Patriots’ offense surges in second half
It takes the New England Patriots a while to get their offense
Then the second half starts and Tom Brady’s attack is very tough
The Patriots (9-3) have outscored their last two opponents 61-21
after intermission despite trailing by double digits at halftime.
In both games, they scored on each of their first five possessions
of the second half. The final scores were identical: 34-31 over the
Denver Broncos, one of the NFL’s best teams, and the Houston
Texans, right now the worst.
”As the game went on, we were able to see how Houston was going
to match up to our different personnel groups,” New England coach
Bill Belichick said Monday. ”Let’s say, defensively, when you’re
facing a team that uses a lot of personnel groups, it’s hard to
have a lot of things ready for a lot of different groups.”
The Texans (2-10) hadn’t seen many two-back alignments in
watching video of Patriots games. So they might not have prepared
for seldom-used James Develin, who powered his way to a 1-yard
touchdown on the first series of the second half as offensive
coordinator Josh McDaniels used a fullback more often Sunday.
”Josh did a good job of mixing the groups,” Belichick said.
”It’s just hard (for a defense) to have a game plan where you have
eight or nine different calls against seven, eight groups. You just
run out of time to practice it and time to work on it.”
The Patriots trailed 17-7, the fourth time in their past five
games they were behind at halftime. But seven minutes into the
third quarter they led 21-17.
”Coach will come in at halftime and say `OK, these are the
things we’re going to have to do well to move the ball,”’ Brady
said. ”We started with a great drive there at the start of the
third quarter, then scored again, then scored again and scored
again. It was really a great way for us to play offense.”
The Patriots didn’t play that way in the first seven games when
they scored just 54 points after halftime.
But in the last five, they have 133 points after intermission,
including three in overtime. They’ve scored on 23 of their 36
possessions (64 percent) with 16 touchdowns and seven field
The post-halftime percentage is even better in the past three
games, when the Patriots have scored on 14 of 20 possessions (70
percent) with nine touchdowns and five field goals. Brady has
completed 73 percent of his passes for an average of 233 yards.
”You give up a touchdown drive and then you go over there and
you come right back out on a three-and-out or turnover or something
like that and you don’t get everything fixed,” Belichick said of
opposing defenses. ”Sometimes those plays reappear in the next
drive and hurt you again.”
Now, if only the Patriots could improve in the first half.
Four games have been decided by a touchdown or field goal in the
final 5 seconds. They split two that were won on overtime field
goals and won two by scoring with 5 seconds left. And the winning
margin in nine of the Patriots’ 12 games was seven points or less.
They won six of them.
”When it does come down to those types of games, we feel
comfortable,” running back Shane Vereen said. ”It’s something
that we’ve done so many times.”
On Sunday, the Patriots snapped a three-game road losing
”Every team has talent so it’s tough to win on the road,
especially when you get behind 17-7,” Brady said. ”You pump a lot
of life in to them there. It ended up being a dogfight for us, but
we found a way to pull it out.”
They did it without Stevan Ridley, their leading rusher, who was
inactive after losing fumbles in the previous three games.
”There’s no sending a message. You sit down and talk to
somebody man to man and talk about the situation,” Belichick said.
”This isn’t cryptic. We’re just trying to win a football
Texans defensive end Antonio Smith wondered how the Patriots
excelled against a defense that had some new wrinkles for the
It was ”miraculous” how they changed their offense to key on
the defense, Smith said. ”Either teams are spying on us or
Belichick said he was aware of Smith’s remarks, but ”I don’t
have any comment on them. I think that’s a league matter.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org