|Halftime analysis from Patriots-Rams||08.26.10 at 9:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s halftime here at Gillette Stadium, and the Rams lead the Patriots 20-14 after two quarters of play. Here are a few quick notes:
•As good as the New England offense looked through the first two preseason games, it struggled for most of the first half of this evening’s game against the Rams. The Patriots were unable to get anything going on the offensive end, and had just one first down after the first quarter-plus of action.
•New England got its offense on track with their final possession of the first half when a Tom Brady-to-Wes Welker connection with 3:26 left in the second quarter went for 39 yards and just the second first down of the evening for the Patriots. That was followed by a memorable play where Brady tripped and fell, but managed to get back up and find tight end Alge Crumpler, who caught the ball and he was falling down. It was initially ruled that Crumpler was out of bounds, but the Patriots challenged and the ruling was overturned, eventually going for 24 yards and another first down. The series ended a few plays later when Rob Gronkowski made a nice catch at the Rams’ seven, and proceeded to drag St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis the final five yards into the end zone to finish off the 14-yard touchdown pass and give New England it’s first offensive touchdown of the night with 1:55 remaining in the second quarter to make it 17-14.
•In all, Brady finished the first half 8-for-10 for 103 yards and a touchdown. Running back Sammy Morris had five rushes for 12 yards to lead the ground game. Meanwhile, Welker built on last week’s preseason debut (six snaps, two catches) with a solid first half. By our count, he was out there for 15 snaps and had two catches for 41 yards on 15 total snaps. Missing was Laurence Maroney, who did not play a single snap in the first half.
•The Patriots also had defensive issues throughout the first two quarters, as the Rams went on a 17-0 run midway through the half thanks in large part to the exceptional calm displayed by rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and first-year tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. Bradford went 15-for-21 for 189 yards and two touchdown passes in his first half in his first preseason start, while Hoomanawanui had four catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Ron Brace had a sack for New England, but it was a mostly forgettable first half for the Patriots’ defense.
•The best moment for the Patriots’ came on the opening kickoff when Brandon Tate took a 97-yarder all the way back for a touchdown an impressive play that was blocked almost flawlessly by the New England return unit. Tate was able to follow that up with a 43-yarder on the next return.
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