FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick-hit thoughts after the second quarter, with the Patriots leading 20-7:
1. This is a fun game to watch. Lot of good football, lot of talented players, plenty of big plays, and a bit of a chess-match when it comes to strategy. We’re getting our money’s worth. Just four drives for the Patriots’ offense, and four for the Chargers. In a game like this, you have to make your opportunities count and come up with the stop in the critical situation. So far, the Patriots have the edge in that category.
2. The personnel on the goal-line for the Patriots on their big fourth-and-1 stop at the goal-line – defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham, Vince Wilfork, Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Love, and Andre Carter; linebackers Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes, and defensive backs Patrick Chung, Josh Barrett and Devin McCourty. That was the play of the second quarter.
3. Vince Wilfork's 28-yard interception return? Wow. What a great play by an athletic big man to tip the ball and gather it in. Wilfork is listed at 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds and to see a play like that, it's remarkable. It set up a half-ending field goal.
4. The Chargers have had several players remain on the ground with injuries, leading some to ask if it might be a creative way for them to slow the game down. Hard to tell on that front. All the players do seem to be returning to the game rather quickly, although linebacker Shaun Phillips did head to the locker room at the end of the half.
5. The penalty on veteran defensive end Andre Carter on his big hit on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was a result of him lowering his helmet, with referee Walt Anderson explaining that Carter led with the hairline of the helmet on the play. If Carter picks his head up, no penalty.
6. With Kyle Arrington playing over Leigh Bodden as the third cornerback, we saw him struggle in the slot against the bigger Vincent Jackson on a 28-yard catch-and-run. Bodden has been banged up (back, right thumb injuries) and his lack of playing time is noticeable today (he came on for the injured Ras-I Dowling late in the second quarter. The Patriots could have used his size when going to a three-cornerback look earlier in the game.
7. Receiver Chad Ochocinco with another impact play, a 30-yard catch on the Patriots’ 99-yard drive after the big fourth-down stop. He’s coming along in the offense, although still isn’t part of the hurry-up package in which the Patriots use two receivers (Wes Welker, Deion Branch), two tight ends (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez) and running back Danny Woodhead.
8. Total snaps for Ochocinco in the first half – 10.
9. Great touchdown catch by tight end Rob Gronkowski. Not exactly a newsflash, but these tight ends are special.
10. Rookie running back Stevan Ridley received his first playing time of the season, with back to back plays in the second quarter.
11. Quarterback Tom Brady passed former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly to move into 17th place on the NFL’s all-time passing list.