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Halftime analysis: Patriots 10, Chiefs 3

11.21.11 at 10:07 pm ET

FOXBORO — Two quarters are in the books here at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots hold a 7-3 lead on the Chiefs. Here are a couple of quick notes on the first half:

‘€¢Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finished the first half 8-for-16 for 133 and one touchdown, while Rob Gronkowski had three catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Kansas City’s Tyler Palko was 10-for-14 for 111 yards and one pick, while Thomas Jones had seven carries for47 yards.

‘€¢The Patriots opened with some interesting wrinkles on defense, including the presence of wide receiver Julian Edelman as a defensive back on several snaps in the first half. (Edelman played four snaps at the position a week ago in the win over the Jets.) The Patriots also utilized Jermaine Cunningham as more of an outside linebacker (he had spent more time at defensive end) throughout portions of the first half, a surprise for someone who had been buried on the depth chart as of late. Edelman was a bit of a mixed bag, making a couple of nice tackles but getting steamrolled on a couple of other plays. (He did a nice job drawing a hold on a running play, getting Kansas City tight end Leonard Pope flagged, which negated a big run for the Chiefs.)

‘€¢The defensive highlight of the first half came with just over two minutes left in the second quarter and Kansas City driving. New England cornerback Kyle Arrington stepped into front of a Palko pass for Steve Breaston and returned the ball to the New England 46-yard line. It was Arrington’s sixth pick of the season, which leads the league. (On the play, Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich flattened Palko, which may have affected the throw.) That set the stage for New England’s last drive of the half, an eight-play, 51-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard field goal from Gostkowski to make it 10-3 at halftime.

‘€¢Overall, the Patriots were able to hold the Chiefs to just three first-half points, yielding a 26-yard field goal with 1:30 left in the first to make it 3-0. Tyler Palko and the rest of the Kansas City offense wasn’t afraid to take some shots, going downfield on occasion, and even shaking things up with a modified Wildcat on one play. That daring extended to special teams, where the Chiefs tried a surprise onside kick after taking a 3-0 lead. (Of course, that sense of daring was certainly debatable, as Kansas City coach Todd Haley decided not to go for in on fourth and one in New England territory earlier in the half.)

‘€¢Meanwhile, the New England offense was sluggish early, as the Patriots first two series ended with punts and the third was halted when Brady was sacked and fumbled the football, giving the Chiefs the ball at their own 27-yard line. The Patriots finally got on the board with 4:18 left in the first half on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski where Gronkowski was able to beat linebacker Derrick Johnson and stay inbounds down the Kansas City sideline for the score. (It was the longest touchdown catch of Gronkowski’s career.)



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