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Saturday, January 11, 2014
Patriots thoughts at halftime

By Mike Reiss

Sharing some halftime thoughts of the Patriots’ divisional-round playoff game against the Colts (New England leads 21-12):

Patriots botch the situational football they often preach: Coach Bill Belichick is big on “situational football” and the team failed in that area at the end of the second quarter. With a chance for a “double score” -- eating up clock (5:35 remaining when they got the ball) and getting points at the end of the second quarter and then getting the ball to open the third quarter -- they instead gave up points when long-snapper Danny Aiken rocketed a snap over the head of Ryan Allen. In that situation, Allen had to know to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The Patriots were fortunate that Allen lost the ball and it went through the end zone, as that safety easily could have been a touchdown.

Allen taken to locker room for observation: Allen might have been shaken up on the play, as he was crunched by multiple Colts players. He left for the locker room with about two minutes left in the second quarter (after taking a free kick following the safety). Kicker Stephen Gostkowski replaced Allen and punted at the end of the second quarter. Allen is also the holder on field goals and that role would likely go to Ryan Mallett.

Special teams struggling: The Patriots have two block-in-the-back penalties in the game -- on Ja’Gared Davis and Matthew Slater. Add in the bad snap by Aiken and it has been a poor half for what has been a strong point for them this year.

Blount as goal-line runner: When the Patriots acquired running back LeGarrette Blount from Tampa in April, the initial thought was that a 250-pound bruiser like Blount could be, at the least, a powerful goal-line presence for the team. But in speaking with those who watched him closely in Tampa, Blount had actually struggled in that role. The point is mentioned today because Blount has become a hammer for the Patriots in that role. He has three touchdowns in this game.

Talib on Hilton: One of the pregame questions was whether the Patriots would match cornerback Aqib Talib against T.Y. Hilton and that has mostly been the case. While the Patriots are mixing their coverages at times, Talib is finding Hilton immediately out of the huddle and lining up across from him on every snap.

Collins rising up: The play of rookie linebacker Jamie Collins has stood out. With an extended opportunity after Brandon Spikes was placed on injured reserve this week, Collins' speed, athleticism and power are evident.

Patriots get the ball: The Colts won the opening toss and took the ball to open the game, so the Patriots will get it to open the second half.