Patriots' third-quarter review: Brandon LaFell in the clutch

Picked-up pieces from third-quarter review of the New England Patriots' 42-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts:

1. One of the underrated plays in the game was receiver Brandon LaFell's 26-yard catch on third-and-6 with 7:49 remaining. Out of a bunch formation, he was well covered by cornerback Darius Butler, but it was a case where his size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) helped him shield off the 5-foot-10, 188-pound Butler, adjust to the throw in the air, and make a difficult catch down the left side of the field. One of the knocks on LaFell when he signed with the Patriots was inconsistent hands, but he displayed a reliable set of mitts in this game (also had a 22-yard grab later in the fourth).

2. Bill Belichick said earlier Monday that he was pleased with the team’s tackling. That showed up several times over the course of the game, and one sequence in particular was the two plays before Adam Vinatieri's 53-yard field goal. Linebacker Jamie Collins made a nice open-field tackle on tight end Coby Fleener (4-yard gain) and cornerback Darrelle Revis wrapped up receiver Reggie Wayne one yard shy of the first down on third-and-6. The Colts didn’t have much success from a yards-after-catch standpoint.

3. Some foreshadowing to tight end Rob Gronkowski's “I threw him out of the club” block on safety Sergio Brown came after Gronkowski's 16-yard catch on third-and-3 when Gronkowski nearly put Brown in a headlock after the play (5:38).

4. It was a challenging matchup for cornerback Brandon Browner, who often checked Fleener. Because Browner is so strong at the line of scrimmage, he can lock out receivers and tight ends early and knock them off their routes, but on Fleener's 45-yard catch at 3:23, the tight end won early and once he got a step, it put Browner in a compromising position. Fleener, as noted by NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth, later got away with a push-off on Browner (2:27).

5. Another call that perhaps could have been made: Offensive pass interference on Colts receiver Hakeem Nicks on fourth-and-1 as he basically ran into Collins, who was covering Ahmad Bradshaw (2-yard catch at :31).

6. Belichick felt Kyle Arrington's tackle on the kickoff return following Tim Wright's 2-yard touchdown catch was one of the bigger plays of the game. “We really had poor coverage on that play and he was able to come in from the outside and make a great open-field tackle there at the 25-yard line. We’ve seen those kind of plays not get made and then you have a 90-yard return,” he said of the play in which returner Daniel Herron took the ball out from 7 yards deep in the end zone and had some initial room to get a head of steam before Arrington closed it down.

7. Rushing production in the quarter when rookie offensive tackle Cameron Fleming was in the game as an eligible receiver/sixth offensive lineman: Nine carries for 49 yards and one touchdown. So through three quarters, the numbers out of that grouping were 20 carries, 134 yards, three touchdowns.