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First-quarter notes: Patriots 0, Jets 0

11.22.12 at 9:03 pm ET
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EAST RUTHERFORD — The first quarter is in the books here at MetLife Stadium and there’s no score. Here are a few quick notes:

•The Jets won the toss and deferred. The Patriots got off to a slow start when Tom Brady was swarmed by a New York rush, tried to dump the ball off and was called for intentional grounding. (His second flag for intentional grounding this season.) In the end, New England went three-and-out (despite the fact that the Patriots got Aaron Hernandez back on the field for the first time in a month), and were forced to punt the ball away.

•Offensively, the Patriots put together their most impressive drive of the game to this point at the end of the first quarter, as the session ended, New England was on the Jets’ three after starting a drive at its own 16 following an interception by Steve Gregory.

•The Jets fared no better early on — Mark Sanchez was sacked on the first play of the game on what appeared to be a blitz from rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower. That put them in a hole they couldn’t get out of, and eventually had to punt the ball away. The Patriots responded by driving into Jets’ territory on a drive that included a 28-yard pickup from Brady to Aaron Hernandez — his first catch since he returned from his injury, but Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal attempt.

•Defensively, the Patriots opened with Devin McCourty and Gregory at safety and Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard at corner. One other wrinkle — they had Rob Ninkovich playing his end-of-the-line spot on the right side, the same spot he was last week after Chandler Jones went down with his ankle injury. Jermaine Cunningham was on the opposite side. The defensive highlight of the quarter for the Patriots came after the Gostkowski miss — a pick from Gregory on Sanchez, just as the Jets were driving in New England territory. Gregory did a nice job reading the pattern coming across the middle — he juggled the ball but secured it quickly to come away with his second interception of the season and the fifth pick for the Patriots in the last three weeks.

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