New England Patriots Team Notes

<b>Brady bounces back</b><br> Tom Brady overcame a miserable first half to lead one big touchdown drive with his arm Sunday. He completed just 1-of-10 first-half passes for seven yards, although four of those passes were dropped by his receivers. He rebounded in the second half to complete 7-of-11 for 105 yards, including six of his first seven to open the third quarter on drives that led to 10 of the Patriots' 17 points.

He was sacked twice, but avoided any critical mistakes in a game in which just one could have been the difference between winning and losing. He did not throw a touchdown pass and his 8-for-21 outing overall held his passer rating to a sub-par 56.1. He also had a 35-yard pass nullified by an illegal hands to the face penalty against Matt Light.

Two of his best plays may have come on balls he didn't even throw. In the third quarter, Brady dropped back trying to set up a screen as Strahan came charging toward him. Brady went to toss the ball over the rusher, but saw a Giants linebacker sneak inside the screen and alertly ate the ball for a 10-yard sack. It turned out to be a critical decision as he converted the ensuing third-and-16 with a 21-yard pass to David Givens. Later on that same drive, after completing a 39-yard pass down the sideline to David Patten, Brady rushed to the line of scrimmage to snap the ball before New York could challenge the play. The Giants tried to challenge, but did so too late. They would have lost the challenge anyway.

Faulk fires up rush
New England ran just 11 times for 22 yards in the first half with Mike Cloud carrying seven of those for 19 yards. Kevin Faulk took over the running chores in the second half and carried 14 times for a career-high 87 yards with a long of 23 yards. In addition to that 23-yarder, he added runs of 18 yards and 10 yards. Faulk averaged 6.2 yards per carry for the game. He was instrumental on the Patriots' first scoring drive of the third quarter, when he gained 40 of the 63 yards to set up a field goal.

The offensive line was hardly dominant up front, but it held its own against a solid, well-rested defense that only played 54 snaps in the game thanks to New England's 24:47 time of possession. The Patriots also scored at the goal line with Cloud following Dan Klecko in from one yard out. Klecko even carried once for five yards to give teams something else to see on film.

A real gem
With the exception of the decision to use a trick play on fourth-and-one from their own 34 that would have failed were it not for a false start nullifying the play, the Patriots' coaching staff as a whole called a gem. The defensive staff deserves a ton of credit for the way it defended the Giants' weapon-filled offense and limited it to just six points. New England returned to a 3-4 front and rushed only three players for most of the first half while playing Cover-2 behind the rush. It still got decent push up the middle while it took away any of Kerry Collins' downfield reads. Then in the second half, the Patriots played more man coverage and went after Collins more often, sacking him twice and forcing some errant throws. This undermanned team continues to show up ready to play and despite missing half a dozen starters as well as three other major contributors, it again played well enough to win against a tough opponent.

Offensively, Charlie Weis simplified some things at the half and his unit's execution improved dramatically. The Patriots showed they were prepared for the game's minor details when, after completing a 39-yard pass along the sideline, Weis quickly radioed a signal to quarterback Tom Brady to go no huddle, snap the ball and run a sneak before the Giants had a chance to see the replay and challenge the call, which they tried unsuccessfully to do.

Lucky penalty
Adam Vinatieri missed his fourth field goal of the season before converting on a 28-yarder. The Patriots averaged just 18.3 yards on three kickoff returns and punter Ken Walter was average, netting 35.4 yards on eight punts with one downed inside the 20 and no touchbacks. Three of the Patriots' 10 penalties came in the kicking game and one worked in the Patriots' favor. On fourth-and-one from the Patriots' 34, New England lined up to punt, but Antwan Harris jumped under center and took the snap. He was stopped short of the first down, but long snapper Lonie Paxton was called for a false start on the play and New England kicked it away, avoiding the turnover on its own side of the field. The coverage teams were excellent, holding the explosive Brian Mitchell to a 4.7-yard average on six punt returns and a 19.5-yard average on four kickoff returns. Richard Seymour partially blocked a 49-yard field goal try.

Expecting more
DL Richard Seymour, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, is becoming a near dominant player. His stat line was nothing out of the ordinary after Sunday's win over the Giants with two tackles: one sack for minus-5 yards and two pass deflections. But both of those deflections resulted in Patriots interceptions. He also partially blocked Brett Conway's 49-yard field goal try. His sack came on a second-and-three play from the Patriots' 11-yard line that derailed a possible touchdown drive and ultimately forced the Giants to settle for a field goal.

"Seymour is a dominant performer and we expect that from him every week," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said.

Seymour and the rest of the New England's front, Ty Warren, Dan Klecko, Bobby Hamilton and Jarvis Green, along with linebackers Tedy Bruschi, Roman Phifer, Willie McGinest and Matt Chatham did a solid job preventing any consistent ground attack. Tiki Barber found some room on the edges at times but finished with 22 carries for 71 yards with a long run of 16 yards. He was held to one yard or less on seven of his 22 runs and his first quarter fumble forced by Tyrone Poole was returned 38 yards for a touchdown by Chatham. New York trailed just 7-3 at the half, but Barber ran only four times for 10 yards in the second half.

Two-deep produces
Kerry Collins had to throw it 59 times to reach 314 yards on 35 completions. The Patriots played a ton of two-deep coverage and forced Collins to check down all day to running back Tiki Barber and tight end Jeremy Shockey, who combined to catch 16 passes for only 128 yards. Wideout Amani Toomer was held to just four receptions for 40 yards and Ike Hilliard to five grabs for 58 yards. Most important, the Patriots intercepted Collins four times and harassed him throughout. Antwan Harris had an interception sail through his hands, but rookie Eugene Wilson corralled it for his second pick of the season. Rodney Harrison nabbed two interceptions and Tyrone Poole had one. Collins was sacked just twice, but the Patriots defense generated strong push up the middle and disrupted the timing of the Giants' passing attack.


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