Pats Vs. Chargers First Half Thoughts
As the New England Patriots enter halftime of their Week 8 home game against the LA Chargers with a 15-7 lead, here are some first half thoughts:
In Total Control- Though they enter the half up just eight points, the Patriots are in total control of this game. Over the first two quarters, the Pats ran 40 offensive plays to LA's 19 and had their offense on the field for almost seven full minutes longer. They have also tallied 15 first downs to LA's five. With the exception of one single defensive breakdown, in which the Chargers got a franchise-best 87-yard rush score from Melvin Gordon, LA has done little to nothing against the new look Patriot defense. As they get the ball to start the second half, look for the Pats to step on the gas and continue to separate themselves from the Chargers.
Brady's Carving 'Em Up- It seems nobody told Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that the Chargers have one of the better pass defenses in the league, as the 40-year-old carved them up in the first half. Brady completed 19 of the 26 balls he threw, through the first two quarters, for 191 yards and a score.
Coming Out Of The Backfield- Brady connected with eight different receivers, over the first two quarters of play, but targeted his backs most often. Of the 19 completions he had, Brady linked up with the guys coming out of the backfield nine times for 120 yards. James White leads everyone with 62 receiving yards on three catches, including a 27-yard reception with a nifty move to shake a tackler on 3rd & 11 on New England's first scoring drive of the day. Rex Burkhead, who didn't see the field until the team's third drive of the game, added another four catches for 48 yards.
Special Teams Stars- The Patriots thrived on special teams, over the first half. New England continually left the Chargers with poor starting field position, thanks to strong kick coverage and nice close outs by guys like Matthew Slater, Brandon Bolden, Jonathan Jones and Brandon King. Both Jones and King also connected for a safety, late in the second quarter, which was aided by a terrible decision and route by LA punt returner Travis Benjamin. While Benjamin made a boneheaded play, King and Jones closed so quickly and gave him absolutely zero room for error. The Pats also got a nice push on LA's first field goal attempt of the game, as Lawrence Guy, among others, powered through the middle of the line and got some pressure in the face of kicker Nick Novak. The 51-yard boot ended up going wide of the right upright. On the flip side, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is a perfect 2-2 on field goal attempts so far.
Roberts is Rolling- Linebacker Elandon Roberts has seen an increase in reps this week, following the loss of Dont'a Hightower, and the young player has been making the most of his opportunity thus far. Roberts had two big tackles in the first half to help kill a couple of LA drives and has shot the gaps nicely a handful of times so far.