Sunday, December 13, 2009

Halftime report: Panthers 7, Patriots 7

A handful of observations from a lackluster first half:

* Boos rain down. It's hard to believe this is virtually the same offense that broke record after record just two seasons ago. Tom Brady and his cohorts were booed after a third-and-12 pass went for just two yards, and they were booed even louder when a third-and-4 pass behind Sammy Morris slightly was dropped.

A couple of ticky-tack penalty calls saved the Patriots from more boos on their next drive. Ben Watson drew a questionable pass-interference call down the right sideline, and third wide receiver Isaiah Stanback drew a defensive holding call in the end zone after Brady had missed on a pass toward Randy Moss. Kevin Faulk ran through a big hole in the middle of the line for a touchdown -- the Patriots' first in almost four full quarters of action.

* Ugly day for Moss. A summary of the first half for the Patriots' big-play wide receiver:
-- Lets a pass slip through his hands deep over the middle;
-- Sees Chris Gamble intercept a pass -- albeit an off-target pass -- thrown in his direction;
-- Catches a pass down the middle of the field only to allow linebacker Dan Connor to punch it free.

First-half numbers: One catch for 16 yards and a fumble.

The ineffectiveness of Brady -- 8-for-15 for 59 yards and an interception -- isn't helping. Moss had no shot at the pass that Brady air-mailed through the back of the end zone.

But the Patriots' most dangerous weapon, once again, hasn't been all that dangerous.

* Rotation at offensive line. With Sebastian Vollmer returning to action, the Patriots have gone with a straight rotation at offensive tackle. Nick Kaczur and Matt Light started the game, but Vollmer substituted first for Light and second for Kaczur, moving from left to right tackle and back again. Kaczur has had all kinds of trouble with Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers, and it'll be interesting to see if the Patriots stick with the rotation or go exclusively with Light at left tackle and Vollmer at right tackle.

* Tight end blocking. Tight end Chris Baker has only had one pass thrown in his direction, and it bounced off his helmet. But catching passes isn't all Baker does. The tight end was the lead blocker on a pair of 17-yard runs in the first quarter, escorting Laurence Maroney around the left side and then pulling through the middle of the line in front of Sammy Morris.

Patriots running backs have 86 rushing yards on 16 carries thus far, an average of 5.4 yards per carry.

No comments: