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

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

The Patriots’ defensive starters were Vince Wilfork, covera Kyle Love, covera Chandler Jones, covera Rob Ninkovich, covera Jerod Mayo, covera 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. Covera Poor technique on Wilson’s part to surrender the deep ball so easiy. Covera It looked like trouble when Givens was still 10 yards in front of him.

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

The Patriots’ starting offensive line, covera from left to right, covera was Nate Solder, covera Donald Thomas, covera Ryan Wendell, covera 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, covera including a penalty. Covera But Lloyd was asked this week if the Pats could use the Rams’ defensive aggressiveness against them, covera and he simply smiled and nodded. Covera He knew.

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

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

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

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

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

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