As the New England Patriots enter the half of their Week 7, Super Bowl LI rematch with the Atlanta Falcons with a 17-0 lead, here are some first half thoughts:

A Sloppy Start- The game started in sloppy fashion for both teams, as each squad was called for multiple penalties on the opening drives and just looked uncomfortable on the field. The refs also weren't helping things by seeming very flag-happy through the first two quarters. Through the first half of play there have been 11 penalties called for 85 total yards with New England leading the way with six for 50.

Burkhead's Back- Patriots running back Rex Burkhead was removed from the injury report late this week, after missing four games with a rib injury, and found his way back into the offensive rotation in the first half. Burkhead looked healthy and as talented as he did in the first two weeks of the season, rushing the ball six times for 31 yards, including three 9-yard runs.

Dion Keeps It Going- Coming off of his best week of the season, Patriots running back Dion Lewis got the starting nod for the team Sunday night. The shifty, explosive back picked up right where he left off last week, carrying the ball five times for 34 yards, including a 25-yard run up the gut.

The Story of The Night- The story of the night so far has to be the dominant play of the New England defense, which to this point in the season, had been pretty atrocious. Coming in, the Pats had been plain bad this year on defense, but tonight they have been nothing short of impressive. Taking on a struggling and somewhat-lost Falcons offense, the Pats have held Atlanta to a measly 130 first half yards and seven first downs on 26 plays. New England has squashed the powerful rush attack of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman, who have rushed for just 21 yards. They also limited Matt Ryan and the pass attack to just 100 yards, with a good chuck of them coming on Atlanta's final drive of the half with the Pats playing against the big play. Most importantly, the Falcons were 0-5 on third down in the first half. This could be the turning point for the New England defense.

Brady Looking Good- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looked good through the first half, completing 13 of 18 passes to six different receivers for 135 yards. He also has two touchdown passes on the night.


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