Quick Hitters: Patriots/Eagles First-Half Observations
The New England Patriots, who chose to rest many starters including Tom Brady, took the field tonight outmatched on paper vs. the starters of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The game did not unfold from the start like most would have thought as the game is tied at 14, but here are some other quick thoughts on the action we just saw in the first-half:
- Ryan Mallett has looked better. He was lucky to have an interception by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie called back thanks to a roughing-the-passer call on defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Outside of that play, he has done well despite some free rushers being allowed by the makeshift offensive line in front of him. He capped the Patriots lone touchdown drive of the first half with a dime delivered on an out to converted-defensive lineman, now-tight end, Alex Silvestro.
- Though he did not lead the team to any touchdowns, Hoyer played well too at times, including key completions to Donte’ Stallworth and Deion Branch.
- The offensive line of Nate Solder, Donald Thomas, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, and Marcus Cannon struggled early on. Solder in particular has looked bad on a number of pass plays. The run blocking has been hit or miss as well, Shane Vereen has done decently despite being met in the backfield on more than one carry.
- The Patriots defensive line controlled the game initially. Kyle Love, Ron Brace, and Jermaine Cunningham all showed up early. On one key play, Love forced Michael Vick outside of the pocket where he was met with a vicious hit from Cunningham. The blow from Cunningham also managed to knock Vick out of the game with what seemed to be a rib injury.
- The more glaring errors for the Patriots came late in the half. The first came when undrafted running back Brandon Bolden muffed a punt in the second-quarter, leading to the Eagles first scoring drive. On the Patriots first play of the next drive, Brian Hoyer was stripped on his first down all night thanks to Solder/Cannon busting protections, leading to another quick strike for the Eagles, as rookie Nick Foles hit tight end Clay Harbor for a score.
- A key play at the end of the half came when linebacker Bobby Carpenter blasted the ball out from Brent Celek. The ball was scooped and scored by defensive end Trevor Scott, but upon further review the play was reversed as Celek did not have possession and the pass was ruled incomplete. Carpenter still made solid contact to prevent the completion which should still be noted.
- The lone turnover forced by the Patriots came in the final seconds. Rookie safety Nate Ebner picked off a deep ball from Foles and returned it 34 yards to the New England 37-yard-line.