Power running: This has been attitude football for the Patriots as they ran it 10 straight times on their touchdown drive. The Patriots are a bigger team than the Falcons and it seems as if they made a conscious decision to play power football against an undersized defense. The Patriots have been running well out of almost every package, including their three-receiver grouping, which the Falcons matched with a nickel.
Limited-possession game: This has been a limited-possession type of game, sort of like how some of the old Tom Brady/Peyton Manning duels went down. This means margin for error is thin and every possession counts. The Patriots and Falcons each had four series in the first half, with the Patriots' final possession coming after the Falcons scored a touchdown with 38 seconds left in the second quarter (they kneeled on the ball).
Defense hanging tough: After the Falcons’ offense surged on its opening drive, only to be held to a field goal, this conclusion can be drawn: The Patriots’ defense, mixing its looks, has mostly risen to the challenge against the best quarterback (Matt Ryan) the unit has faced this season. Linebacker coverage remains an issue and safety Steve Gregory's breakdown contributed to Tony Gonzalez's 21-yard touchdown with 38 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but overall, this is a half the defense will probably mostly be happy with. Ryan has to be kicking himself for missing a fourth-down throw to open receiver Roddy White, so while the Patriots have stiffened in critical situations, some of the Falcons’ red-zone struggles (a big issue for them entering the game) were of their own doing.
Still no Wilfork: Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who was carted off in the first quarter, has not returned to action. The Patriots are rotating the remaining three players on the depth chart -- veteran Tommy Kelly and rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones.
Patriots presence felt in crowd: It’s definitely a majority of Falcons fans in the Georgia Dome tonight, but there’s a noticeable Patriots presence as well. That came to the forefront when the Falcons were stopped on fourth down. Plenty of cheers heard.
Setting up the second half: The Patriots get the ball to open the second half.