Some highlights from the second quarter:


Branch helped get New England started to begin the second quarter. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Deion Branch opened the second quarter with a 45-yard reception catching a quick out route and then taking it up into Dallas territory.

РBrady found Branch again on the next play on a no-huddle pass for 12 more, with New England going into high gear for seven straight no huddle plays.  They drove down to the Dallas 7 after BenJarvus Green-Ellis picked up 11 on a 3rd and 18, but they were eventually forced to kick a 26-yard field goal, giving them a 6-3 lead with 12:10 to go in the half.  The reason for the third and long was a holding penalty on rookie Nate Solder, which unfortunately put them in that situation.

РFollowing that drive Brady was spotted on the sideline with an ice wrap on his right elbow/wrist.  He would return on the next series after the defense held Dallas.  Brady would hit Rob Gronkowski on a tight end screen on the first play of that series.

Danny Woodhead had his first carry since being injured and spending last week inactive.  He gained one yard on the play.

РBig play later in that drive, with Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker catching a pass inside the Cowboys 5 yard line, and taking the ball in for a touchdown after getting down near the goal line and then reaching the ball across the line.  Welker got knocked out of bounds, but the replay clearly showed he reached across and the call was over turned, giving the Patriots a 13-3 edge with 8-minutes to go.  The play came after 6 straight no-huddle plays, as New England once again turned it up tempo and prevented the Cowboys from adjusting.

Chad¬†Ochocinco’s presence was scarce once again on Sunday, with the receiver seeing just four first half plays. ¬†Probably not the game he was hoping for going into the Bye week, and worse – it makes you wonder if Bill Belichick wasn’t impressed by the fact he was promoting the fact he’s been a non factor on Twitter yesterday by offering up T-shirts that said as much. ¬†His involvement in the second half should be something to watch.

- Dez Bryant made a good play against Patrick Chung, faking Chung out and picking up 33 yards on the play.  On the play Bryant had to pull his pants up on the tackle, marking the second straight week fans have had to turn their heads thanks to a players butt being exposed.  Last week was Green-Ellis getting that honor, and it was captured by several photo agencies.

- Kyle Arrington took a tough shot off of Tashard Choice after the runningback slammed into him and the two bashed helmets on the play.¬† Arrington recently suffered a concussion early in the season, so hopefully he doesn’t suffer any setbacks thanks to that play. ¬†He was spotted on the field after the play and didn’t appear to miss any time.

РDallas closed out the half on a high note, with the Cowboys scoring on a touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten, his first reception of the afternoon.  On the drive Dallas had the ball for 11 plays and 93 yards, holding the ball for 7:01.  That closed the gap to 13-10 with the Patriots taking a 3-point lead into the locker room at the half.

РSome first half numbers:  The two quarterbacks are nearly dead even thus far, with Tony Romo finishing 13-of-19 for 138 yards along with one touchdown, and an interception for a QB rating of 85.0.  Tom Brady meanwhile is 10-of-14 for 138, 1 touchdown, and also has an interception, which came as the result of a tipped pass back in the first quarter on an attempt to Branch.  His QB rating is 96.7.

Your leading receivers through two quarters of play are tight end Aaron Hernandez, who has 3 catches for 31 yards, followed by Deion Branch (2 catches for 57 yards), Rob Gronkowski (2 receptions for 21 yards), and Wes Welker (2 catches for 18 yards and a touchdown). Green-Ellis also had one catch for 11-yards.

РThe Patriots were in the shotgun on 14 first half plays, and were in the no-huddle on 13.  Those numbers exclude penalties.

Patriots & Cowboys – First Quarter Hightlights