Patriots at Steelers - Second Quarter Observations

Ian Logue
October 30, 2011 at 05:50pm ET

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Some observations from the second quarter:

Mankins has shown plenty of intensity, but he's also been called for two false starts so far. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

- The intensity picked up in the second quarter, with the Patriots offense coming alive on their second possession.  There were also some heated exchanges between the two teams, with Logan Mankins getting into it with members of the Steelers defense.  Unfortunately the drive stalled and ended with a huge third down sack by Pittsburgh.  That killed the drive and forced a punt.

- One play that caught some attention was an attempted screen by Pittsburgh that Vince Wilfork sniffed out, with the veteran defensive lineman showing some serious quick feet to shift over and make a great tackle.

- Andre Carter made a sack one play later to force a 3rd and 17, which was picked off on the next play by Gary Guyton to give the Patriots the ball at around the Steelers 8-yard line.

- Kevin Faulk picked up six yards on the first play, and then picked up a blitz so that Tom Brady could connect with Deion Branch for the touchdown to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 10-7.

- Unfortunately Pittsburgh once again put together another time consuming drive, putting together a 10 play, 76 yard drive that ended in a touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, which gave the Steelers a 17-7 lead with 2:41 left to go in the first half.  That drive also put Pittsburgh over the 20-minute mark in time of possession, giving the Steelers a 20:44 - 6:35 edge along with a 10-point lead.

- Logan Mankins was quite fired up to start the game, but had two false starts in the opening half.  Obviously fans love his intensity, but hopefully he settles down in the second half.

- The Patriots did manage to put together a 10 play,  52 yard drive that lasted 2:12, and allowed New England to pull back within 7-points after Stephen Gostkowski hit a 46 yard field goal with just under 30-seconds left in the half.

- An interesting note posted on Twitter from ESPN Stats & Info: Ben Roethlisberger's 32 attempts are his most ever in the first half.  Not great news for a Patriots defense that allowed 231 gross passing yards in the first half.  Probably not the ideal way for them to climb out of the 32nd ranked designation they currently hold.

Some numbers to point out:

- Time of possession is firmly on the side of the Steelers, who had the ball for 21:13 while the patriots had it for just 8:47 in the first half.  All things considered it's a miracle that they're only down seven points, as the defense is probably pretty tired and still has two more quarters to play.

- The Steelers racked up 216 yards through the air compared to just 55 (NET yards) for the Patriots, with Tom Brady finishing the first half 8-of-13 for 76 yards and a touchdown (103.4 QB Rating), while Roethlisberger was 23-of-32 for 231 yards, 2 TD's and an interception (99.9 QB Rating). Brady's been sacked twice, losing 21 yards.

- Kevin Faulk had a strong return in his first game back since last season, rushing 5 times for 24 yards along with his crucial block that allowed Brady to complete his TD pass to Deion Branch.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 3 carries for 4 yards.

- So far Brady has spent the majority of the game in the shotgun, having been back on 17 of 23 offensive plays, and in the "no huddle" on just three plays - not including penalties.

The second half is about to begin, and we'll have updates in a bit.