<
>

Quick-hit thoughts after first quarter

MIAMI -- After 15 minutes of play, the New England Patriots lead the Mimami Dolphins 3-0. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the first quarter.

1. Patriots offense starts with points: The Patriots' offense wanted to start faster today than it has in recent weeks, and while the Patriots were unable to manufacture a touchdown on the opening drive, they did come through with a field goal. The 16-play drive gave the Patriots their first lead in the first half since Week 9 against the Steelers.

2. Blount opens game in backfield: For the second consecutive week, it was running back LeGarrette Blount getting the lead carries for the Patriots. The 27-year old has run well of late, and looked sharp early. He has used his big frame to effectively power through defenders. Running back Stevan Ridley entered on the second drive, earning his first carry on his second snap and dashing for 11 yards and a first down.

3. Defensive notes: The Patriots' defense seems to be changing between its base and sub personnel based upon the presence of Dolphins tight end Charles Clay. When he's in the game, the Patriots are using their sub defense and effectively treating him as if he were a third wide receiver. When he's off the field, the team has relied upon its base defense. It hasn't been on every play, but we've seen Aqib Talib used to defend Clay on occasion.

4. Allen pins Fins deep: Ryan Allen planted a beautiful punt on the Dolphins' 6-yard line to end the quarter. He's developed nicely as a directional and short-field punter. The Dolphins will begin the second quarter deep in their own territory.

5. Penalty box: No Patriots were flagged for penalties during the first quarter.