Quick-hit thoughts after 3rd quarter

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts after the third quarter, with the Patriots leading 20-7:

1. When quarterback Tom Brady absorbed a low hit on the team’s first drive, with Chargers nose tackle Antonio Garay reaching his left arm into Brady’s left knee, it was the type of play that makes you hold your breath. Brady was OK.

2. Receiver Deion Branch once again looks sharp. It’s a broken record now, but all that concern in the preseason about him not having a catch looks a bit silly now.

3. The Patriots have done a nice job taking away tight end Antonio Gates. Safety Sergio Brown had a big intercpetion on the Chargers’ first drive of the quarter on a pass intended for Gates.

4. A lot of injuries today – punter Zolan Mesko, safety Patrick Chung, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, safety James Ihedigbo and defensive lineman Kyle Love. Of the group, Haynesworth and Ihedigbo returned.

5. Terrific special teams tackle by Matthew Slater on punt coverage late in the quarter. One on one situation that he timed perfectly.

6. After an entertaining first half, this one slowed down a bit. Not a great quarter.