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WR Chris Hogan, Patriots' offense making most of short-handed situation

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When wide receiver Chris Hogan took a handoff and ran for 4 yards in the first quarter, he appeared to injure his hand at the end of the play and took himself out of the game.

While that was happening, New England Patriots offensive coaches called for the next snap to be played with a three-receiver package, but there was one big problem: The Patriots dressed only three pure receivers for the game and Hogan was being looked at by the medical staff on the sideline. While special teams captain Matthew Slater scurried to take the offensive huddle, it was determined that a timeout would be the better course of action so everyone could regroup.

That early sequence highlighted how the Patriots’ offensive depth is being taxed, yet by game's end, they still put up big numbers in terms of net yards (496) and points (30) against the NFL’s No. 1-rated defense.

Capping things off with Hogan’s 79-yard touchdown, and then with running back LeGarrette Blount effectively running out the clock, was something that brought a smile to Tom Brady's face.

Hogan's, too.

“Me and Tom are on the same page. It was something where I had the option of going to the corner or the middle of the field and we saw the same thing,” said Hogan, whose hand injury didn't cost him one play. “Tom made a great throw and I think it was the time and the point in the game where we needed someone to step up and make a big play.”

Using that as the springboard, here is the weekly snap-count analysis:

Total offensive snaps: 68

Total defensive snaps: 70

WIDE RECEIVER

Chris Hogan – 57

Malcolm Mitchell – 54

Julian Edelman – 47

Matthew Slater – 4

Of their 68 snaps, they were in a three-receiver package for 42 of them. Of Mitchell, the fourth-round pick from Georgia, Brady said, “He’s done a great job for us. It says a lot for a rookie to be playing his best in December. It speaks to what he’s all about, his mindset, his character, his determination. He’s worked his butt off since he got here and he’s put himself in a great position. With Danny [Amendola] getting hurt he’s gotten more opportunity, and we’re going to need it.” Newly signed Griff Whalen was inactive.

TIGHT END

Martellus Bennett – 53

Cameron Fleming – 18

Matt Lengel – 8

Bennett, who is playing through ankle and shoulder injuries, looked like he had some of his old explosion back. That’s important because outside of him, Fleming and Lengel do most of their work in the blocking game, which limits the diversity of the passing attack.

RUNNING BACK

James White – 29

LeGarrette Blount – 28

Dion Lewis – 17

White’s strong play took away time from Lewis, who played only two snaps in the second half. Sticking with the running game, and Blount, was a notable part of the game plan against the No. 1-rated run D. That set up play-action passing opportunities, as well.

FULLBACK

James Develin – 25

He has become a bigger part of the offensive approach without tight end Rob Gronkowski, as the offense is calling on more two-back sets.

OFFENSIVE LINE

LT Nate Solder – 68

LG Joe Thuney – 68

C David Andrews – 68

RG Shaq Mason – 68

RT Marcus Cannon – 68

On ESPN’s broadcast, it was relayed that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Mason could be the finest guard to ultimately come through the team’s program if he keeps developing. Mason had been coming off his best game of the season against the Rams and Aaron Donald. Also notable is that this group has maintained continuity since Oct. 16.

QUARTERBACK

Tom Brady – 68

He was as fiery and emotional in the game as at any point of the season, saying, “It was a big game for us. We played at home in December on Monday night against a great defense. It was important for us to come out and play well.”

SAFETY

Devin McCourty – 70

Patrick Chung – 70

Duron Harmon – 35

The Patriots split their sub packages between a “Big Nickel” and three-corner grouping, depending on the Ravens’ offensive personnel. Overall, there was a lot of zone coverage and Chung tied for the team lead with nine tackles while McCourty was all over the field with four tackles and one interception. A good day for the safeties.

CORNERBACK

Logan Ryan -- 70

Malcolm Butler – 66

Cyrus Jones – 48

Jonathan Jones – 10

Justin Coleman – 0

Ryan started opposite Butler in place of the injured Eric Rowe, while Cyrus Jones played on the outside in sub packages, pushing Ryan to the slot. So much of the defense is built on communication and this group had some rocky moments at times but ultimately it was impressive to watch them pull through with the two Joneses playing more than the norm. Meanwhile, Butler was seen limping in the locker room after the game and his injury status bears watching.

LINEBACKER

Dont’a Hightower – 70

Kyle Van Noy -- 37

Shea McClellin – 33

Elandon Roberts – 1

It was mostly a two-linebacker game, with McClellin starting and playing early downs, before giving way to Van Noy. Integrating those two players has been a bit part of the progress made by the D in recent weeks. Roberts, the sixth-round pick from Houston, only plays in the base defense as his lone snap came on the safety at the goal line.

DEFENSIVE END

Chris Long – 46

Trey Flowers – 44

Jabaal Sheard – 36

Rob Ninkovich – 35

Ninkovich’s sack at the 7-minute mark of the fourth quarter, which forced the Ravens to kick a field goal, was one of the plays of the game. Flowers appeared to be robbed of a first-quarter strip sack by a quick whistle from referee Ed Hochuli. The Patriots seemed to do some different things with their pass rush and the ends responded.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Malcom Brown – 38

Alan Branch – 36

Vincent Valentine – 25

Limiting the running game is the foundation of the game plan and the big bodies in the middle mostly did that as the Ravens finished with 42 yards on 14 carries (3.0 average). Brown’s safety came after a late shift by the defensive line, which was a reflection of tactical excellence.