Pats Vs. Jags First Half Thoughts
As the New England Patriots head to halftime of their AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, trailing 14-10, here are some first half thoughts:
Gronk's Health- The top concern for New England, right now, has to be the health of All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, who took a serious shot to the head by safety Barry Church late in the second quarter. Gronkowski appeared to be a bit banged up, as he slowly got back on his feet, and went straight into the locker room. If he is ruled out with a concussion for the second half, the Patriots will have their backs even further up the wall, already trailing by four points.
Losing In Time Of Possession- The biggest difference in the game so far has been the time possession battle. The Jaguar offense was on the field almost a full seven minutes more than the Patriot offense in the first two quarters. Being able to end two of their four drives in the end zone, while taking their time going down the field, really aided Jacksonville in the first half.
Back-To-Back Scores- The Jags put together back-to-back scoring drives on their second and third drives of the game. After traveling just 23 yards down the field on their first opportunity, Jacksonville's offense bullied it's way down the field 76 and 77 yards respectively. The success on both drives was started with short play action passes to back up running back Corey Grant. The diminutive special teamer created a tough match up for the Patriot defense, catching three balls that weren't thrown more than a combined 10 yards down the field and turning them into 59 yards of passing offense. Combined with the powerful running of lead back Leonard Fournette and smart decision making by quarterback Blake Bortles, the Jags were able to look like a top-notch offense and throw 14 points on the board.
A Big Final Drive- Though they struggled through much of the first half, the Patriot offense put together a big final drive of the half, to cut their deficit from 11 to four. Aided by some poor execution and decision making by Jacksonville, on their final drive of the half, the Pats got the ball back at their own 15-yard line with 2:02 remaining and one timeout. Tom Brady then utilized a pair of costly defensive penalties and some strong throws to get the Pats 85 yards down the field and into the end zone for the first time on the day.
Gotta Get In The End Zone- The difference so far in the game is that the Jaguars finished two red zone drives in the end zone, while the Pats only got one touch down in two trips inside the 20. The Pats, who were stifled on their opening drive, after getting the ball inside the 10-yard line, and forced to settle for a field goal, need to get themselves back into the end zone more regularly in the second half.
Brady 6-6 for 57 yards on opening drive.