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Sunday, October 20, 2013
Quick-hit thoughts after first quarter

By Field Yates

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After 15 minutes of play, the New England Patriots lead the New York Jets 14-7. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the first quarter.

1. Gronk watch. The Patriots didn't wait long to utilize tight end Rob Gronkowski, as he was on the field for the first offensive series, catching his first pass on a second and 10 play and extending for the first down. He would later catch a 29-yard seam route that came up about a yard short of a touchdown, though his impact was felt immediately. He also had an edge-setting block on the team's first touchdown of the game, a run by Brandon Bolden. Safe to say Gronkowski came ready to play. He played 9 of the team's 12 offensive snaps.

2. Jets score easily on first drive. The Jets started the game with a 25-yard gain on a pass from quarterback Geno Smith to tight end Jeff Cumberland and didn't stop after that. They easily cruised down the field, converting three third downs, capped off with a touchdown throw to slot man Jeremy Kerley. All too easy for New York on their first drive. But...

3. Ryan makes first career pick. Rookie cornerback Logan Ryan made his first career interception, picking off Geno Smith and returning it 79 yards for a score on the Jets' next drive. It was a particularly sweet moment for Ryan because it came in his home state, as the Berlin, N.J., native also attended Rutgers. The Patriots have forced a turnover in 34 straight regular-season games, best in the NFL.

4. Defense turns to Collins. The Patriots have turned to linebacker Jamie Collins to replace Jerod Mayo in the starting lineup, as he's been the third linebacker alongside Brandon Spikes and Dont'a Hightower. The team has also opted for a heavier front, using three defensive tackles and Chandler Jones along the defensive line, with Rob Ninkovich used in stand-up alignments.

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