Taking a look at the television copy of Sunday's game against the Raiders and offering some first quarter observations:
1) The first drive of the game saw the Raiders use a variety of offensive formations, ranging from heavy sets with a fullback and tight end to shotgun, spread looks. In either case, the Patriots defense did little blitzing, while the Raiders often used 6- or 7-man protections, sacrificing receivers out of the backfield in favor of matching up their wide receivers against the Patriots' banged-up secondary. The Patriots' cornerbacks held their own in this case, while the run defense, especially LB Brandon Spikes, did a good job of containing RB Darren McFadden, forcing a Raiders field goal.
2) Coming into the game, Patriots players mentioned how the Raiders' deep defensive line would bring a heavy dose of stunts and twists to their pass rush. On Raiders DT Richard Seymour's roughing the passer penalty in the first quarter, he was able to get to QB Tom Brady on a double stunt from the Raiders' defensive line. Even with the whistle for delay of game, RG Brian Waters continued to play and couldn't contain DT Tommy Kelly (who slipped after beating Waters), while LT Matt Light was late to slide outside and pick up Seymour on his stunt. If he had been quick enough to block Seymour, though, there most likely would not have been the penalty against the Raiders.
3) Patriots RB Stevan Ridley's 15-yard direct snap run was a well-drawn up and well-executed play. It featured some outside-in blocking from WRs Julian Edelman and Wes Welker and TE Rob Gronkowski that helped to seal the inside of the field, while RT Nate Solder and Waters both pulled outside to lead Ridley downfield. Earlier on the drive, the Patriots had used a 'trap'-style run with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, featuring an inside block by Gronkowski, so the Patriots in this game demonstrated an ability to run the ball outside of traditional blocking schemes.
4) Impressive route-running from WR Chad Ochocinco on Welker's 15-yard touchdown pass. Split wide left, Ochocinco faked outside before making a sharp cut inside, just barely clearing Welker as he broke to the outside from the left slot. Ochocinco's route was so sharp that CB Chemdi Chekwa didn't even notice the ball thrown to Welker, following Ochocinco across the field despite being in position to stop Welker before the end zone. Chekwa also effectively set a pick on slot CB Joe Porter, giving Welker just enough time to beat Porter to the pylon.
5) In an apparent effort to generate pass rush, the Patriots shifted into an "amoeba," no-down linemen defense for a third-and-10 on the Raiders' second drive of the game. Four of these rushers ended up blitzing, in addition to LCB Devin McCourty. However, the Raiders were in a six-man protection, and McCourty didn't have the speed to pressure QB Jason Campbell off the edge. With coverage rolled to McCourty's side of the field to compensate for his blitz, holes in the Patriots' zone were opened up on the far side of the field. The blitz thus backfired, and Campbell stepped up and found WR Darrius Heyward-Bey in this area for a 16-yard gain.
6) After a quiet start to the game, the Patriots' pass rush began to cause some disruption late in the first quarter, on several straight plays. This pressure, in addition to some solid coverage from the secondary, caused Campbell to throw one incompletion before scrambling on two consecutive plays, recovering his own fumble once. It was more a case of the pocket being collapsed than any single rusher beating a block and getting to Campbell.