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Sunday, December 29, 2013
Quick-hit thoughts after third quarter

By Field Yates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With just one quarter left in the regular season, the New England Patriots lead the Buffalo Bills 16-10. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the third quarter:

1. Rain playing a big part. The rain is leaving its mark on the game, as both passing offenses largely have been halted by the elements. The Patriots have turned to a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount and the other running backs.

2. But Bills do find end zone. The Bills managed the only scoring drive of the quarter, as Thad Lewis connected with T.J. Graham on a late touchdown to cut the Patriots' lead to six points. The drive was extended on a curious call against Chandler Jones on third down.

3. Brady breaks out quick kick. After consecutive holding calls and then a negative run, the Patriots found themselves facing a third and 32. With few plays in the playbook for such a situation, plus a driving rain that is hampering both offenses, the Patriots punted on third down ... with Tom Brady. The quarterback pooched a 32-yarder off of a shotgun snap, the third punt of his career.

4. Blount has huge return. The big day for LeGarrette Blount continued, as he recorded the longest kickoff return for the Patriots this season with an 83-yarder. That landed the Patriots at the Bills' 20-yard line. Blount has come on incredibly strong of late, really bringing value to the Patriots in multiple phases.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties during the third quarter: offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (holding), center Ryan Wendell (holding), defensive end Chandler Jones (illegal use of hands to the face).