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Sunday, December 1, 2013
Quick-hit thoughts after first quarter

By Field Yates

After 15 minutes of play, the Patriots trail the Texans 10-7. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the first quarter:

1. Vereen opens game at RB, then Bolden. With Stevan Ridley inactive, it was Shane Vereen in the huddle at running back for the first offensive series, playing one play before Brandon Bolden was subbed in to take the first carry of the game. Vereen is likely to continue to be the primary back when the Patriots turn to their up-tempo attack, with Bolden and LeGarrette Blount getting carries when they slow things down and run their two-back or two-tight end sets.

2. Texans take early lead. After starting with excellent field position, the Texans cashed in for the first points of the day with running back Ben Tate taking the ball 8 yards for a score. The drive was catalyzed by a pair of receptions for Andre Johnson that went for a total of 45 yards.

3. Brady picked by Joseph. The Patriots' second offensive drive of the day was halted when Tom Brady underthrew Rob Gronkowski and his pass was picked off by Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph. The turnover would lead to three points for the Texans, who got a field goal from kicker Randy Bullock.

4. Answers with TD to Gronk. With all kinds of time to throw, Brady rifled a spiral to Gronkowski on a third-and-8 play to put the Patriots on the board. The offensive line did a wonderful job in protection and Gronkowski made a terrific grab to pick the ball up from nearly on the turf. He now has a touchdown in four straight games.

5. Penalty box. No Patriots were flagged in the first quarter.