FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts after the third quarter of the Patriots’ regular-season finale against the Bills (New England leads 28-21):
1. The Patriots are back in control. The defense has settled down and the offense, while stalling in the red zone, is moving the ball with more ease.
2. Starting right cornerback Kyle Arrington was replaced by Sterling Moore to open the second half. The switch produced some solid results, with Moore coming up with an interception on the Bills’ second series.
3. A 19-yard run by tight end Aaron Hernandez to open the quarter highlighted the different ways the Patriots tap his diverse skills
4. Tom Brady and Wes Welker have a special connection, but they’re having trouble consistently getting on the same page in this game.
5. While the Brady-Welker connection hasn’t been at its usual high level, Welker has hit the 120-reception mark this season, marking the second time in his career that he’s reached that mark. Welker and Cris Carter are the only players in NFL history to have accomplished that feat in two seasons.
6. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s 47-yard field goal to wrap up the team’s opening drive of the quarter was a solid effort. The open end of the stadium is usually toughest from that distance, and that’s the direction Gostkowski was kicking.
7. The Patriots continue to ride with rookie Stevan Ridley at running back. Ridley was fortunate his fumble on the opening drive of the third quarter went out of bounds.
8. Ridley has been the lead back today, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis is still contributing. His 53-yard catch-and-run was one of the big plays of the third quarter.
9. Danny Woodhead’s red-zone running continues to impress. His effort on a successful 2-point conversion, with a hard-charging run up the middle, was impressive.