First-half thoughts: Tough start for Patriots

First-half thoughts: Tough start for Patriots
January 19, 2014, 4:45 pm
Share This Post

DENVER -- The Patriots are adrift at halftime and it’s going to take at least a minor Broncos implosion in the second half in order for them to dig out.

First half observations observed. 

It was going to be tough enough to cover the Broncos’ fleet of receivers with a full complement of DBs. Then Alfonzo Dennard jacked his shoulder on Denver’s first series, followed by the possible knockout of Aqib Talib on a pick by Wes Welker. Talib didn’t come back. Dennard, even when healthy a mismatch on Demaryius Thomas, got chewed up.

Tom Brady has so far missed Matt Slater on a deep throw on a third-and-3, missed Julian Edelman long on a beautiful play-action, missed Austin Collie just before halftime, and again missed Edelman on a throwback type of play. The size of the targets allows little room for error on the throws. The throws are awry even for bigger ones. Brady had a D start.

The Patriots expected Denver to be loaded up against the run and reacted accordingly, trying to go play-action. But when they did run, they got barely anything. Eight carries for 16 yards so far. LeGarrette Blount has five carries for 6 yards. 

The only defender you can point to as having a good first half was linebacker Dont'a Hightower. He’s been outstanding in coverage underneath, in pursuit and in simple run-stopping. Chandler Jones deserves credit for one play. He tugged Manning’s jersey on a third-down play in the red zone causing Manning to miss Eric Decker in the end zone and forcing a field goal. 

ALSO: Denver is 5-for-8 on third down, with the most damaging one being a third-and-10 audible by Manning to a handoff for Knowshon Moreno that gained 28 . . . Danny Amendola hasn’t seen a pass thrown his way.