Patriots-Saints Q2: Patriots secondary steps up


Patriots-Saints Q2: Patriots secondary steps up

FOXBORO -- The Patriots first team defense continued to work up a good lather in the second quarter, putting forth a good effort against Saints quarterbacks not named Drew Brees. The highlight was an interception by Steve Gregory, but before we get into that, here are our observations from the quarter in chronological order:

Jermaine Cunningham subbed in for Rob Ninkovich at left end on the first-team defense to start the quarter. Later in the quarter he got a few reps on the defensive line next to Chandler Jones, Marcus Harrison and Trevor Scott.

Brandon Deaderick also got significant work in the second quarter. He played on the nose in between Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork with Jones and Cunningham on the ends.

Chase Daniel completed long pass plays to Courtney Roby and Michael Higgins for 12 and 15 yards, respectively, driving the Saints deep into Patriots territory. Then it fell apart for Daniel. His pass was tipped into the air by Jerod Mayo and then juggled by Steve Gregory five times before he secured it for the interception. Daniel came off the field, holding his helmet, knowing he'd blown an opportunity to give his team some points. Nice athletic play by both Mayo and Gregory.

Brian Hoyer completed three of his four passes on the following drive, but he didn't exactly look comfortable. He threw one bad ball to Alex Silvestro that fell incomplete. None of the completions went for more than five yards, and he had a chance to get the ball to Julian Edelman in space in the flat, but floated a pass instead of getting it there with zip, which allowed a defender to close in and make a quick tackle.

Zoltan Mesko got absolutely run over by Martez Wilson on a punt attempt. Bad job by Wilson there, who showed very little body control after plowing through blocker Shane Vereen. Mesko shook off the hit like a champ. He later coffin-cornered a punt that went out of bounds around the eight yard line.

Tough start to the night for Ryan Mallett, but he picked things up by the end of the quarter. His first pass was intended for Jabar Gaffney, who hadn't seen a target to that point in the night, but was late and off target high. His second pass was batted down by Akiem Hicks. He hit his third pass to Donte' Stallworth for one yard.

Mallett's arm got hit twice as he threw passes on the Patriots' next drive. One fell to the turf, the other floated in the air long enough for Marquis Johnson to pick it off. Like we said, tough start. After the pick, he was 3-8 for 30 yards and an interception. In Mallett's defense, Dan Connolly got dominated at the line by Hicks, who got to Mallett to upset the throw.

Chung made an interception off Sean Canfield, but he didn't have to do much for it. With Devin McCourty playing underneath Roby, Chung sat back and waited for Canfield to throw it between the "2" and the "5" on his jersey.

Mallett looked his best in the Patriots hurry-up offense. With 45 seconds he drove the Patriots from their 11 yard line and put them in position to kick a 53-yard field goal (which Stephen Gostkowski missed wide left). Mallett completed passes to Woodhead (3 yards), Gaffney (9 yards), Edelman (23 yards) and Woodhead again (20 yards). Seemed like for Mallett, the more he was allowed to react and play fast, the better off he was.

Clowney fined for hit on Brady; Rowe fined for unsportsmanlike penalty

Clowney fined for hit on Brady; Rowe fined for unsportsmanlike penalty

When Tom Brady complained to officials during the third quarter of last week's Divisional Round game against the Texans, he was wondering why Jadeveon Clowney wasn't penalized for a late hit. 

Not only did Brady get the call a little later in the game when Clowney hit him again in the fourth, but Clowney has now been fined for that hit. Per Pro Football Talk, Clowney was docked $18,231 for roughing the passer. 

Brady defended his on-the-field tantrum in the third quarter after Clowney's hit, insisting it may have helped lead to the Patriots being given extra yardage in the fourth. 

"Yeah, I would love to try to make sure the officials are paying close attention," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan show. "If we can get one of those 15-yard penalties, those are important."

Patriots corner Eric Rowe was also fined for his actions during the Divisional Round. He was hit with a $12,154 penalty after picking up an unsportsmanlike penalty for pulling a Texans player off of a scrum in the first quarter