Student assistant Mike Rodak takes a look at the television copy of Sunday’s game against the Bills and offers some of his second half observations:
1. Patriots S Jarrad Page’s third quarter interception came when Page was lined up “in the box,” protecting against the Bills’ run game which had seen some success in the first half. On the play, CB Kyle Arrington dropped back while Page undercut WR Steve Johnson’s hook route. It was QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s third read of his progression and it was clear that Fitzpatrick did not see or anticipate Page being in position to make the interception.
2. Head coach Bill Belichick said on Tuesday that RG Ryan Wendell, making his first career start, had a generally positive game but could improve in some areas. One such play might have been a 1-yard BenJarvus Green-Ellis run in the third quarter. On second-and-2, Wendell was not quick enough to peel off his combo block and pick up ILB Akin Ayodele coming through the middle. The Patriots were forced to punt after Wes Welker dropped a pass over the middle on the ensuing third down.
3. Early in the fourth quarter, Wendell again struggled when DT Kyle Williams pushed him into the backfield on a third-and-1 play for the Patriots. Green-Ellis ended up getting around the backfield penetration from Williams and DT Torell Troup, gaining the first down. RB Fred Taylor entered the game for the next play, and it was clear the offensive line was beginning to get worn down an afternoon of run blocking. C Dan Koppen was slow to block Ayodele in the second level, and Taylor was stopped for a loss, helping to force a Patriots field goal.
4. Late in the third quarter, CB Kyle Arrington was replaced by CB Darius Butler, who previously had only been a part of the team’s dime package. Arrington was listed on the injury report prior to Sunday’s game, so the move could have been injury-related. However, with S Patrick Chung, typically playing the “star” slot cornerback role, allowing a 30-yard catch by WR Naaman Roosevelt in the fourth quarter, it is a situation that bears watching. Come the playoffs, expect the Patriots to settle on players for the RCB and slot CB positions.