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First quarter: Patriots 10, Saints 0

08.12.10 at 8:13 pm ET
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Solid all-around opening quarter for the Patriots, totaling 96 yards to just 42 for the Saints to help open a 10-0 lead.

Some highlights:

– Great first series for the Pats defense. Opening in a 3-4 set, they forced a three-and-out, with Marques Murrell picking up a sack on Drew Brees on third down.

Julian Edelman nearly broke the ensuing punt for a score, returning the kick 40 yards to the Saints’ 19-yard line. They were unable to take advantage of prime field position, however, managing just a three-yard rush from BenJarvus Green Ellis and two Tom Brady incomplete passes. Stephen Gostkowski was able to convert on a 35-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead. Not the kind of start fans were hoping for after the red-zone struggles of 2009 (ranked 13th).

– After another three-and-out from the Saints (highlighted by a nice open field tackle by Patrick Chung on Lance Moore on third-and-short), the Patriots took over at the NO seven-yard line. Fourteen plays and 93 yards later Ellis found the end zone on a six-yard rush to give the Patriots a 10-0 lead. Brady was five-of-six for 67 yards on the drive, including a 23-yard pass to Randy Moss, a 20-yard pass to Brandon Tate (on 3rd-and-14) and a 21-yard toss to Edelman. That pass to Edelman took the Patriots to the NO 16-ayrd line, and it was five rushes (zero throws) from there, with Dan Connolly throwing a terrific block on Green’s six-yard score. The Patriots had three tight ends (Aaron Hernandez, Alge Crumpler and Rob Gronkowski) in on the TD play.

– 17 snaps for Brady in the quarter.

– No Laurence Maroney on the field in the first quarter. Eight carries for Ellis (24 yards, a TD) and one rush for Kevin Faulk.

Aaron Hernandez lined up at fullback on third down in the first series.

– No problems for Zoltan Mesko holding for Gostkowski on the field goal or extra point.

– Connolly had a so-so first quarter (was beat twice on the opening drive) but he made the play of the quarter with the block on Jonathan Vilma to set up the Ellis TD rush. He was in for all 17 snaps at left guard.

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