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Breaking down the first half

Posted by Albert Breer  August 12, 2010 09:03 PM

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Well, not a bad debut for the Patriots. Let's get you five quick ones to tide you over ...

1) The Patriots offense most certainly had a different look in Tom Brady's 17 snaps. New England was in the shotgun for just three snaps in that time, and just two snaps on the 14-play, 93-yard touchdown drive to end the starting quarterback's night. So that's different. As is ...

2) The way New England spread the ball around in the first half. No two ways around it: This offense was overly reliant on Wes Welker and Randy Moss last year (particularly with the failed signing of Joey Galloway). There's at least an effort now to change that. Brady threw to five different receivers on his eight throws, and the Patriots ran the ball more than they threw it while he was in there.

3) Give a hat tip to Dan Connolly, pulling to trap Jonathan Vilma and provide the key block on BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 6-yard touchdown run. The Patriots seemed to emphasize, too, running to the right, behind Sebastian Vollmer (they did on that TD), which makes a whole lot of sense. Getting a red-zone touchdown has to be a plus too.

4) The pass rush showed promise early, and flashes later. Give Marques Murrell credit for beating Saints right tackle Jon Stinchcomb for the sack on Drew Brees on New Orleans' first third down.

5) On the flip side, tough first half for Darius Butler. He took an illegal contact penalty on fourth-and-6, to extend New Orleans' touchdown drive, then got beat to the pylon by Reggie Bush for the score.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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