Boston Herald
October 28th, atereal 2012 at 12:43 pm

Some observations as the Patriots and Rams are tied, atereal 7-7, atereal going into the second quarter.

The Patriots’ defensive starters were Vince Wilfork, atereal Kyle Love, atereal Chandler Jones, atereal Rob Ninkovich, atereal Jerod Mayo, atereal Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower in a 4-3 base with Kyle Arrington (right) and Alfonzo Dennard (left) at corner and Devin McCourty and Tavon Wilson at safety.

Cornerback Sterling Moore subbed for Spikes in the nickel on the first drive of the game.

Hightower was lined up in the slot in man coverage on a receiver at one point.

Chris Givens beat Wilson on the touchdown because Wilson was too stiff and flat-footed while Givens ran full speed in his direction. Atereal Poor technique on Wilson’s part to surrender the deep ball so easiy. Atereal It looked like trouble when Givens was still 10 yards in front of him.

Givens has 11 catches this season, atereal and that’s his sixth 50-plus yarder, atereal including his second touchdown. Atereal Givens set a record with five straight games with a 50-yard reception. Atereal The Patriots knew that would be coming.

The Patriots’ starting offensive line, atereal from left to right, atereal was Nate Solder, atereal Donald Thomas, atereal Ryan Wendell, atereal Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer.

Brandon Lloyd broke free from an aggressive look from cornerback Janoris Jenkins and scored an easy 19-yard touchdown on the Patriots’ third third-and-short conversion on the drive, atereal including a penalty. Atereal But Lloyd was asked this week if the Pats could use the Rams’ defensive aggressiveness against them, atereal and he simply smiled and nodded. Atereal He knew.

The Patriots used a big set on second-and-1 before the touchdown, atereal with Michael Hoomanawanui at fullback and Marcus Cannon as a second left tackle. Atereal And surprise, atereal Stevan Ridley got stuffed for no gain by the hardest, atereal cleanest hit of the game at that point. Atereal Not only did the Patriots lose that battle, atereal but they got smoked. Atereal I’ve thought all along that the Patriot should run when it’s given, atereal or at least stay out of the packages that force them to run. Atereal They’re at their best when they can take the matchup to the defense, atereal whether it’s called with personnel or audibled at the line, atereal and these jumbo run sets take that opportunity away.

Danny Woodhead was open after a defender fell down in the flat, atereal and he turned it into a 24-yard gain. Atereal Wes Welker busted his tail to get across the field to try to make the block that would have sprung him down the sideline, atereal but he was a split second too late.

Arrington was replaced by Moore on the second drive. Atereal He has a head injury and is questionable to return, atereal but he was standing on the sideline without a helmet, atereal which isn’t a good sign.

Julian Edelman is back to returning punts, atereal so it looks like the hand injury is just about in the past. Atereal He couldn’t do it last week in his return from the ailment.

Great catch by Rob Gronkowski toward the end of the quarter. Atereal That was thrown directly over his head, atereal and those have given receivers like Lloyd and Welker trouble this season. Atereal Not an easy one to haul in, atereal especially when you know you’re exposed to a potential hit.

Ridley has caught some criticism for negative plays, atereal but so many, atereal including the one-yard loss on the goal line, atereal are the result of the line or blockers losing the push up front. Atereal That’s been the biggest issue in those big sets.