play.

Late Dolphins touchdown ends half on downer: The Patriots had played a solid first half up until the Dolphins' final drive, as Miami won the "situational" football battle. An injury thrust Marquice Cole into the game at cornerback (Kyle Arrington required medical attention) and the Dolphins went after him on Mike Wallace's long catch-and-run touchdown. It didn't help that safety Steve Gregory over-ran the play. That was a downer in an otherwise fairly solid defensive half for the Patriots.

Third-down defense getting it done: In part because they had sacks on early downs, the Patriots' third-down defense has been as good as we've seen in recent weeks, with Miami in long-yardage situations. The Patriots are mostly playing their nickel defense (five defensive backs), and cornerback Aqib Talib has been moving all over as a chess piece of sorts. As noted above, until the Dolphins' final drive, the D had done its part.

Special teams a big part of second quarter: The second quarter was a good "advertisement" on the importance of special teams play. Both punters had magnificent efforts -- Miami's Brandon Fields to pin the Patriots deep, and New England's Ryan Allen to shift field position with a 57-yard effort. Also, the botched Miami field goal appeared to be a fake (one wing flared out at the snap) that backfired as Fields, the holder, had the snap clang off his facemask.

Patriots get the ball to open second half: After calling heads and winning the opening toss, the Patriots will get the ball for the start of the second half.