OAKLAND – Quick-hit thoughts from the first quarter of the Patriots’ game against the Raiders (Patriots lead 7-3):
1. Raider penalties have been a big part of the first 15 minutes. Tackle Jared Veldheer’s illegal block in the back penalty stopped momentum on the Raiders’ first drive (they settled for a field goal), and Richard Seymour gave the Patriots a gift with a roughing penalty on Tom Brady on third down of the Patriots’ first drive, before a facemask penalty later on the drive gave the Patriots 15 more yards. The Raiders entered the game leading the NFL with 30 accepted penalties.
2. More poor tackling from the Patriots’ defense (e.g. Jerod Mayo on Darren McFadden), and plenty of holes to exploit in the passing game.
3. The Patriots are mixing their defensive looks between a 4-3 and 3-4, having Shaun Ellis, Andre Carter and Rob Ninkovich execute some different techniques. This is a game being played in the base defense. The Patriots had been in sub 77 percent of the snaps up to this game.
4. Kicker Stephen Gostowski didn’t get the game off on the right foot by dribbling the opening kickoff out of bounds.
5. Raiders defensive lineman Seymour drew a holding penalty on the Patriots’ first offensive play, looping inside and catching center Dan Connolly.
6. The Patriots are using tackle Thomas Welch as a second tight end. They have only Rob Gronkowski on the roster as a pure tight end. Welch is just blocking in that role.
7. Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is showing some different looks, such as a direct snap to running back Stevan Ridley, and one play in which Danny Woodhead initially lined up as a fullback before motioning to the slot.
8. This is a Brandon Spikes type of game – downhill and physical. We’re seeing a lot of him today and he’s showing up.
9. With defensive lineman Kyle Love leaving the game with injury, it has forced the Patriots to turn to veteran Gerard Warren, who was re-signed on Wednesday.
10. When the Patriots go to their nickel defense, cornerback Antwaun Molden and linebacker Gary Guyton are coming on to the field, with Shaun Ellis and Brandon Spikes coming off.