FOXBOROUGH – Quick-hit thoughts after the third quarter of the Patriots’ playoff game against the Jets (New England trails 14-11):
Patriots scrap back. In a game that has been a major struggle, the Patriots’ offense showed its mental toughness by hanging in the game despite little going right. The unit put together its first touchdown drive late in the quarter with an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown march. Big plays from tight end Rob Gronkowski, receiver Deion Branch, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and tight end Alge Crumpler sparked the drive. Running back Sammy Morris took a direct snap in for the two-point conversion.
Brady taking a pounding. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t been hit this much all season. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Patriots’ first touchdown drive came as the pass protection in front of him improved.
Conservative play-calling for Jets. The Jets’ offense had 12 plays in the quarter and their conservative approach -– specifically running on third down -- seemed to help the Patriots.
Injury concerns at outside linebacker for Patriots. Starting outside linebackers Eric Moore (hamstring) and Rob Ninkovich (left knee) have left the game and are unlikely to return. That has the Patriots playing with Jermaine Cunningham and Tully Banta-Cain at those spots.
Playing from behind. This is the fifth time this season the Patriots have trailed heading into the fourth quarter.